We all have things that we would like to put behind us. For some, it’s something as small as a badly timed joke or a wrong answer in class. For others, it’s larger, such as a phase in their life or an engrained habit. For the softball team, it’s last season.
“It was a tough situation for everybody. It sucks losing that many games, but I think that coming out of it, we just realized that we have all the pieces, we just have to put it together,” said senior captain Tory Speer.
Last spring, the Eagles finished in the bottom of the ACC after a season of 38 losses and just 14 wins, only two of them coming in conference play. With a clean slate and an entire season of games ahead of them, however, Boston College has already begun to build off of the issues that plagued it during the 2012-2013 season.
“I think we had a lot of big injuries last year, and we didn’t have the depth in order to get us through the year,” said head coach Ashley Obrest.
One of the biggest holes in the lineup was the one that senior captain Nicole D’Argento left for the entirety of last season as she was forced to redshirt because of injury. Watching from the sidelines as her team struggled, D’Argento became an asset on the sidelines, watching closely during every game and providing analysis and advice. That kind of support can only go so far, though.
While the Eagles’ hitting did not suffer as much as their defense did, the lack of depth in the pitching staff left the Eagles at a severe disadvantage, to the point that putting up five, six, even seven runs wasn’t enough.
“It was tough because you kind of really don’t have any control over what’s going on,” D’Argento said. “I think I made the best out of my situation and helped out when I could and tried to be another set of eyes for the coaches and for the team and tried to keep everybody together as much as I could, but like [Obrest] said, I think injuries did plague us.”
D’Argento watched as the pitching staff of Chelsea Dimon, Stephanie Lord, and Andrea Filler put up an earned run average of 6.82-three points higher than the Eagles’ opponents’ average of 3.81.
She watched as the Eagles suffered through 15 games that were cut short by the mercy rule, and as they were outscored by their opponents by a score of 371-221 on the season.
“I think our pitching wasn’t where we needed it to be, especially when you play top-25 teams,” Obrest said. “With that being said, our hitters did a really good job putting runs on the board, but sometimes seven runs wasn’t enough for us. Injuries really hurt us. That’s not an excuse. We should have done a better job, but that certainly played a big role in it.”
With the coming of spring, though, the Eagles have a chance to put all of that behind them, building off of the bright spots from last season and rebuilding their depth in what they hope will be a season with a vastly different tone from the last one.
Among those bright spots will be the leadership of a now fifth year grad student, D’Argento, who will be back on the mound for the Eagles. As a junior, D’Argento had an ERA of 3.77 in her 10 wins and 13 losses on the mound, leading the team in strikeouts with 114.
Joining D’Argento on the pitching staff is freshman Jordan Weed.
“We have three healthy pitchers right now, and I think with Nic and Jordan especially, they both have been throwing the ball really well … I don’t think we’re going to have to use Nic for 14 innings when we play a double header, but if she’s rolling we’re going to stick with her, but I think Jordan’s going to be able to throw if we need her to,” Obrest said.
Weed made two appearances in the Eagles’ first weekend of play, starting against Memphis only to be pulled after two thirds of an inning after giving up three hits and three runs, and the next day against the Tigers once again, only to give up seven runs and seven hits in one and two thirds innings. Obrest is still confident in Weed, though, as her performance in practice and scrimmages has shown her potential on the mound.
“I think that a lot of people probably looked at Jordan’s numbers from the opening weekend, but it was two games,” Obrest said. “We’re putting it in the books and moving forward, because she had been throwing the ball really well in scrimmages, so I think we’re going to have two aces.”
With another addition of freshman Taylor Coroneos, the Eagles are hoping that they will achieve the depth on the mound that was so sorely missing last season. Weed and Coroneos are two members of a large five-player freshman class.
“We’re all there for each other, and with the big freshman class, I think we’ve done a great job connecting the two age groups together, and it’s just nice to play with both friends and teammates at the same time,” said senior captain Alana DiMaso, who returns to the lineup as an offensive weapon after batting .307 last year with eight home runs.
With so many new players entering their college careers, and learning from last year’s lessons, the Eagles are placing a new, stronger emphasis on the community within their team.
“With last year, not winning a lot of games is going to create some sort of rift because people aren’t going to be happy. I feel like this year we made it a point to say that no matter what happens, we’re all going to be there for each other,” Speer said. “Whether you get a start or whether you get benched a game, we’re still going to have your back.”
Last year, Speer led the team in batting average (.331), home runs (15), and RBIs (38). With all three of the top offensive contributors-Speer, Dimaso, and sophomore Megan Cooley-returning, the Eagles have a chance to fall into a rhythm as the pitching and defense develops in support of their offensive output.
“I think it’s going to be pitching, and she’s sitting here right now,” Obrest said, referring to the return of D’Argento.
“I think everybody in the game of softball knows that. If you have a good one-two punch, or two good aces, you’re going to go far. The hitters find a way to get on base and put runs on the board.”
Even, with so much emphasis put on that side of the ball, D’Argento isn’t feeling the pressure as she relies on five years of experience on the BC team, where, she has seen its ups and downs to calm her.
“It’s kind of a blessing that [D’Argento] got hurt, because this year we’re coming back even stronger, and now we have our ace pitcher,” Speer said. “It’s just going to make for that much better of a season this year.”
With 10 games under their belts this season, the Eagles have already leapt out of their rut and won six of them. With a long season ahead of them, the Eagles already have a goal on their mind-to make the ACC tournament, which no longer invites all of the conference’s members.
“Making it to the ACC tournament is going to be big,” Obrest said. “Not everybody gets in this year, and if you look at our records, we always finish in the bottom spot.”
It’s a long road ahead-the building blocks of hitting in place will need to get stronger, and the freshman pitchers will need to come into form if the Eagles wish to meet their goal, but the first step-putting the past behind them-is already complete.