The Boston College softball players arrived at Conaty Park on Thursday with the goal of rebounding and recovering from their losing streak. They had already familiarized themselves with the ballpark over the course of an exacting weekend series against No. 10 Florida State, during which temperatures-and BC’s batting average-plummeted. The Eagles had struggled through three consecutive losses, with 23 strikeouts and 12 hits in 66 at-bats. Furthermore, they had watched, through two frigid Smithfield, R.I. afternoons, as the mighty FSU generated 18 total runs against them. The pitfalls appeared to be far behind the players by midweek, however, after being addressed in their team meetings and practices. A certain confidence seemed to characterize the players’-or at least their coach’s-perspectives, as they prepared to play the Bryant University Bulldogs, the hometown team, in that very same Conaty Park.
“Coming off of a disappointing series against Florida State … we want to get out there and play some games,” said BC head coach Ashley Obrest prior to the contest. “We’re ready to go again.”
This confidence manifested itself in the final score of Thursday’s matchup, as the players defeated Bryant 6-3. It also showed in the way in which the team seized victory, through power hitting and power pitching-things that, for the BC ballplayers, were largely absent from their series against the Florida State Seminoles.
With the temperature hovering around 50 degrees by game time, an early and figurative thawing of the BC bats occurred. The Eagles scored their first runs in the second inning. After outfielder Tory Speer drew a walk, and after Taylor Coroneos reached on a single, freshman catcher Tatiana Cortez hit an arcing shot beyond the outfield fence, driving in three runs and giving BC a 3-0 lead.
The Bulldogs responded to Cortez’s three-run home run quickly. In the fourth inning, with two outs and with two Bryant runners-leftfielder Haley Haas and third baseman Emily Bouthillette-in scoring position, second baseman Liana Ogata struck a grounder beyond the reach of BC first baseman Jordan Weed. The hit, which was eventually stopped in right field, drove in two runs and abruptly closed the gap between the two teams, with Bryant behind by one.
Both the closeness of the game and the Bulldogs’ comeback rally were short-lived, though. In the fifth inning, Cortez would provide another clutch hit-the effective deathblow. Once again with two runners on base, Coroneos and second baseman Alana DiMaso, who both reached on fielders’ choices, the BC batter launched a home run, with an aggressive uppercut swing, into deep left. Cortez’s second three-run shot would give BC a 6-2 lead. Although Bryant scored another run in the sixth with a homerun hit by first baseman Elle Madsen, the hometown team could not match or overcome Cortez and BC’s offensive production and fell to the visiting Eagles.
While Cortez’s power hitting enabled BC to take the lead over Bryant, power pitching helped the Eagles hold it. Starting pitcher Nicole D’Argento surrendered three runs, but the right-handed hurler succeeded in getting key outs-outs that prevented the Bulldogs from mounting a concerted comeback rally. In the third inning, she stopped a jam-with the bases loaded and nimble Ogata on third-from becoming a Bryant scoring spree, securing two outs to end the inning. In the sixth, after Madsen launched her no-out homerun, she composed herself and retired the side without incident, striking out three batters. Over the course of her six innings on the mound, D’Argento struck out a total of eight Bryant ballplayers, stifling the opposing team’s offense.
By way of power hitting and power pitching-through the tremendous outings of Cortez and D’Argento-the BC softball team performed exceptionally well this past Thursday. Furthermore, in defeating its regional competitors in this midweek game and conquering Conaty Park, the BC players achieved an important goal: the snapping of a three-game skid and the reversal of a narrative created by the Seminoles.