Previewing 2018 Softball: Aggie Classic

Boston College softball

Like every Northeast softball and baseball team, Boston College softball is opening its 2018 campaign in warm weather. The Eagles are making the trek to College Station, Texas to play in the Aggie Classic, hosted by Texas A&M. BC will play five games in a span of three days, taking on the Aggies, Texas Tech, and Houston.

Who is BC playing?

Texas Tech, Texas A&M, and Houston

When is BC playing?

Friday, Feb. 9, 10 a.m. and 5:15 p.m.
Saturday, Feb. 10, 10 a.m. and 12:15 p.m.
Sunday, Feb. 11, 9 a.m.

Where is BC playing?

Aggie Softball Complex, College Station, Texas

How to Watch:

Both games against Texas A&M (Friday at 5:15 p.m. and Saturday at 12:15 p.m.) will be broadcasted on SEC+ and available to stream on WatchESPN.

Team Capsules:

Boston College (last season: 31-20, 14-9 Atlantic Coast):

The Eagles enter 2018 with plenty of optimism, gearing up to make a run at the ACC championship as they’re a year removed from finishing third in the conference. BC has won 30-plus games three times in the last four years and has the pieces to have another successful campaign under seventh-year head coach Ashley Obrest. Pitcher Jessica Dreswick earned an All-ACC First Team nod a year ago, battling a foot injury, en route to an Eagles record 22 wins. She’ll be joined on the mound by Allyson Frei, who missed all of last year with an injury. Frei’s return, after holding opponents to a .216 batting average against as a sophomore, gives BC a potent one-two punch. Other players to watch are a returning first teamer in shortstop Chloe Sharabba, who hit .327 with eight home runs a season ago, as well as second team pick Annie Murphy, who hit .333. Additionally, center fielder Lexi DiEmmanuele returns as she attempts to best her impressive 30 stolen bases from last year, second in BC single-season history.

Texas A&M (last season: 47-13, 16-7 Southeastern):

Preseason expectations for Texas A&M are as high as they’ve ever been, ranking sixth in the USA Today/NFCA Preseason Coaches Poll and ninth in the ESPN.com/USA Softball Collegiate Top 25 poll. The Aggies return their entire starting nine, as well as a trio of talented pitchers. The duo of Tori Vidales and Riley Sartain combined for 30 home runs last season, while Kristen Cuyos was no slouch with 11 of her own. Vidales and teammate Ashley Walters both earned preseason All-SEC honors, with the latter starting all 60 games and slashing .315/.435/.934. Texas A&M has plenty of firepower on the offensive side and additionally has a stable of capable arms to work with. Seniors Trinity Harrington and Lexi Smith have left their mark on the Aggies, and look to wrap up their college career with a deep run. Harrington threw nine complete games and three shutouts last year, going 14-4 with a 2.13 ERA. Smith, meanwhile, overpowered batters to a tune of 118 strikeouts in 107 innings of work.

Texas Tech (last season: 19-36, 4-14 Big 12):

The Red Raiders are looking to return to the NCAA tournament for the first time since 2012, but just lost largest senior class in team history. Head coach Adrian Gregory, who enters his fourth season at the helm with with a .416 winning percentage, has a youthful team. Gregory welcomes in seven freshman, a few transfers, and multiple redshirts. Texas Tech does have some experience, though. It returns a pair of starters in Jessica Hartwell and Kiana Workman, as well as three pitchers in senior Cheyene Powell and sophomores Kassidy Scott and Hannah Broseman. Hartwell hit .305 last season to go along with 11 home runs and 11 steals, a rare mix of speed and power. Scott, meanwhile, started a team-high 31 games as a freshman, to mixed results. Opponents hit almost .300 off of her, and she averaged less than half a strikeout per inning.

Houston (last season: 30-25, 12-6 American):

Houston went on a run to the conference championship game a year ago, finishing second in both the regular season and the AAC tournament. Both runner-up nods were the highest for the program as a member of the league. Like the Eagles, there’s a lot of optimism surrounding the Cougars entering 2018. Tabbed to finish second in the AAC for a second-straight year, Houston returns 15 players from a talented team. Conference rookie of the year Arielle James looks to continue to impress, having slashed .354/.424/.444 as a freshman—including 12 extra base hits and as many walks as strikeouts. First Team All-Conference selections Maya Thomas and Savannah Heebner anchor the team, as Thomas hit an incredible .435 with 18 stolen bases, while Heebner started 27 games, on her way to a team-high 177 innings and an impressive 2.13 ERA. She’s joined in the rotation by All-Rookie selection Trystan Melancon, who added 22 starts and finished with a sub-3.00 ERA as well.

Last Meeting:

Houston: The Eagles played Houston twice last season, opening against the Cougars in the Houston Hilton Plaza Invitational. It was the first time they’d ever met. BC took the first game, 12-4, on the strength of now-departed Tatiana Cortez, going 3-for-3 with two home runs and four RBIs. The second game, a day later, went Houston’s way, 7-3. The Cougars got a two-run home run from Shelby Miller as they used a trio of multi-run innings to erase BC’s early 2-0 lead.

Texas A&M: The last time they met was all the way back in 2003, when the Aggies pushed their all-time record against the Eagles to 3-0 with an 8-4 win.

Texas Tech: BC has never played the Red Raiders.

Outlook:

This is a tough field for the Eagles, as the Aggies went to the College World Series a year ago and Houston is no slouch. Still, it’ll be a good barometer for a BC team that is looking to contend in the ACC—it was picked fifth in the conference preseason poll. With two games against top-10 Texas A&M, the Eagles could pick up impressive wins early. Even close losses would show that BC is a team to be reckoned with in the ACC. It has a travel-heavy, tough early schedule, so any early wins would be big down the road. Spending a weekend in Texas with some strong opposition will be a good test to start the season, as the Eagles are looking to return to the NCAA tournament for the first time since 2003.

Featured Image by Emily Fahey / Senior Heights Editor

Bradley Smart
About Bradley Smart 161 Articles
Bradley is the associate sports editor for The Heights. He believes that America does truly run on Dunkin, March is the best month, baseball teams should always wear stirrups, and being down 3-1, in anything, is never cause for concern. You can follow him on Twitter @bradleysmart15.