Softball Goes Winless in its First ACC Series of the Season

In the sixth inning of Boston College softball’s weekend finale Sunday afternoon, the Eagles were on the cusp of their first conference victory of the season. After dropping the first two contests by a single run scored by Duke in the sixth inning or later, BC had been threatening all afternoon. Jessica Dreswick was tossing a shutout, but the Eagles had failed to record a run of their own, despite getting a runner on base in every inning but the first.

With two outs, BC was in its first big jam of the game, as Blue Devils were spotted on both first and third. Up to bat was Jill Ferraro, who nearly let Dreswick off the hook by hitting a weak ground ball to second base. Yet the first run of the game crossed the plate when Carly Severini momentarily took her eye off the ball while trying to field it and tag the base runner headed toward second in one motion.

The error was representative of the Eagles’ weekend in Durham—one that consisted of three heartbreaking one-run losses. In Sunday’s game, the first inning was flawless for both Dreswick and Blue Devils’ (16-10, 3-3 Atlantic Coast) starter Amelia Wiercioch. BC (9-15, 0-3) threatened to score in the second with hits by Severini and C.C. Cook, but both were stranded at second and third, when Allyson Moore grounded one back at Wiercioch.

BC got another runner into scoring position in the third when Chloe Sharabba stole second, but could not get the timely hit it needed, leaving another runner on the basepaths. Duke then threatened in the bottom half of the frame, as Dreswick walked Jazmine Moreno and hit Dominique Salinas. Still, the senior escaped danger by getting the Blue Devil’s three-hole hitter, Raine Wilson, to fly out.

Dreswick was dealing in the middle innings, retiring seven in a row through the third, fourth, and fifth. Yet, surprisingly, the Eagles’ ace logged just one strikeout in the game, pitching to contact effectively. Duke reliever Peyton St. George came in to start the fourth frame and picked up right where Wiercioch left off. The righty got the win by completing the 1-0 shutout after the fatal error brought home Jameson Kavel in the bottom of the sixth. It was the first of Dreswick’s eight losses this season in which she did not allow an earned run.

Saturday’s story consisted of better offensive showings from both teams. BC drew first blood in the top of the first. Lexi DiEmmanuele led off with a beautifully placed bunt single on the first pitch of the game. Sharabba followed with a single, and Severini brought home DiEmmanuele with an opposite field single to right.

The Eagles’ lead wouldn’t last long. In the bottom half of the frame, Kavel led off with a double, before coming around on a wild pitch from BC starter Allyson Frei. Wilson walked, and St. George, doing damage at the plate this time, singled her home when BC first-basemen Cami Sellers’ delivered an errant cut-off throw.

Frei and Duke starter Katherine Huey settled in, throwing scoreless second and third innings. BC’s offense broke out in the fourth, benefitting from small ball and Duke miscues. Singles by Sellers and Jordan Chimento, coupled with a Duke error, loaded the bases and set the stage for Moore.

The junior, batting eighth, squared around to bunt. Duke was anticipating the squeeze, and both the first and third basemen crashed hard toward the plate. She placed the bunt perfectly, putting enough on it so that it went right through the hole between the pitcher and first baseman, trickling all the way behind second base. Two runs came in, but the Eagles weren’t done yet. Chimento scored on a wild pitch, and Sharabba singled home Moore, giving BC a 5-2 advantage.

Once again, the Blue Devils responded right away. A pair of walks and a single loaded the bases for Duke in the bottom of the frame. An error by Sharabba at short brought in a run, and a clutch two-out single by Rachel Abboud brought home two more, chasing Frei from the game. Dreswick came on to record the final out to escape further danger, but Duke had already tied the game at five.

BC stranded runners at second and third in the top of the sixth, and in a tie game, the missed opportunities came back to haunt them. In the bottom of the inning, Wiercioch led off with a single, was bunted to second, and another timely two-out hit by Wilson would plate what turned out to be the deciding run. The Eagles threatened again in the top of the seventh, when they got runners to second and third with one out, but Cook ended up being thrown out at home on a fielder’s choice, and DiEmmanuele grounded back to the pitcher to end the game.

Friday’s opener was just as nail-biting. In her first ACC contest of the year, Dreswick struggled to settle in at the start. Kavel and Abboud scored in the first inning, thanks to RBIs from Ferraro and Brianna Butler and an Eagles error, staking Duke to the early advantage.

BC came back to plate one in the second when Cook ripped an RBI double, but Duke matched it in the bottom of the frame, extending its lead to 3-1 on a Wilson RBI single. It could have been much worse though, as the Blue Devils left the bases loaded to cap the inning.

The third and fourth went scoreless, as Wiercioch and Frei, who relieved Dreswick in the third,  found their footing. BC’s offense came through in the fifth, this time getting a clutch two-out hit of its own. Annie Murphy singled home two to tie the game at three.

Frei was on the mound for the bottom of the seventh, hoping to send the contest to extra innings. After a one-out walk and subsequent double, it was no longer looking good for BC, even after Frei fanned pinch-hitter Hannah Pridemore. Just as BC was thinking about getting out of the inning, disaster struck. Moore, BC’s catcher, let a low changeup slip by her glove. Moreno scrambled home, securing the victory on the oh-so-rare walk off passed ball.

It was a frustrating start to conference play for an Eagles team that arguably outplayed the Blue Devils in the series. BC lacked timely hitting and made costly defensive mistakes—the small things proved to be the difference in all three games. The Eagles will hope to tighten things up to turn around their fortunes as they enter the thick of the ACC slate.