Boston College softball waited 34 games and 60 days to suit up for its home opener. Finally playing in Brighton, the Eagles—winners of 10 straight—were eager to baptize their new field on Tuesday afternoon, and it showed. BC tacked on a trio of runs in the opening three frames, providing Allyson Frei more than enough insurance the rest of the way.
The redshirt junior picked up right where she left off over the weekend, shutting down a Massachusetts lineup that had produced 8.8 runs per game during its own 10-game win streak. Frei, who entered the day with a 1.87 ERA—0.87 points lower than her previous career mark—turned in a three-hit shutout, guiding BC to a 3-0 win, its program-record-setting 11th victory in a row.
For a second it appeared as if the Minutewomen (20-11, 9-0 Atlantic 10) were primed for another high-scoring affair. Three pitches in, Jena Cozza booked a trip to first base with a single through the left side. That’s as far she’d get, though. Frei quickly settled into a groove, retiring the next three batters.
The Eagles (20-15, 8-3 Atlantic Coast), on the other hand, had no trouble plating a run in the bottom half of the first. To get things going, Chloe Sharabba worked UMass’s Kiara Oliver into a 3-1 count before drawing a leadoff walk. Annie Murphy hit the next pitch to Minutewomen second basemen Amy Smith, but the freshman committed an error, allowing both Sharabba and Murphy to reach base safely. Soon after, Sharabba was tagged out, attempting to swipe third, but the play wasn’t a lost cause—Murphy moved into scoring position on the double steal.
Perhaps trying to pitch around C.C. Cook, who entered the contest batting .389 in her past five games, Oliver issued another walk. One passed ball, and Murphy and Cook found themselves in premier scoring position. The UMass ace nearly walked Emme Martinez, but the freshman four-hitter recorded a single instead, scoring Murphy. Two batters later, Lexi DiEmmanuele singled to left field, loading the bases. Yet it was only a matter of time before Oliver—a freshman who came into the game with an 11-2 record and 2.55 ERA—escaped the jam. Unfortunately for the Minutewomen, that one run ended up being fatal.
Frei was practically flawless the next two innings. The Branchville, N.J. native tossed a pair of no-hit frames, fanning four of the eight batters that she faced. Besides a walk here and there, the redshirt junior had complete control of the game. Without any kind of run support, her counterpart, Oliver, was left stranded in the circle.
In the back half of the third inning, Murphy logged her second single of the game. Thanks to a wild pitch, she received a free pass to second base. The ensuing batter, Cook, ripped a single of her own and, because of a Cozza error and throw to the plate—one that was short of a run-scoring Murphy—advanced all the way to third on the play. Once again in position to drive in a run, Martinez stepped up to bat and hit a ground ball to second, giving Cook enough time to speed home.
The 3-0 advantage wasn’t quite as substantial as the Eagles’ leads in game’s past, but compared to the offensive production that Frei worked with throughout the first half of the season, the multi-run cushion was a luxury. The redshirt junior went the distance, tossing her seventh complete game and third shutout of the season. UMass squandered a couple of opportunities, leaving four runners on base in the final three innings of play. But every time Frei got in somewhat of a jam, she immediately diffused the situation.
Although BC failed to notch a single extra-base hit all afternoon, it did what needed to do to get on the board against one of the Atlantic 10’s best pitchers. Winning every which way, head coach Ashley Obrest’s team is using small ball, base running, and shutdown pitching to its advantage—high scoring or not, the Eagles look virtually unstoppable right now.
Featured Image by Kaitlin Meeks / Heights Editor