Softball: BU Goes 2-2 at the Garnet and Black Invitational

By William Hanley

BOSTON – The Boston University softball team encountered their toughest competition of the 2024 season so far, going 2-2 at last week’s Garnet and Black Invitational in Columbia, South Carolina. 

The No. 22/23 Terriers (20-3) entered the event red hot, having only dropped one game to No. 6/8 Duke (22-2). But the Garnet and Black Invitational offered an opportunity for BU to affirm its legitimacy against Power 5 talent from the SEC and Big 10. 

BU opened the event with a 3-0 heartbreak loss against the hosting No. 23/22 University of South Carolina Gamecocks (21-7).

The game was a defensive struggle, with neither team’s pitching staff yielding a run in seven innings. But a walk-off three-run homer struck off the bat of South Carolina graduate pitcher Alana Vawter secured the Gamecocks their first victory against a top-25 opponent this season and dealt BU their second loss of the year.

Rebounding from the loss to South Carolina, the Terriers outlasted the University of Minnesota Golden Gophers (14-13) to earn a narrow 5-4 win. 

Minnesota struck quickly, notching two runs on a Taylor Krapf sacrifice fly and a Sydney Strelow RBI single in the bottom of the first. BU responded swiftly, halving the Gophers’ lead in the second before exploding for four runs in the top of the sixth. The Gophers refused to go down easy, adding on two more runs in the bottom of the sixth, but graduate pitcher Allison Boaz, who went three for four at the plate in addition to her exploits in the circle, shined during her relief appearance and nabbed a hard grounder with two Gophers on base to save the game for BU.

BU faced another setback against the Northwestern Wildcats (11-7), who narrowly beat out the Terriers 2-0, handing them their third loss of the year.

Despite outhitting Northwestern five-to-three, the Terriers struggled to drive in runs against the arms of Riley Grudzielanek and Ashley Miller, stranding six runners on base. A commendable pitching effort from Boaz kept BU in contention late into the game, but a Grudzielanek RBI single in the fifth and a Kansas Robinson RBI triple put the game out of reach for the Terriers.

Though BU would continue to experience struggles at the plate during the event closer against the Michigan State Spartans (12-13), the Terriers avenged the walk-off loss that opened the Garnet and Black Invitational with a 3-2 walk-off victory.

The Spartans, eager to get a win back on the Terriers after suffering a 9-1 mercy rule defeat during last month’s Duke Invitational, scored two runs home in the top of the second to earn Michigan State the early lead. That lead would hold until the bottom of the seventh when a Boaz double and a Lauren Nett single tied the game to force extra innings. Boaz, who pitched eight shutout innings during her relief appearance, blanked the Spartans in the eighth and ninth, allowing a Lauren Keleher sacrifice fly to clinch the extra innings win and improve BU to 20-3 on the season.

The Terriers will return to Boston to host the Yale University Bulldogs (6-14) for the 2024 home opener on Tuesday, March 19th. First pitch is scheduled for 1:00 p.m., and WTBU radio coverage of the doubleheader can be heard on Mixlr.