Boston, Mississippi State squads bring differing strengths into OSU regional

Associated Press Boston pitcher Ali DuBois comes into the Stillwater Regional with one of the best ERAs in Division I softball. She and the Terriers will open against Mississippi State, which was one of the top SEC teams in home runs this season, at 3:30 p.m. Friday.

Mississippi State pulls into the Stillwater Regional one of the best power-hitting softball teams in the SEC.

The Bulldogs (33-23), who will be the No. 2 seed in the regional, averaged just over one home run per game and have hit a combined 65 long balls in its 56 games this year.

Mississippi State – which went winless against Big 12 opponents this season with a loss each to Oklahoma (9-0 in 5 innings), Texas (8-7) and Baylor (10-6) – have three batters with double-digit home runs on the season.

Fa Leilua leads the team both in home runs (18) and batting average (.340), Mia Davidson has accounted for 16 home runs – and leads the team in runs scored (40) – and Carter Spexarth has 11 homers.

They will open against a Boston squad that is the complete opposite on offense.

The Terriers (36-2), who received five votes in Top 25 Coaches Poll, have just 15 home runs in the 38 games they were able to play on their way to the winning the Patriot League tournament with a 9-2 win over Lehigh – scoring nine runs without a single home run.

It’s been more about getting on base and working runners around the base path, with six Terriers batting over .300 – and a seventh right on the cusp of the mark. They also have three batters over .400, led by Jen Horita with a .443 average – followed by Caitlin Coker, who leads the team with 17 stolen bases, at .410 and Nicole Amodio at .400.

“They don’t know much about us, so we’re trying to use that as an advantage and make sure that no one underestimates BU,” Boston Coker said in story by the Boston Globe. “I wouldn’t necessarily say we’re an underdog, but I definitely think that people tend to overlook us.”

What Boston lacks in offensive firepower they have made up for in defensive firepower.

The No. 3 seed in the regional has a team ERA of 1.19, with its ace Ali DuBois registering a 0.89 earned run average – which ranks eighth in the country – in 21 starts (and 27 total appearances) on her way to a 25-0 record.

Opposing teams are batting just .171 against DuBois, who has 151 strikeouts in 149 innings of work.

Boston’s second pitcher, Emily Gant, also ranks in the top 20 in the country for ERA. Gant’s 1.18 average in 14 appearances (with 47 1/3 innings pitched) is sixth in the country. The Terriers have also utilized Allison Boaz, who has a 1.94 ERA in nearly 40 innings of work.

“They’ve got a really tough pitcher,” Mississippi State softball coach Samantha Ricketts said in a press conference Monday. “They have some really good hitting and speed, especially at the top of their lineup. … I know they are not a team we can take lightly and look ahead. That’s what we’re going to have to be prepared for first.”

Mississippi State has steadily worked in five pitchers, but have relied heavily on two pitchers, Annie Willis and Emily Williams, who have combined to make 37 starts and 58 appearances. Willis has a 2.59 ERA with a 16-9 record in 132 1/3 innings pitched, while Williams has a 3.59 earned run average with an 8-5 record in 101 1/3 innings of work.

Boston and the Bulldogs will play in Friday’s regional contest, scheduled for 3:30 p.m., following the Oklahoma State game versus Campbell.

The winners of the two contests will meet at 1 p.m. Saturday, while the losers of the first two games will play at 3:30 p.m. Saturday.

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