May 4, 2000
Chestnut Hill, Mass. -
Four years ago, in Jen Finley's first season as the Boston College softball coach, the Eagles hosted the BIG EAST Tournament.
The Eagles didn't qualify.
This weekend, Finley's club will be hosting the conference championships again - and the Eagles will be attempting to win their third BIG EAST title in four years.
The difference? Well, the best place to begin would be with the Class of 2000. This year's seniors were Finley's first Boston College recruits - and they have helped take the program to another level.
The Eagles won the BIG EAST Tournament in 1997 and 1998, and this year's seniors would love to put an exclamation point on their careers by winning a third league title. The fact that the tournament is being played in Chestnut Hill makes it that much sweeter.
"They've done the field up so nice, and everyone I've talked to is going to be coming," says tri-captain Lauren Fischetti. "Even being out there practicing this week, there's so much adrenaline."
"We've known since our freshman year that it was going to be here this year," says first baseman Chris Vicari, the BIG EAST Tournament's Most Outstanding Player in 1998. "It's the best way for me to go out."
Well, maybe not THE best way.
Boston College has moved through the BIG EAST and advanced to the NCAA Tournament twice since this year's seniors arrived - but the Eagles have yet to win a game in NCAA Tournament play. Advancing to softball's Big Dance and knocking a few teams off would be icing on the cake for this crew - but they're not looking that far ahead yet.
"I've always wanted to get as far as we can," says Fischetti, "but it's no easy task. I don't want to look past Friday yet. Notre Dame is a great team."
Still, the 19th-ranked Irish only came away from Shea Field with a split of their doubleheader on April 15 - and the underdog Eagles will have plenty of confidence coming in - especially Vicari, who has been on a tear during the month of April after a slow start.
"I always start off that way," says Vicari, who became the BIG EAST's career home run leader last weekend. "Once the BIG EAST season starts I always refocus. I use the beginning of the season to get ready for the BIG EAST."
"In the very beginning I didn't hit very well, either," adds Fischetti.
Part of their motivation came from the early-season success of this year's freshmen - particularly Cara Blumfield and Jennifer Asbury, who shouldered most of the offensive load in March. The upperclassmen felt the need to step it up - and they have responded.
"It was sort of a kick in the butt," says Fischetti. "I guess the older you get, the harder it is to motivate yourself."
"Everyone pushed everyone," Vicari says. "It doesn't feel like there are any freshmen on this team. All of us get along so well."
Still, this weekend will belong to the seniors, as they look to leave their mark on the program that they have helped bring closer to national prominence.
"I'm hoping people look at us and say that we were the freshman class that started the program," says Fischetti. "Not just on the field, but with our leadership and the little traditions we started."
"The BC way of playing," adds Vicari. "That's what I hope to pass on. (Coach) Finley has given us so much. We'd like to go out the same way we came in - winning the BIG EAST Tournament."