Sloppiness on the field and three tight finishes characterized the Binghamton softball team’s season-opening weekend at Florida International’s Blue & Gold Felsberg Memorial Tournament. In one-run losses to UConn, Morehead State and host FIU, the Bearcats (0-3) committed eight errors, which resulted in five unearned runs.
The weekend marked the Bearcats’ first time playing on a field this season with their new stadium unplayable because of the weather, and head coach Michelle Burrell said that could have been a factor in the defensive woes.
“It was our first time on dirt, and the ball off the turf or the indoor gym is a little bit different than the dirt,” she said. “That’ll come, but we just need to be more aggressive.”
With rain forcing a suspension of play against the Huskies (1-2) on Friday, Binghamton’s first defeat came at the hands of Morehead State (1-3) on Saturday afternoon.
The Eagles struck first with a fourth-inning solo shot surrendered by junior Demi Laney, and tacked on another run in the fifth. Binghamton struggled offensively all game, but junior second baseman Jessica Bump delivered a clutch two-out, RBI double in the bottom of the seventh to make it 2-1. Freshman centerfielder Sydney Harbaugh, who had the Bearcats’ other two hits on the day, couldn’t drive in Bump, though, as she ended the game with a lineout to short.
In the evening, Binghamton committed five errors against FIU (6-5), losing in extra innings after squandering a 3-2 seventh-inning lead. The Bearcats rallied from a 2-0 deficit with an RBI double from freshman first baseman Tiffany McIntosh and bases loaded walks from Bump and Harbaugh to gain the lead.
But errors by Bump and McIntosh allowed the Panthers to tie the score and force extra innings.
Binghamton came up empty in the top of the eighth, and with one out and a runner on second in the bottom half, FIU senior centerfielder Amber Curry shot a single into the outfield. Bearcat junior centerfielder Colleen Dougherty mishandled the ball, allowing the Panthers to score the winning run.
On Sunday, Binghamton completed its tilt with UConn. The Bearcats, who had fallen behind 5-1 after three innings, used a McIntosh solo shot and a wild pitch to cut it to 5-3 after four.
The Huskies tacked on another run in the sixth, but Binghamton had a chance to force extra innings in the seventh. With one out and Harbaugh on first, back-to-back doubles by McIntosh and freshman designated hitter Lisa Cadogan pulled the Bearcats to within one.
But UConn brought in freshman pitcher Alyson Ambler, who induced groundouts off the bats of Bump and junior third baseman Mikala King, sending the Bearcats home without a win.
“We saw when we needed to score runs late in the games we did so,” Burrell said. “We just need to work on being more aggressive early on in the games and take advantages of our at-bats in the first, second and third innings.”
Harbaugh, who was named America East Rookie of the Week on Monday, led the team with four hits in nine at-bats this weekend while Bump and McIntosh each contributed three. McIntosh’s three RBI stand as a team-high, and she, along with Cadogan and senior left fielder Jessica Phillips, also had two doubles.
“[McIntosh] definitely had some big hits, and I think she’s going to get more consistent as we go,” Burrell said.
On the mound, Laney and seniors Kate Price and Rhoda Marsteller each registered one loss, though Price, who earned America East Pitcher of the Week honors, did not surrender an earned run in 6.1 innings of work.
Burrell said she doubts the weather will permit on-field practices in the weeks leading up to Binghamton’s participation in Arizona State’s Wilson/DeMarini Invitational, but the Bearcats should at least be able to take reps on the Bearcats Sports Complex artificial turf.
“It’s better than being indoors,” Burrell said. “So we should at least be able to get some live defense out there.”
The Bearcats are set to face East Carolina and Arizona State to kick off the invitational on March 1.