With six remaining America East games, the Binghamton softball team has clinched a spot in the conference tournament after taking two of three games from Hartford this weekend. The Bearcats (21-13, 10-2 America East) won the series opener 3-0 before splitting Sunday’s doubleheader with a 5-3 loss and a 6-1 victory.
“One of our goals this season was to make sure that we won every series, and we wanted to, with the new facility, give ourselves a chance to host [the America East tournament],” Binghamton head coach Michelle Burrell said. “We still have a chance to do that.”
The Bearcats will need to finish atop the league standings for the conference playoffs to come to the Bearcats Sports Complex. And despite winning the weekend series, Binghamton fell a game behind first-place Albany, which swept UMBC.
The Great Danes (28-10, 11-1 AE), led by junior pitcher Brittany MacFawn, ride an eight-game winning streak into their Wednesday doubleheader against Boston University.
For Binghamton, junior pitcher Demi Laney had yet another dominant weekend performance. She led the Bearcats to both their wins, striking out 16 batters without allowing a run in 12 innings of work.
On a weekend when the usually potent Binghamton bats went relatively quiet, Laney’s dominance was all the more clutch. The Bearcats, who boast a league-leading .304 batting average, hit just .257 at Hartford (16-26, 5-7 AE).
“I thought Demi did a really good job all weekend,” Burrell said. “Both her and [freshman catcher] Taylor [Chaffee] worked really well together to shut down [Hartford’s] offense.”
But MacFawn, who leads the conference with 1.72 ERA, garnered AE Pitcher of the Week honors on Monday after accumulating six wins and 40 strikeouts last week.
With Laney tossing a gem in Saturday’s series opener, Hartford committed a costly error in the third inning. Junior third baseman Mikala King led off with a single and advanced to second on a passed ball with sophomore shortstop Caytlin Friis at bat. Friis then laid down a sacrifice bunt, but an error by Hartford’s second baseman allowed King to score.
Freshman designated hitter Tiffany McIntosh tacked on two insurance runs with a sixth-inning homer as the Bearcats rode Laney’s shutout to a 3-0 win.
In Sunday’s opener, junior second baseman Jessica Bump led off with a homer, and a single by freshman first baseman Lisa Cadogan gave the Bearcats a 2-0 lead in the third. But the Hawks scored three in the fourth and two in the fifth to take control en route to the 5-3 win.
Bump, who accounted for the final run with another solo shot, finished the game with two hits in three at-bats, and Cadogan went 3-for-3. The rest of the team, however, recorded just one hit.
With Laney on the hill for the finale, Cadogan drove in a first-inning run and Bump scored on a third-inning McIntosh single to put the Bearcats ahead 2-0 again. This time, though, Binghamton would not relinquish its lead.
A two-run Chaffee home run highlighted a three-run fifth inning, and the Bearcats took the series with a 6-1 run.
Bump finished the weekend with a .429 average, two home runs, three RBI and five runs scored, all team-highs. Including Wednesday’s doubleheader at St. Bonaventure, Bump posted a .467 average and three home runs to win America East Player of the Week honors.
“She’s carrying herself very well at the plate, and she’s just been very consistent for us,” Burrell said. “She especially had a good weekend.”
With Albany and third-place Stony Brook left on the conference slate for the Bearcats, Burrell said she expects the final six America East games to be more challenging than the first 12. But first, the Bearcats are set to play a doubleheader today at Colgate.
Burrell said she likes the late-season nonconference games to keep her team fresh.
“[We] play every game like a conference game, really work on a few things,” she said. “It’s good to face a lot of competition so we stay in game mode.”
First pitch of the opener is scheduled for 3:30 p.m. at Eaton Street Field.