The Binghamton University softball team will be looking to get back on track this weekend when it heads to Virginia for the Adidas/Longwood Classic. After dropping seven of their last eight games, the Bearcats have a chance to bring their record back to .500 as they are set to play two games apiece against North Carolina Central University and host Longwood University.
This will be the Bearcats’ third involvement in a tournament this season, having already participated in the Florida Gulf Coast Tournament and the Jeannine McHaney Memorial Classic.
Head coach Michelle Burrell admits that the 3-7 team has been slow in getting off the blocks this season.
“I don’t think we started as well as we would have liked to, especially since we’ve kind of given away some runs in quite a few games,” Burrell said. “I think if we didn’t give those runs away, they would have been games that we probably could have won.”
But Burrell said she expects things to turn around quickly for the Bearcats.
“I think we are putting ourselves under too much pressure right now,” she said. “But I do think that we have enough experience, so we expect our form to change soon. “
Despite Binghamton’s slow start, junior outfielder Jessica Phillips’ start has been anything but. After finishing with two doubles and three home runs at the Jeannine McHaney Memorial Classic last weekend, Phillips was named America East Player of the Week on March 5.
Burrell is happy with the early season form of last year’s America East Co-Player of the Year.
“In the first tournament, [Phillips] had a lot of walks,” Burrell said. “But ever since she has been playing very aggressively, and she’s done a good job. She has stayed disciplined, and that is what we expect from her.”
Before the season began, three freshmen were added to Burrell’s squad: outfielder Jessie LoBianco and infielders Linda Verduzco and Caytlin Friis. The coach has praised the contributions of the newcomers and the way they are fitting into the rest of the team.
“I think they’ve been doing a really good job,” Burrell said. “They have been working hard. They have all fit in really well, and stepping in whenever and playing really composed.”
The Bearcats will be on the road again this weekend as they take a 460-mile trip down south to Farmville, Va. for the Adidas/Longwood Classic.
Last season, BU split a doubleheader against Longwood. The Lancers are in good form at the beginning of their 2012 season, having notched 12 wins in 19 games.
Burrell said she expects another tough test of her team’s resolve this weekend.
“We went down there last year to play in their tournament,” she said. “Longwood is a pretty good team athletically, pretty good hitting team. They seem like they’ll be good competition. I think NC Central is just growing right now, so I don’t think they will be as tough as Longwood will be.”
On Saturday, the Bearcats are scheduled to face UNC-Central at 1:15 p.m. before taking on Longwood at 3:30 p.m. Binghamton is set to go up against UNCC once more at 10 a.m. on Sunday before wrapping up the tournament with another match against the hosts at 12:15 p.m.