With conference play looming, the Binghamton University softball team headed to the Radford Invitational this weekend hoping to build on its success at last weekend’s Adidas/Longwood Classic. But after topping Lehigh University in the tournament opener, the Bearcats suffered a tough loss to host Radford University and subsequent back-to-back shutouts against the two teams and returned home with a 1-3 tournament record.
Binghamton (7-11) opened the weekend on Saturday with the same pitching prowess that limited opponents to three runs in three Bearcat wins at the Adidas/Longwood Classic on March 10 and 11. Sophomore Demi Laney allowed one unearned run against Lehigh, and a combination of timely offense and the ability to capitalize on the mistakes of the Mountain Hawks (9-11) helped the Bearcats to a 5-1 lead entering the final frame.
But junior Kate Price, who just one week ago became Binghamton’s all-time saves leader, struggled in the seventh inning. With one out and two runners on base, Price surrendered a home run that trimmed the Bearcats’ lead to 5-4. The Mountain Hawks followed with a single, but Price was able to induce a game-ending double play.
But later that afternoon, it was the Bearcats who found themselves in need of a late rally. Trailing Radford (12-8) 6-2 with two outs in the top of the seventh, senior Meghan Tucker walked and scored on a double by junior Jessica Phillips. Sophomore Mikala King followed with a home run, pulling Binghamton within one run, but Laney struck out to end the game.
Tucker and Phillips each belted a solo shot earlier in the game.
Even though Binghamton won once on the first day, head coach Michelle Burrell said her team didn’t come out as strong as she had hoped.
“We were kind of looking to pick up where we left off at Longwood, and I don’t think we exactly did that,” she said. “I don’t think we came out ready to play, even in that first game.”
On Sunday morning, Lehigh exacted revenge on Binghamton. The Bearcats recorded their first and only hit of the game in the sixth inning, after the Mountain Hawks had built a 6-0 lead.
Binghamton fielding errors resulted in two three-run innings for Lehigh. Junior Rhoda Marsteller and senior Kristen Emerling surrendered six runs, but only one was earned.
Burrell said she shifted players around a bit defensively, and she attributed the fielding woes to minor mistakes.
“I think right now we’re not doing the little things,” she said. “If we’re able to figure that out and start playing together as a team, then I think we’ll be fine.”
With Binghamton unable to get anything going offensively, Lehigh took the rematch 6-0.
The Bearcats displayed a better defensive performance against Radford on Sunday afternoon, allowing just one run, but the hitting woes persisted. Junior Shannon Kane recorded the Bearcats’ sole hit in the second inning.
A strong outing by Laney kept the game scoreless through five innings, but Price allowed an unearned run in the bottom of the sixth inning and Binghamton went down in order to end the game.
Binghamton hitters went a combined 2-for-44 on the tournament’s second day. Burrell said her hitters weren’t as aggressive on Sunday and that they passed on too many good pitches early in the count.
“I think it’s just being ready early on in our at-bats because that’s probably when we’re going to see the best pitches,” she said.
Though the Bearcats still have several non-conference games scattered throughout the remainder of the season, America East play is set to begin this weekend. Binghamton is scheduled to visit Boston University for a three-game series that will be played on Saturday and Sunday.
Burrell said her team will rest until Wednesday because a few players suffered minor injuries over the weekend. Most notably, freshman shortstop Caitlyn Friis pulled a quadricep and missed both games on Sunday. She is expected to play against the Terriers.
When the Bearcats begin practicing on Wednesday, Burrell said they will work on fixing the minor mistakes that cost them games at the Radford Invitational. She also noted that her team will work on its hitting.
“We’ve really got the ability to do a lot more than what we’ve been showing the past couple of weeks, so hopefully we can get our hitting back this week,” Burrell said.
First pitch against the Terriers is set for 1 p.m. on Saturday at Boston University Softball Field.