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Softball sweeps UMBC to improve to 8-0 at home

Spring break was one big circle for the Binghamton University softball team.

Sasa Sucic/Staff Photographer Briana Andrews propelled Binghamton to victory over UMBC on Saturday, going 3-for-3 at the plate and recording three RBI.

In the week following its three-game sweep over America East rival University of Hartford — a performance that extended the team’s win streak to five games — BU stumbled against non-conference opponents. But to cap off break, Binghamton again swept an opponent in a three-game set, and a conference foe to boot.

In the busy stretch, the Bearcats (15-17, 6-3 AE) went 3-3 in their six games. BU dropped three straight — the team was swept in a doubleheader by defending Atlantic-10 champion Fordham University and then lost a game to Hofstra University a day later — but returned home in grand fashion to sweep America East foe University of Maryland, Baltimore County in a three-game series this weekend.

“Against Fordham and Hosftra, we were just a little bit off our game defensively and I thought we picked ourselves up as a team against UMBC,” said Binghamton head coach Michelle Burrell. “Our pitching stepped up and just every part of our game worked against UMBC.”

The Bearcats stumbled out of the gate last week and dropped both games of their doubleheader at Fordham, 8-3 and 7-3.

In each contest, the Bearcats committed late errors that enabled the Rams to secure the two victories. Six of Fordham’s combined 15 runs on the day were unearned.

A day later, Hofstra also proved to be too much for the Bearcats as the Pride took the five-inning game 9-1.

A trio of Hofstra players each drove in a pair of runs, including senior catcher Courtney Crews who finished 3-for-3 at the plate.

Although Binghamton was held to only four hits, freshman third baseman Linda Verduzco continued her hot streak as she homered for the third time in five games. Verduzco has driven in six runs in the span.

“I definitely thought we could have done a lot better,” Burrell said. “We were giving them too many extra opportunities. I thought we gave them a lot of runs that they didn’t earn. So I definitely thought that if we played well they were teams that we could beat. But both Fordham and Hofstra were good teams and they were good competition for us.”

BU returned home for the weekend and put the midweek disappointments well in the rear-view mirror with a three-game sweep over UMBC.

In the series’ first game, freshman infielder Caytlin Friis drilled a three-run home run to lead BU to a 5-1 win. The Bearcats then rode senior pitcher Kristen Emerling’s four-hit, one-run pitching performance to a 6-1 win in the second leg.

Binghamton completed its three-game sweep of UMBC on Saturday with an 8-2 win. Senior infielder Briana Andrews went 3-for-3 with three RBI to lead the Binghamton offense. The weekend sweep pushed BU’s home record to a perfect 8-0 this season.

Burrell praised her team, especially Andrews, Friis, and sophomore pitcher Demi Laney, for an excellent weekend’s display which kept the team in touch with the teams atop the conference standings.

“[Andrews] hit the ball really well [against UMBC],” Burrell said. “Caytlin Friis stepped up and got some punches for us, as did Bri. And then Demi [Laney] pitched a great first game. Overall all our pitchers did a very good job.”

With just about a month to go until the end of the regular season, Binghamton sits in fourth place in the conference standings and is on course to qualify for next month’s America East tournament for the second consecutive year.

But in the meantime, Burrell said she believes there is still room for improvement and wants her team to push even higher up the standings.

“Everything is still up in the air right now,” she said. “I don’t think there is anybody set on hosting [the conference tournament] or anything yet. It is still pretty early and we are still working to win every series from now on.”

On Thursday, the Bearcats are scheduled to head north to Syracuse University for a non-conference doubleheader against the Orange. Last season, Binghamton failed to score in 3-0 and 5-0 losses against SU in a doubleheader. Burrell said she is looking forward to the upcoming series as a chance for her team to improve.

“Syracuse is going to be a great midweek competition for us,” she said. “They have been in and out of top-25 … I think it is going to be good competition before we start conference [play again].”

Action is set to kick off at 3:30 p.m. on Thursday in Syracuse.