The Binghamton softball team was living a California dream this weekend as it played four out of a scheduled five games in the CSU Northridge Early Bird Classic. The team saw a mix of seasoned pitchers and young hitters lead Binghamton to three victories this weekend.
Junior pitcher Rayn Gibson started the first game for the Bearcats (3-1) against Cal State Bakersfield on Friday, tossing 6.0 innings while allowing six hits, three earned runs and striking out four. Gibson’s outing and a career-high three RBIs from sophomore first baseman Alex Guay led Binghamton to a 9-3 victory.
Binghamton’s nine runs marks the team’s biggest offensive performance for its opening game of a season since its 1992 team crushed Oneonta 10-0. Sophomore outfielder Lauren Martinez’s two-run home run highlighted a three-run bottom of the third for BU. Junior catcher Sara Herskowitz capped the team’s scoring in the bottom of the sixth with a two-run double.
With the win, Gibson (1-0) now has 17 career victories and sole possession of 10th place all time in Binghamton’s Division I history. Gibson led the team in wins in her first two seasons as a Bearcat.
On Saturday, Binghamton’s offense maintained its momentum in the morning game, beating CSU Northridge 7-5. Herskowitz and sophomore shortstop Makayla Alvarez both homered in the game, and sophomore utility player Sarah Benn collected two RBIs with a single in the top of the second. Junior pitcher Rozlyn Price picked up the victory by giving up five earned runs in 4.1 innings of work while striking out a pair of Northridge Matadors. Gibson posted her first save of the season, throwing two scoreless innings and allowing only one hit. She finished the tournament 1-0 with one save and a 2.62 ERA in 10.2 total innings pitched.
However, Binghamton’s success came to a halt in Saturday’s second game, as the team was bested by Cal State Bakersfield, 8-4. The Bearcats started the game strongly with Herskowitz registering two RBIs and Alvarez providing an RBI single in the game’s first three innings. Alvarez’s strong day continued as she went 2-for-3 at the plate. The tide turned for BU in the top of the seventh inning. Nursing a 4-2 lead after six innings, Binghamton surrendered six unanswered runs on three hits. Freshman pitcher Morgan Bienkowski was attributed with the loss, tossing 4.0 innings of six-hit, three-run ball with two walks and three punch outs. Bakersfield sophomore pitcher Daryn Hitzel threw a six-hit complete game with four strikeouts and allowing four runs, two of which were earned.
Binghamton bounced back in Sunday’s finale, defeating Santa Clara 8-3. After falling behind early 1-0, Alvarez fueled BU’s advantage with a three-run bomb in the top of the second inning. Santa Clara later tied the game in the bottom of the third thanks to an RBI single from freshman right fielder Alexandria Hale and a fielding error by BU junior left fielder Amanda Ricci that allowed senior utility player Morgan Modesto to score. However, freshman second baseman Marissa Braito gave the Bearcats the lead for good in the top of the fourth with an RBI single that plated Alvarez. Sophomore infielder Hannah Lyons also turned in a notable performance, tallying two hits and two RBIs.
Alvarez now leads the team with a .455 batting average, two home runs and six RBIs. On the pitching side, Bienkowski got the start and pitched three innings, letting up three runs, one earned, on four hits and two walks. Sophomore pitcher Chelsea Howard notched her first victory of the season with four shutout innings in relief.
Before the season started, head coach Michelle Johnston spoke on media day about how this year’s lineup will feature more speed than in years past.
“We got freshmen who are gonna be making an impact right away, so it feels it is a different team than last year,” Johnston said. “We’ve added some really good speed to the lineup, so we’re excited.”
Binghamton stole five bases on seven attempts during this weekend, including two from Benn and one from Lyons.
The Bearcats will continue their season in the South Florida Tournament in Clearwater, Florida from March 1-3. Binghamton will open the tournament against Troy, with first pitch scheduled for 3 p.m.