The Binghamton softball team traveled to Clearwater, Florida this past weekend to compete in the South Florida Invitational held at the University of South Florida. The Bearcats (4-5) continued their young season with four straight losses against Troy, Iowa, Bethune-Cookman and Western Michigan before shutting out the University of the Incarnate Word to win 1-0. Early invitationals such as the latter and the upcoming JMU Duke Invitational gave the team an opportunity to prepare for the conference season.
The team was competitive in five games over a three-day competition. In the first game versus Troy (16-6), the Bearcats faced a strong starting pitcher in freshman Leanna Johnson, whose victory added to her 9-1 record. Freshman pitcher Morgan Bienkowski was credited with the loss, dropping her record to 0-2 after surrendering six earned runs in 3.1 innings pitched. Facing 25 batters, Bienkowski struggled, walking seven batters to Johnson’s one. Sophomore Chelsea Howard was brought on for relief, holding the Trojans to zero runs over 3.2 innings. However, Howard’s impressive showing failed to earn the Bearcats a win, as Troy came out victorious 6-2.
Sophomore first baseman Alex Guay starred for the team, driving in RBIs in both the second and fourth innings. After a challenging second inning in which they gave up three runs, the Bearcats trimmed the lead to 3-2 in the third with a sacrifice fly by junior catcher Sara Herskowitz. However, the Trojans increased their lead to four with a two-RBI double with their senior catcher Kaylee Hussey in the top of the fourth.
The next game also proved tough for the Bearcats as they fell 6-5 to the Iowa Hawkeyes (11-8). Junior pitcher Rayn Gibson pitched six quality innings before Iowa rallied for five runs in the bottom of the seventh to steal the game. After going 3-0 down in the second inning, Binghamton plated four runs in the fifth, courtesy of hits by sophomore shortstop Makayla Alvarez and sophomore left fielder Hannah Lyons. Holding on to a one-run edge heading for a win, a clutch triple by Iowa freshman right fielder Sydney Owens brought home two for the 6-5 lead. The Bearcats failed to score in the bottom of the seventh.
On Saturday, the team sought to win against Bethune-Cookman University and Western Michigan but were unable, falling 2-1 and 8-5, respectively. Gibson again put forth a very strong showing against Bethune-Cookman (5-14), pitching a complete game with 12 strikeouts and only two earned runs, but was outdone by the Wildcats’ junior pitcher Destiny Enriquez, who only surrendered three hits and a run on her way to a win. Against Western Michigan (1-8), junior pitcher Rozlyn Price pitched six innings, giving up five runs, three of which were earned on her way to a credited loss. Freshman pitcher Sophia Pappas drove in two RBIs, but the Broncos recorded the victory on a game-sealing grand slam in the bottom of the sixth.
The Bearcats wrapped up their trip to the sunshine state with a win against the University of the Incarnate Word. Binghamton shut out the Cardinals (1-14), improving its record to 4-5.
As the team continues its nonconference slate, it will travel to James Madison University for the JMU Dukes Invitational on March 16-17. The team will take on James Madison, Rutgers, Saint Joseph’s and Morgan State.
First pitch in the opener against James Madison is set for 2 p.m. in Harrisonburg, Virginia.