It may have been two dramatically different games, but the end result was the same in both. The Binghamton softball team earned two victories in its home-opening series, defeating Cornell in an 8-7 walkoff nail-biter and cruising to a 10-1 victory in the nightcap.
After RBI doubles from junior catcher Sara Herskowitz and freshman outfielder Chloe Morgan in the third inning, the Bearcats (10-12) jumped out to a 5-0 lead in the first game and appeared poised to obtain an easy victory in the game. After that inning ended, freshman pitcher Sophia Pappas was pulled from the game after making the start and surrendering no runs.
Junior pitcher Rozlyn Price entered the game, and the previously stout Bearcats defense struggled mightily in the top of the fourth, allowing five unanswered runs from the Big Red that tied the game.
The Bearcats entered the final inning of the game tied at five. With freshman pitcher Morgan Bienkowski, the inning got off to an extremely rough start with back-to-back solo home runs by Cornell, giving the Big Red a late-game advantage.
“I think they stayed composed,” said BU head coach Michelle Johnston. “I think in their minds they knew we were home, so I think they knew were going to have the last at-bats.”
The team came out firing in the last frame. Sophomore infielder Alex Guay led off the inning with a double, and she scored three at-bats later when Herskowitz hit an RBI single. Junior infielder Kassidy Seary logged an RBI single and Morgan recorded the walkoff in her first game at the Bearcats Sports Complex, giving BU a dramatic win.
“The mentality was just to get runners on and move them and get two runs and go into extra innings, but we got the last run,” Morgan said.
The second game began on a challenging note for Binghamton and junior starting pitcher Rayn Gibson, with Cornell hitting a homer on the first at-bat of the game. But for the Big Red, it was its only scoring play of the ballgame.
“We gave up the home run, and I just really liked how we responded and how Rayn responded,” Johnston said. “I just felt like she just kept getting stronger, and I really liked how they got momentum and ran with the momentum to score as much as we did.”
Gibson dominated for the rest of the game, striking out six and allowing no runs for the remainder of the game. With the softball mercy rule in place, the game ended as a 10-1 win for Binghamton in the fifth inning.
“I just tried my best to keep hitting corners and working my pitches and trusting that everyone’s going to work behind me, and everyone is making great plays,” Gibson said. “We really did a great job keeping the ball in front of us and not allowing extra bases.”
The Bearcats’ offense fired on all cylinders in both of its matches Wednesday. Of all BU players who participated in both matches, four attained a .500 batting average across both games.
After a successful outing in its home opener, the team will once again hit the road this weekend. BU is set to play its first America East matchups of the season in a road trip to face UMBC. Gibson, a Maryland native, believes the team has strong momentum heading into conference play.
“These two games were really good for us, and I think we have good momentum right now so going down to UMBC should be fun,” Gibson said.
First pitch in Saturday’s doubleheader is set for noon in Baltimore, Maryland from The Diamond at UMBC.