After being dominated by Syracuse on Tuesday afternoon, suffering a 14-0 defeat at home, the Binghamton softball team fell again on Wednesday against America East (AE) rival Albany. The Orange (20-25, 8-10 Atlantic Coast Conference) were able to capitalize on costly errors by the Bearcats (15-26, 4-11 AE) to establish an early lead, while the second-place Great Danes (22-11, 10-1 AE) rode a third-inning rally to power past the Bearcats.
“We just remind them when they’ve played well and the things that have happened when we’re able to play together,” said BU head coach Michelle Johnston. “It seems like in the games where we haven’t played well it’s one big inning. We always have that inning where it’s either a walk or a mistake. Early on this season, it really felt like they went out and were playing for each other and trusting each other. We gotta get back to that — this is the time they gotta find that and be able to work for each other and pick each other up after a mistake.”
Against the Orange, junior pitcher Rozlyn Price (3-7) pitched into the third frame, giving up two earned runs. Syracuse sophomore pitcher Miranda Hearn (2-6) threw a complete-game, five-inning shutout.
Syracuse began the first inning with a single by sophomore second baseman Gabby Teran, but a throwing error to second base allowed Teran to take three bases. The following hitter for Syracuse, senior utility player Alicia Hansen, lined a triple to center, which brought the Orange an early run. A sacrifice fly doubled the lead to 2-0 before the Bearcats got a chance to respond.
Errors continued to damage Binghamton, as a misplayed sacrifice bunt put runners on the corners at the top of the third. Senior pitcher Makenzie Goluba surrendered back-to-back home runs in relief. Syracuse sophomore infielder Neli Casares-Maher hit her first of two three-run home runs, plating three unearned runs. Another solo homer gave Syracuse a 7-0 advantage by the midpoint of the third inning, and an error in the fourth allowed Syracuse to put the game out of reach as the Orange drove home another five runs, including Casares-Maher’s second three-run home run. The game ended early because of the mercy rule, with Syracuse winning 14-0.
Binghamton’s next contest was against the Albany Great Danes on Wednesday. The Great Danes defeated the Bearcats, 5-2, led by senior pitcher Celeste Verdolivo. Verdolivo (15-3) tossed seven innings, surrendering two runs and bringing Albany within 1.5 games of conference leader UMass Lowell. Despite RBIs from junior catcher Sara Herskowitz and freshman infielder Marissa Braito, the Bearcats were unable to emerge victorious.
Although the team lost to Syracuse, nonconference games have no effect on the seeding for the AE Tournament in just a couple of weeks. After falling in a closer game to Albany, Johnston seems to think her team can return to form before the playoffs with only three games remaining.
“I think we’re just trying to get back to playing loose,” Johnston said. “I think, for whatever reason, they’ve been putting a lot of pressure on themselves both individually and as a team. They need to play loose and not put the extra pressure on themselves. We want to come together and play better offensively, defensively and on the mound. We gotta put it together and play our best game. I think we’ll be fine — we just gotta get back to playing the way we’re capable.”
The team finishes out the season with a three-game series against Maine over the weekend. The Black Bears (10-25, 2-9 AE) pose a threat to the Bearcats, as Maine is fighting for a playoff spot with six games to play — three more games than Binghamton. In the conference, the seventh seed does not make the postseason.
“It’s gonna come down to the series with Maine,” Johnston said. “Nothing will be locked in unless we win. We’re more than capable to compete with anyone in our conference. We gotta make sure we play our best.”
The Bearcats begin their pivotal final series of the season against Maine on Saturday, April 27. First pitch of game one is set for 1 p.m. from the Bearcats Sports Complex in Vestal, New York.