As the Binghamton softball team’s first game against UMBC headed to extra innings, the teams were locked in a pitcher’s duel. The score was deadlocked at one after strong performances by redshirt senior pitcher Rayn Gibson and the Retrievers’ junior pitcher Courtney Coppersmith, a former America East (AE) pitcher of the year and AE championship most outstanding player.
In the top of the eighth inning, the first batter Coppersmith faced was senior infielder Hannah Lyons. On the third pitch, Lyons launched a home run into left field, giving the Bearcats a 2-1 advantage.
“She got one of Coppersmith’s missed pitches and put a good swing on it,” said Binghamton assistant coach Jessica Bump. “We knew right off the bat that it was out.”
Gibson held on in the bottom of the eighth, and the Bearcats secured a win to open the series.
“[Gibson] was really focused,” Bump said. “She had her changeup which really helps her keep hitters off balance, and I think she wanted to go head-to-head to Coppersmith, and I think she had a good mentality going into the game. She had a really good outing, and we were proud of her.”
After taking game one against UMBC (13-7, 2-1 AE), the Bearcats (6-6, 2-6 AE) were shutout in the remaining two games that counted in the conference standings.
“We obviously had a lot of strikeouts against Coppersmith, but the results don’t show the work that we put in [on offense] throughout the weekend,” Bump said. “We told the girls to keep pushing, hopefully our consistency will come … I think we’re in a good position with how our pitching and defense are playing right now that we can pick up some games here in the last half of conference play.”
After Gibson set the tone in game one, strong defense was a theme for Binghamton during the weekend. However, the offense did not produce any runs during the second and third games. Binghamton lost the nightcap on Saturday 3-0.
“Our pitching and defense all weekend were phenomenal, we really can’t ask for anything more out of them,” Bump said. “It was definitely good game one to know that we can beat [Coppersmith] when we put some good at-bats together and play well on the other side.”
The rubber match on Sunday played out similarly to the opener. With freshman pitcher Hannah Mearns facing off against Coppersmith, the game went to extra innings with no score. Mearns pitched eight scoreless innings with six strikeouts and allowed just five hits.
“Even though [Mearns is] a freshman, she has the mentality [of having] experience and she doesn’t throw like she’s a freshman,” Bump said. “They really didn’t hit her hard or put any good swings on balls there until the ninth inning.”
In the bottom of the ninth, Mearns was pulled after back-to-back singles by UMBC. Gibson took over but surrendered the walk-off score and Binghamton lost 1-0.
“[Gibson] came into that game, she was throwing well, she was focused,” Bump said. “We gotta give credit to UMBC, they put a good swing on a good pitch that [Gibson] threw, and we just told her that games don’t come down to one pitch and our offense has to step up in those situations.”
Binghamton won the fourth meeting 4-2, but it was considered a nonconference game and did not count in the AE standings. With another conference series next weekend, the Bearcats will look to improve on offense as the season rolls on.
“Last week against Albany we saw our offense kind of come together, and looking back on the weekend, I do think our at-bats are getting better,” Bump said. “The girls just need to keep pushing.”
The Bearcats will return home this weekend to host Maine for a four-game series. First pitch is set for noon on Saturday at the Bearcats Sports Complex in Vestal, New York.