The Binghamton softball team took the field in Phoenix over the weekend in the Grand Canyon Tournament for its third tournament of the season. The Bearcats finished with a 1-4 record, beating Grand Canyon University 2-1 for their only win of the weekend.
BU (7-8) opened up its first game on Friday against San Jose State University (10-5) with graduate student pitcher Chelsea Howard taking the mound. Senior pitcher Sophia Pappas got the start as designated hitter for the Bearcats and belted an RBI double to right-center field in the first inning. After scoring the first run, Binghamton’s offense only drew up one more run against the Spartans thanks to a solo home run from freshman utility Sarah Rende in the bottom of the seventh.
“They were the furthest hit balls I’ve seen in a really long time,” said Binghamton head coach Jess Bump said. “[Rende] had a really good weekend, really good presence in the box.”
On the mound, Howard and Pappas let up a combined seven runs and 10 hits. After a Spartan hit a three-run shot in the fourth to take the lead, San Jose tacked on four more runs, resulting in a 7-2 loss for BU.
In their second game of the tournament, the Bearcats faced off against Grand Canyon University (13-3). Binghamton led off the first inning with a run thanks to two GCU errors. However, the Antelopes responded with a three-run home run later that inning. Sophomore pitcher Allison L’Amoreaux was on the mound, and GCU continued to attack her in the fifth, scoring three more runs off of three hits. Although the Bearcat gave up six earned runs, she still posted a solid line, only giving up six hits, walking two and striking out five.
“I don’t think [the loss] really reflected how we did,” Coach Bump said. “[L’Amoreaux] threw really well.”
Ultimately, the Bearcats fell again, losing 6-4 with senior utility Alli Richmond, L’Amoreaux and Rende, combining for the team’s four RBIs. L’Amoreaux and Howard both recorded losses as their records decreased to 4-2 and 2-3, respectively.
“We had 23 strikeouts [on Friday], which is a lot for us,” Bump said. “We kind of changed our focus for Saturday and Sunday just to make sure we were putting balls in play and putting pressure on their defense.”
L’Amoreaux struggled again Saturday in a rematch against San Jose. The Bearcat allowed San Jose to score four of its five runs off of homers. Pappas tied the game in the top of the fifth with a solo shot to center. However, the home run ball killed the Bearcats again in the bottom of the inning as the Spartans took L’Amoreaux deep to put San Jose up by two, resulting in a 5-3 loss.
Binghamton bounced back later that day against Grand Canyon. Howard got the start and only gave up one run on three hits without walking a batter. It was the third time this season she let up one run or less, bringing her ERA down to 3.31. Offensively, Rende hit her second home run of the tournament, coupled with freshman outfielder Alayna Harbaugh’s RBI to put the Bearcats ahead 2-1. BU held on in the bottom of the seventh to get its first win of the tournament.
“[Howard] kept their bats at bay for a full seven innings,” Bump said. “She got in a really good rhythm — she was hitting her spots … Her composure and consistency during the game kind of gave our defense confidence to make big plays behind her.”
BU gave the ball to L’Amoreaux to close out the tournament Sunday morning against the University of Montana (9-11). Pappas continued her hot streak, tripling in the first to get Binghamton on the board. Redshirt junior outfielder Chloe Morgan batted 2-2 in this contest and added a sacrifice bunt. The Bearcats were unable to capitalize on any of their baserunners, however, stranding six and ultimately finished the tournament with a 3-1 loss to Montana.
“We’re continuing to learn and continuing to improve,” Bump said. “I’m really excited to see how the next few weeks go.”
BU’s next game is scheduled for Wednesday, March 16 against Howard University. The game will be played at the Washington Nationals Youth Baseball Academy in Washington, DC and the time of the first pitch is yet to be announced.