The Binghamton softball team traveled to UMass Lowell prepared to play a three-game weekend series, but inclement weather turned it into a two-game series. In its first America East (AE) competition of the season, the Bearcats split the series with the River Hawks coming away with a 2-1 extra-innings victory in game two.
“Getting that win the second game today was big,” said Binghamton head coach Jess Bump. “You can’t get swept, you always gotta grab a win here and there to help you out at the end of the year, so I was happy with how our pitching and defense stayed strong today.”
Game one was played over the course of two days. On Saturday, BU (14-14, 1-1 AE) and the River Hawks (19-12, 4-1 AE) got through four and a half innings of competition before play was suspended due to rain. The game started off as a pitcher’s duel between both sides, as it was scoreless after three and a half innings. UMass Lowell, however, broke the game open in the bottom of the fourth inning scoring five runs. On the mound for the Bearcats was graduate student pitcher Chelsea Howard. In 3.2 innings pitched, Howard conceded five runs, three hits and five walks. The Bearcat accumulated five strikeouts in the process as well.
Offensively, Binghamton struggled to get anything going. Despite the Bearcats’ trouble heating up their bats, freshman outfielder Alayna Harbaugh was able to get a hit in game one, extending her hitting streak to seven games. The freshman’s on-base percentage for the series was .625.
“I think [Harbaugh] in our lead-off spot continues to do really well for us,” Bump said. “She’s getting on base a lot.”
On Sunday, game one picked up where it left off in the fifth inning as BU attempted to make up a five-run deficit. The Bearcats’ best chance at a comeback came in the top of the sixth inning when they had two runners on base with only one out. Back-to-back strikeouts, however, prevented Binghamton from getting on the board as they fell 5-0 to the River Hawks in game one.
“The team that makes the least [number] of mistakes and makes the better adjustments is probably gonna win the game,” Bump said. “I think in game one, [UMass Lowell] just made some adjustments offensively and we didn’t.”
In game two, BU saw standout performances on the mound from sophomore pitcher Allison L’Amoreaux and senior pitcher Sophia Pappas. L’Amoreaux got the start pitching five innings, only giving up one unearned run and four hits while striking out five batters in the process. Pappas came in for relief in the bottom of the sixth inning and held the River Hawks hitless through five innings.
“[L’Amoreaux] gave us a good start,” Bump said. “Both her and [Pappas] did a really good job of just commanding the zone today. I think they did a much better job of mixing pitches and keeping [UMass Lowell’s] hitters off balance.”
Binghamton continued to struggle offensively in the second game but came away with timely hits. The Bearcats got the scoring started in the first inning thanks to an RBI double from senior utility Alli Richmond. The River Hawks evened up the score in the fifth inning before both sides went on a five-inning scoring drought, forcing extra innings. Ultimately, in the 10th inning, BU ended the drought with an RBI single from Pappas.
With a one-run advantage heading into the bottom of the 10th, Pappas looked to close the game out on the mound. The Bearcat struck out two of the three batters she faced to give Binghamton the 2-1 win. Over the weekend, Pappas pitched in both games, combining for 7.1 innings, allowing zero hits and striking out eight batters. The senior lowered her ERA to 2.85, good enough for the lowest on the team.
“We struggled a little bit offensively this weekend, but we didn’t let it carry over to the other side of the game which I was really proud of the girls about,” Bump said. “We’ve been working really hard and that win will be really big for us.”
BU continues AE competition against UAlbany on Wednesday, April 13 for a doubleheader. First pitch of game one is scheduled for 2 p.m. at the Albany Field in Albany, New York.