On Wednesday, the Binghamton softball team took a break from America East (AE) play with a midweek doubleheader against in-state opponents Syracuse University. After dropping game one to the Orange 4-2, the Bearcats bounced back in game two, winning 12-3 by mercy rule and securing the split.
”That’s the one thing about this team — we’ve [been] really great at making adjustments,” said Binghamton head coach Jess Bump. “We always talk about not losing two in a row, and I thought they came out in that second game and really focused on the things we talked about in between games.”
The first contest began in quick scoring fashion as both BU (21-13, 7-4 AE) and Syracuse (15-22-1, 4-12-1 Atlantic Coastal Conference [ACC]) ended the first inning with runs to their names. The Bearcats put up their first run of the day thanks to a redshirt sophomore outfielder Brianna Santos double. They could not match the visitors, however, who plated two during their half of the frame and held the lead. Both sides remained scoreless over the following two innings as the Orange led 2-1 halfway through the contest.
Binghamton eventually tied the game in the bottom of the fourth when junior catcher Hailey Ehlers singled to right field. The host’s comeback effort halted there, however, as Syracuse staged its response in the following frame. The visitors added two runs in the top of the fifth and took a 4-2 lead. That advantage would hold for the remainder of the first game as both sides went scoreless in the following innings. Santos and Ehlers highlighted BU’s offense, each notching an RBI hit in the game.
“The first game we were a little disappointed we left a lot of runners on base and didn’t quite execute with runners in scoring position,” Bump said. “We just talked about, after the game, that’s gotta be our focus, especially going into this weekend against UMass Lowell.”
In game two, the visitors started off in similar fashion, scoring a run in the top of the first off of a home run. Offense stalled once again for both sides, however, as no runs were scored over the next three innings. Binghamton had a chance to knot things up in the bottom of the fourth inning, having bases loaded with two outs as freshman catcher Emma Lawson stepped in as a pinch hitter. The freshman fired a ground ball through the infield, scoring two runs and taking the lead off of her single. Immediately after, redshirt sophomore infielder Gabby Guerrero smacked a three-run homer into left field and brought the Bearcats advantage to 5-1.
“I think pinch hitting is probably the hardest thing to do in softball, coming cold off the bench,” Bump said. “[Lawson’s] been doing a really great job all year, and we have great confidence in her. Usually she’s up with runners in scoring position in really tight situations. She’s super confident, really poised [and] went after the first pitch after not seeing a pitch all day. Super proud of her and then obviously after her, [Guererro] came up with that home run which we were just talking about moving the line and keeping it going.”
Syracuse staged another quick response in the fifth, sending a two-run homer over the fence and shrinking its deficit to 5-3. Despite this, the Binghamton bats continued to shine in the bottom of the fifth. Santos singled with the bases loaded to score two, followed by graduate student pitcher Sophia Pappas who drove a run in on a double. Freshman infielder Akira Kopec capped off the seven run inning along with the game as she slapped a three RBI double to take a 12-3 lead as BU took game two off of a mercy rule victory.
“In that first game, we were just taking a lot of good pitches early on in our counts and not necessarily getting great outcomes,” Bump said. “We’ve been talking about having productive outs, and we really didn’t do that the first game. I thought the girls really made great adjustments and good focus, and that’s what we’ve been doing all year. When we are focused and we’re going after pitches, we know that we can hit hard, and that’s why you saw the better results [in game two].”
Binghamton will return to conference action this weekend when it takes on UMass Lowell at home, starting on Saturday, April 22. First pitch is set for noon at the Bearcats Sports Complex in Vestal, New York.