Photo Provided Junior catcher Lisa Cadogan leads BU with a .404 batting average this season.

Opening the season with an even 9-9 record after 18 straight non-conference matchups, the Binghamton softball team will look to tip its win percentage past .500 this weekend when it begins its America East season at Hartford. The Bearcats aim to rebound from last weekend’s North Carolina State Hyatt Place Invitational, in which they lost to three separate teams before coming back in the seventh inning to defeat Lipscomb in the tournament finale.

Despite being outscored 26-15 in North Carolina, the Bearcats headed home on a positive note after Sunday’s come-from-behind win.

“We were down to our last out in that game, and to be able to come back and finish that was really important going into this weekend,” BU head coach Michelle Burrell said. “It gave the girls some confidence. Being able to finish that, I think, was important.”

In preparation for conference play, Binghamton has faced a slate of opponents that has varied in competition level. That included third-ranked Michigan and 25th-ranked North Carolina State. While they didn’t come out on top in either matchup, the exposure to high caliber opponents provided the young Bearcats an opportunity to develop at the plate.

“This past weekend, at the NC State Tournament, we saw some good, quality pitchers that will definitely prepare our hitters,” Burrell said. “I think our girls should feel pretty confident about what they’re going to see. Overall, the level of competition that we’ve faced should definitely prepare us for conference, but we’re going to want our defense to play a little better than what we did last weekend and just really work to minimize any kind of extra opportunities that we give them.”

The defense will be led on the mound by freshman pitcher Sarah Miller — who has started nine games for the Bearcats — as well as junior pitcher Cara Martin who has appeared in 14 games and leads the team with a 3.92 ERA. After not allowing an earned run at the Myrtle Beach Tournament earlier this season, Martin was named the America East Pitcher of the Week on March 10.

On the offensive end, BU will look to continue to receive contributions from junior outfielder Sydney Harbaugh and junior infielder Lisa Cadogan, who lead the Bearcats with batting averages of .393 and .404, respectively.

“We’re just going to go in and really work to play our game,” Burrell said. “I think our approach is going to be to go out and try to win every inning. We’re looking forward to coming out and starting conference play and playing our game.”

Hartford (1-17) rides a 12-game losing streak into the weekend, a slump that dates back to March 7. In each of their three meetings last year, the Bearcats were triumphant over the Hawks, who finished the season at the bottom of the conference standings in amassing just a 2-16 record in AE play.

The Hawks’ offense is led by freshman infielder Jamie Soles, who paces the team with a .340 batting average, and senior catcher Peyton Fisher, who leads the Hawks with a .490 slugging percentage and seven extra base hits.

First pitch for Sunday’s doubleheader is scheduled for 1 p.m. with a second game to follow shortly after. First pitch in Monday’s finale is set for noon. All games will be played at University of Hartford Softball Field in West Hartford, Connecticut.