In its first taste of action this season, the Binghamton softball team made program history, defeating a Big-12 member for the first time. The Bearcats took down Oklahoma State, 6-3, on Sunday morning, to cap off play at the Michele Smith Pediatric Cancer Invitational.
The victory was one of two recorded by BU over the weekend. The Bearcats kicked off their year with a loss to Wisconsin on Thursday night but rebounded with a shutout of St. Joseph’s on Friday afternoon. Before taking down Oklahoma, BU suffered three straight losses, including two to nationally ranked teams including James Madison and South Florida.
In its win over Oklahoma, BU benefited from the long ball, as both senior infielder Crysti Eichner and freshman catcher Sara Herskowitz hit two-run homers to lead the Bearcats over the Cowgirls. Herskowitz’s homer — the first of her college career — put BU on the board in the second. Eichner, who led the Bearcats with six RBIs over the weekend, hit her two-run bomb to break a 2-2 tie in the fourth and hand the Bearcats a lead they wouldn’t give up.
The victory over the Cowgirls marked BU’s second over a team receiving votes in the National Fastpitch Coaches Association Division I poll. The first came in February 2014 when the Bearcats defeated South Florida, 1-0.
BU’s pitching staff, which includes just one upperclassman, impressed in both of BU’s wins. Freshman pitcher Rayn Gibson turned in a complete game for BU to pick up the win over Oklahoma State.
“Rayn [Gibson], in the win over Oklahoma State, was just really composed on the mound,” said BU head coach Michelle Burrell Johnston. “We had a couple of questionable calls, but she just stayed really composed on the mound. We were happy to see her go all seven innings as well.”
Another highlight inside the circle for the Bearcats was the shutout thrown by freshman pitcher Rozlyn Price en route to a 4-0 win over St. Joseph’s.
“[Price] started off a little inconsistent, and the farther she went into the game, the better she pitched and she got stronger as the game went on,” Johnston said. “It was really good to see her go that entire game.”
Offensively, senior outfielder Bridget Hunt led the way for BU. Hunt, who has missed time during her career due to injuries, hit a team-best .385. She blasted an RBI triple in the seventh inning of BU’s victory over St. Joseph’s and drove in the final run against Oklahoma State.
While Hunt impressed behind the plate, the team as a whole was shut out twice over the course of the weekend by South Florida and James Madison.
“We were putting pressure on their defenses; we just weren’t necessarily coming through with the big hit at certain times,” Burrell Johnston said. “We need to make sure that we’re staying relaxed when we have runners in scoring position.”
The Bearcats have two weeks off before returning to the diamond. BU is set to compete at the South Utah Tournament from March 3 to March 5.