As Mets hopeful Tim Tebow fights for a spot in the majors and Yankees outfielders Aaron Judge and Giancarlo Stanton begin to mesh in spring training in the MLB, the Binghamton softball team is ready to start its season. Last season, the Bearcats managed to win the America East regular season title with an impressive 11-4 conference record, despite an overall record of 22-25.
After a disappointing loss to Maine in the 2017 America East Tournament, BU is beginning to focus on a fresh slate.
“Last season was last season,” said BU head coach Michelle Johnston. “I think we’re really looking forward right now. We’ve got a long way to go before we get to conference.”
Johnston has put an emphasis on using a game-by-game approach instead of clinging to the past or lunging toward the future.
“We try to [say] last year was last year and focus on this year,” said senior second baseman Stephanie Bielec. “If we want to take small things from last year, if anything it just makes us work harder. But we just try to take every game, game by game, inning by inning even. So we don’t really try to keep that too much into our minds.”
Johnston said she is proud of the team’s work ethic. Even with a delayed start to the season, the team has meshed well in practices leading up to its opener.
“I really like the way the team is working together right now,” Johnston said. “I think we’ve just a really good culture within the team of working hard and working for each other and I just hope they can continue that throughout the season. The team as a whole put a lot of work into the past offseason despite being forced to practice indoors most times. Now the team is ready to see how well that translates to the field. This is a week later than we normally start, so we feel like we’re ready to get out and play.”
Senior outfielder Jessica Rutherford is looking to continue her notable career in her final season with the Bearcats. Rutherford was named AE Rookie of the Year in 2015 and first-team AE All-Conference multiple times. She had the highest batting average out of all returning players for Binghamton, hitting .358 last season.
Sophomore starting pitcher Rayn Gibson is excited to play with hitters like Rutherford behind her. She is comforted knowing that she will always have a hard-hitting offense to back her up. Gibson is one of two starting pitchers who started as freshmen last year. Now, with a new lefty freshman pitcher, Chelsea Howard, joining the rotation, they have a strong new core. Despite being a mix of underclassmen and upperclassmen, the pitchers feel very comfortable as a group.
“We all support each other and work together,” Gibson said. “We all complement each other really well. Just being there for each other, working inning by inning. When, say, it’s your time to come out, trusting the pitcher coming in behind you to be able to pick you up or keep things in a good pace.”
The team is ready to start its season and begin its journey to avenge its AE Tournament defeat. When asked if she has sights on the AE title, Bielec stayed true to the team’s philosophy.
“That would be obviously amazing,” Bielec said. “But we have so much time until then that we’re really not trying to reach too far right now. We’re just taking it day by day.”
The Bearcats are set to start the season in Beaumont, Texas, facing off in the Lamar Cardinal Classic against Alabama A&M University on Friday at 10:30 a.m.