With season expectations at a high and feelings of redemption flooding the clubhouse, the Binghamton softball team opened its year with just one victory in the Lamar Cardinal Classic. Even though the Bearcats (1-3) dropped two games to Lamar University as well as one to Alabama A&M University, they still managed to pull out a win against Loyola University Chicago.
“I thought we got better each game, so that was good to see,” said BU head coach Michelle Johnston. “We did some things really well and others not so well, so I think we got a good idea of what we want to come back to work on and how to improve going into next weekend.”
Despite the second showdown with Alabama A&M being rained out Sunday morning, BU kicked off its 2018 season matching up with the Bulldogs down in the Lone Star State. Binghamton, only able to keep Alabama A&M scoreless through 2 1/5 innings, committed two costly errors that turned into a pair of unearned runs. Even though the team held the Bulldogs to just two hits on the day, BU left seven runners on base in the season debut and failed to score in the 4-0 defeat.
Hoping to secure its first victory, Binghamton took on Lamar (6-6) in the nightcap on Friday. As opposed to the opener, the Bearcats found their stride offensively as they posted 11 hits and four runs in their second game. Although the team was down 7-2 in the top of the seventh inning, BU tacked on two runs from an RBI triple by senior infielder Kate Richard and an RBI single by freshman infielder Alex Guay.
Unable to drive in runners when the stakes were the highest, the Bearcats ultimately fell to the hosts, 7-4, and left 12 runners stranded during the game. The contest concluded with the Bearcats leaving the bases loaded to the Cardinals.
“We were putting good pressure on throughout the entire game, so that was one of the things we’ve been working on,” Johnston said. “We obviously didn’t come up with some clutch hits and we made some mistakes on the bases as well.”
Still seeking their first victory, the Bearcats were scheduled for another doubleheader against the Ramblers (5-4) and the Cardinals on Saturday. Under the cloudy Texas sky, Binghamton struck first against Loyola Chicago off of Richard’s sacrifice fly in the bottom of the first inning. After five shutout innings and six runs scored, three of which were a career-high batted in by sophomore designated hitter Kassidy Seary, BU came out on top against the Ramblers, 6-2.
“[Seary] has been working really hard … it was good to see her take advantage of her opportunities,” Johnston said. “She had some good at-bats and was working through her at-bats really well, so we were definitely pleased with her performance.”
Failing to carry its momentum from the first victory, Binghamton was shut out for the second time on the weekend in Saturday’s nightcap. Squaring off with the Cardinals again, the hosts held the Bearcats to just three hits in the 2-0 loss. Sophomore starting pitcher Rozlyn Price earned her second defeat of the season, collecting only two strikeouts in three innings pitched.
Although the Bearcats opened their season with three defeats and only one win, the reigning America East champions appeared to be shaking off some expected offseason rust. Scheduled to take on tough competition such as the Czech National Team and the University of California Santa Barbara in its next series, Binghamton will certainly look to refocus and address multiple areas for improvement.
“We want to clean up our base running a little bit and we want to be aggressive on the bases, but smart as well,” Johnston said. “If we can continue to put the pressure on that we did throughout this weekend, we’ll eventually see the results with scoring more runs.”
Softball is set to match up with the University of Notre Dame on Saturday, March 3 as a part of the Citrus Classic 2. First pitch from ESPN Wide World of Sports Complex in Orlando, Florida is expected at 12:30 p.m.