At the St. John’s Invitational this weekend, the Binghamton softball team continued to focus on improving before more meaningful conference play begins. The team fought back hard in its first two games against UMass and St. John’s, but lost all four of its games at the invitational.
In the first two games of the tournament, the Bearcats (3-10) fell behind early and could not manage to claw their way back to the lead. They allowed a total of 13 runs through the first two innings over both games. BU put together some rallies, but could not manage to achieve a comeback in either matchup.
The Bearcats started their first game of the St. John’s Invitational against the Minutemen going down five in the bottom of the second inning. Binghamton showed resilience, not only bringing the lead down to two after a three-run third inning, but then regaining the lead in the third and tying the game again in the bottom of the fifth. However, the Bearcats’ efforts were insufficient as BU fell to UMass Amherst, 12-9.
During the next game, the Bearcats allowed an even more disheartening lead to the Red Storm (7-18), giving up eight runs in the first two innings. While the team responded with four runs and held St. John’s scoreless across four innings, the deficit proved too much to overcome as the Red Storm captured the win, 8-4.
BU head coach Michelle Johnston was proud of the way her team fought back in those games, but did not see that same fight on Sunday.
“On Saturday, I thought we got behind early and we worked throughout the game to score runs,” Johnston said. “So, Saturday I was pleased with the fight we had throughout the entire game and we didn’t necessarily show that today.”
On Sunday, Binghamton was overpowered by Boston University and Hofstra, scoring a total of only three runs. The Bearcats started the day strong with two home runs against the Terriers (10-14), but quickly fell behind, allowing Boston to take the lead and losing the game, 10-2. Binghamton rounded out the invitational with a 9-1 loss to the Pride (14-7).
Johnston emphasized the need for consistency when batting, especially with runners in scoring position and the need for better quality at-bats in the future. Defense was also a major concern for the Bearcats, which Johnston presumed to be a strength of the team coming into the season.
“I don’t think we’re very happy with the results,” Johnston said. “I think in all the games, we gave them a lot of extra opportunities, just because of mistakes we were making defensively. We had plenty of chances to get out of innings.”
Despite the defensive struggles, Johnston is sure this team can bounce back.
“We definitely want to see our defense improve and I just think we are making not typical mistakes, [ones] that we normally wouldn’t make,” Johnston said. “I think we just need to clean our defense up and maybe work on some more pressure situations during practices.”
One player she thinks will rebound is sophomore pitcher Rayn Gibson. Gibson started off the year 0-5 following these tournament losses. However, Johnston still believes Gibson does not have anything mechanical to fix.
“I think our defense is not helping and we obviously would like her to respond a little bit better from after mistakes or giving up hits,” Johnston said. “I think [Gibson] right now just has to get her confidence back.”
Last season, Gibson finished second in the conference, winning nine games and posting a 3.37 ERA. Johnston is confident Gibson will improve and start to have outings more similar to those of last season.
“She’s shown good potential,” Johnston said, “And we just need her to be confident in herself.”
Despite the disappointing results, some Bearcats put together strong outings. Freshman infielder Alex Guay went five-for-11 with two runs and an RBI, and sophomore catcher Sara Herskowitz posted an impressive five-for-12 with two runs and two RBIs. Now Johnston is looking toward the future, hoping to turn the squad’s season around with a solid week of practice.
“We wanna put in some work this week and hopefully come out and play better next weekend,” Johnston said.
The Bearcats is set to face Monmouth at the UMBC Retriever Classic on March 23 at 2:30 p.m. in Baltimore, Maryland.