This weekend, the Binghamton softball team will travel to Baltimore to participate in the UMBC Retriever Classic. The Bearcats (3-10), are set to play five games against nonconference opponents from the Metro Atlantic Athletic Conference (MAAC).
BU is coming off a tough showing after being swept in the St. John’s Invitational last weekend, losing to UMass Amherst, St. John’s University, Boston University and Hofstra. Overall, the team has lost its last five matchups. The invitational marked the toughest competition the Bearcats have faced this season, as all four of their opponents advanced to their respective conference title games last season.
The Bearcats will open the classic with a game on Friday against Monmouth. The Hawks (8-13), are coming off a 1-4 performance at the Loyola Marymount Tournament. Picked to finish second in the MAAC Softball Preseason Coaches’ Poll, there are high expectations for the team’s performance this season. Thus far, the Hawks own the fourth-best winning percentage during nonconference play in the MAAC. Monmouth is led by head coach Shannon Salsburg, who is in her third season with the program. Salsburg has compiled a record of 62-65 at the helm, leading Monmouth to the conference championship round in both of her first two seasons. On the field, the Hawks have been captained by senior pitcher Amanda Riley, who last season was named to the All-MAAC First Team, and this season was named to the Preseason All-MAAC Team.
On Saturday, Binghamton will hit the diamond and take on Rider University in a doubleheader. The Broncos (2-13) are currently on a seven-game losing streak and sit in tenth place among their MAAC opponents. In the preseason poll, Rider was tied for last place with St. Peter’s, which the Bearcats will face off against on Sunday.
The Bearcats will conclude the event with a doubleheader against Saint Peter’s University. The Peacocks (2-10) have also lost their last seven matches and currently sit in ninth place in the MAAC. Neither Saint Peter’s nor Rider had any players named to the all-conference preseason team.
Entering the season as the favorite to win the America East title, BU will be looking to rebound from its early season woes. Having four of their five games against teams that have been struggling should allow the Bearcats an opportunity to get their season back on track and build their confidence. During last week’s matchups, defense was a problem for the team, allowing at least eight runs in each of BU’s past four games. It will be up to BU head coach Michelle Johnston to spend the week of preparation responding to the issues faced last week.
Despite Binghamton’s slow start, there have been positive individual performances for the team throughout the season. Senior second baseman Stephanie Bielec is currently on a team-best five-game hitting streak, and freshman catcher and first baseman Alex Guay finished last weekend’s games with a .455 batting average. The Bearcats were picked first in their conference for a reason, and the talent of the team that reached its conference title game last year is looking to bounce back as the season goes on.
In its first matchup of the event, Binghamton is set to face off against Monmouth on Friday, March 23. First pitch is scheduled for 2:30 p.m. from the UMBC Softball Stadium in Baltimore, Maryland.