In a battle with its conference rival, the Binghamton softball team took on Albany in a doubleheader Tuesday afternoon on the road. The Bearcats (10-15, 3-2 America East) began by suffering a blowout 10-0 defeat against the Great Danes (16-10, 4-3 AE), but rebounded with a close 6-5 victory in game two.
BU entered the day after taking two of three in a series victory over UMBC last weekend. In the team’s final outing, sophomore pitcher Rayn Gibson struck out nine while pitching a complete shutout as Binghamton defeated the Retrievers, 7-0. In recognition of her performance, Gibson was named America East Pitcher of the Week, the second time in her career that she received the honor.
Gibson (5-6) took the mound for game one, facing off against Albany junior pitcher Celeste Verdolivo (8-1). But the Great Danes jumped out to an 8-0 lead in the bottom of the first inning, loading the bases with one out and never looking back.
“We just got off to a bad start,” said BU head coach Michelle Johnston. “A lot of it were things that we probably could have controlled early, and then a couple of hits just fell in between our infielders and our outfielders that we couldn’t get to.”
In the bottom of the fourth inning, senior outfielder Donna Conrad hit a home run, giving Albany a 10-0 advantage. As the Great Danes were ahead by eight runs at the end of the fifth inning, the NCAA mercy rules applied, ending the game and giving Albany a shutout victory.
“We didn’t hit the ball all that bad, but we just had some hits that were right at them,” Johnston said. “We were hoping to respond and work to play all seven innings, and we were disappointed that we didn’t give ourselves an opportunity to do that.”
Game two featured a battle of freshman pitchers, with freshman Chelsea Howard (3-2) taking the mound for BU and freshman Maranda Jimenez (5-5) starting for Albany.
The Bearcats scored the first run of the game, which was countered by Albany scoring two unanswered to take a 2-1 lead. In the top of the fourth inning, sophomore infielder Kassidy Seary hit a three-run homer to retake the lead for Binghamton.
“[Seary] came up with a big hit. [Senior infielder Carrie Maniccia] did a great job, she had a bunt and a single,” Johnston said. “[Freshman outfielder Lauren Martinez] had a big double to start off an inning for us. I was happy that they were working for each other offensively, and seemed to be getting some momentum and riding with it.”
Leading 6-4 in the bottom of the seventh, sophomore pitcher Rozlyn Price looked to preserve the game for the Bearcats. With two outs on the board, Albany hit a homer to cut the margin to one, and a single put the tying run on base, but Price prevailed, and Binghamton won the game 6-5, rebounding from the disastrous first game and giving them a split in the doubleheader. Contributing to the success was senior outfielder Jessica Rutherford, who earned two hits during the game, one of which was an RBI in the top of the sixth inning that ultimately helped power BU to a two-run lead over the Great Danes.
“We had to let the first game go and come back and work for game two,” Johnston said. “I thought we did that. The game just went back and forth.”
So far this season, BU has been unable to play its home games at the Bearcats Sports Complex due to weather-related issues complicating the completion of upgrades to its softball facility. Last weekend’s series was played at Chenango Valley High School, and next weekend’s series against Stony Brook has been relocated to Cornell while next Tuesday’s doubleheader against Syracuse will now be played on the road.
“We are optimistic that games will be played this season on our field, but the date is entirely weather dependent,” said the Binghamton University athletics department in a statement. “We are hopeful that the weather will improve and allow the upgrades to be completed.”
The Bearcats are set to take the diamond next on Saturday to begin a three-game series against Stony Brook on Saturday. First pitch is set for noon at the Niemand-Robison Softball Field in Ithaca, New York.