With the support of a home crowd behind it, the Binghamton softball team shut down Maine yesterday in the first round of the America East (AE) Tournament, winning 3-1. With the victory, the Bearcats (17-23, 9-9 AE) advance to take on top-seeded Albany in the next round of the tournament.

Binghamton’s defensive effort took center stage in the game and was predicated on an efficient outing by sophomore starting pitcher Rayn Gibson. Gibson, who struggled at several points this season, managed to stymie the Maine lineup, holding the Black Bears (20-24, 9-7 AE) to a single run while pitching a complete game.

On the offensive side, the Bearcats got to work immediately in the first inning, loading the bases with no outs on two singles and a walk. Freshman infielder Makayla Alvarez then grounded into a double play, but the play allowed senior outfielder Jessica Rutherford to advance from third to home, giving the Bearcats the lead.

Rutherford continued to make her mark on the game with an RBI sacrifice fly in the fourth to give the Bearcats another run, while freshman outfielder Lauren Martinez homered in the sixth to give Binghamton a 3-0 lead. All the while, Gibson continued to prevent Maine from getting on the scoreboard.

Gibson’s lone blemish of the game came on a solo home run from Maine junior third baseman Alyssa Derrick, but she responded in the bottom of the seventh with a one-hit inning to seal the first-round victory for the Bearcats.

Binghamton’s next opponent will be much tougher than Maine, as Albany (28-13, 13-4 AE) has earned the top seed in the tournament. The good news for the Bearcats is that even if they lose, the tournament has a double-elimination format.

The Bearcats’ second-round matchup takes place Thursday at 11 a.m. from the Bearcats Sports Complex in Vestal, New York.