We have consolidated all of our University news sources into one location called BingUNews. Inside stories published through 2016 will remain available here. Stories published in 2017 and later will be found at BingUNews. Enjoy!
Senior outfielder Sydney Harbaugh has been named the first-term all-conference for the past three seasons.
Photo by Jonathan Cohen
Softball preview: Bearcats look to return to NCAA tournament
February 29, 2016Tweet
The Binghamton softball team is coming off a landmark season in 2015. After coming close the previous two years, the Bearcats finally won the America East championship and advanced to the NCAA Division I Tournament for the first time in program history. Although their season ended with a pair of defeats at the James Madison Regional, the Bearcats had plenty to take away from their historic campaign.
“I think winning the America East Championship last year was a big step for our program,” head coach Michelle Burrell said. “I’m glad our players were able to experience advancing to NCAAs and everything that comes along with being conference champions. We look forward to being better prepared in the future when we are able to get back to Regionals.”
All but one player returns from last year’s squad. This includes a trio of first-team all-conference selections as well as a pair of second-team picks. Binghamton has been chosen to finish first in the America East this season in the preseason conference poll. In short, the outlook for the 2016 campaign continues to be bright.
“We are looking forward to the start of season,” Burrell said. “The team has put in a lot of work since last May. They worked on individual strength and speed over the summer and we were able to get a lot of quality work done as a team during the fall season. We have been lucky to be outside for practices already this semester and are anxious to go play outside competition.”
Binghamton returns all three of its starting outfielders, two of which were named all-conference in 2015.
Senior Sydney Harbaugh, who plays primarily in right field, was named first-team all-conference for the third year in a row. She hit .348 with a career-high nine home runs and 32 RBI. Three of her home runs came in the America East Tournament.
Sophomore Jessica Rutherford, who returns in center field, was named second-team all-conference as well as the America East Rookie of the Year. She hit .329 with four home runs and 29 RBI.
In left field, junior Gabby Bracchi was the starter last season and finished with a .314 batting average. Fellow junior Bridget Hunt, who also plays left field, was recovering from off-season surgery last year after being named to the America East All-Rookie Team in 2014. Sophomore Carrie Maniccia appeared in 33 games last season as a pinch runner and provides valuable depth to all of the outfield positions.
“Our outfielders are all returning from last year and we have been really impressed with how their range as a group continues to improves,” Burrell said. “We have a lot of experience with Sydney, Bridget, Gabby and Jessica and they work very well together. We’ve also been working with the infield to cover as much ground as possible and believe this will be a strength of ours this year.”
The Bearcats return four of their full-time starting infielders from last season. Three of them were named all-conference and two were named to the America East All-Rookie Team.
Senior Lisa Cadogan was the starting catcher last season after playing first base the previous two years. She hit a team-best .429 with 11 home runs and a school-record 53 RBI. Cadogan was also named first-team All-Region.
Fellow senior Taylor Chaffee moved to first base last season after catching the previous two years. She was named first-team all-conference after batting .312 with seven home runs and 28 RBI.
Sophomore Kate Richard returns at third base after being named second-team all-conference last year. She belted six home runs and was also named to the America East All-Rookie Team. Joining Richard on the All-Rookie team in 2015 is current sophomore Stephanie Bielec, who returns at second base.
The Bearcats lost four-year starting shortstop Caytlin Friis to graduation. Junior Crysti Eichner, however, started in that position 14 times last year after being the full-time third baseman in 2014.
Sophomore Tia Smith started in 16 games last season as the designated player and ended the year with a .306 average. Fellow sophomore Jill Bovitt appeared in 31 games as a pinch runner and scored 13 times. Junior Kim Santiago was injured last season but was one of the Bearcats’ primary pinch runners in her rookie year.
“We will be replacing Caytlin Friis—our only senior from last year—with Crysti Eichner at shortstop,” Burrell said. “Crysti already has played significant time at both short stop and third base, so we feel good about the overall experience of the infield group. Taylor Chaffee and Lisa Cadogan have been rotating between first base and catcher the last three years, so their experience and leadership will be important to the team this year.”
Senior Griffin McIver, Bovitt and Hunt are versatile utility players that can fill in almost anywhere defensively.
“Each of have different strengths that they bring to our lineup and we will be looking to use that depth throughout the season,” Burrell said. “McIver’s leadership and experience are very valuable to the team as she is a second-year captain.”
Sophomore Sarah Miller and senior Cara Martin are the top two returning pitchers. Miller led the staff with 11 wins and was named the Most Outstanding Player in the America East Tournament. Martin, meanwhile, was the primary relief pitcher and racked up 10 wins in addition to recording a pair of saves.
Junior Shelby Donhauser has been a starting pitcher the past two seasons and senior Stephanie Arneson also returns. Freshmen Allison Pritchard and Makenzie Goluba both join the squad this year.
“We have a large staff this year with the addition of our two freshmen. They all throw very different from each other with different mixes of pitches, so we will be looking for all of them to contribute. Sarah Miller and Cara Martin had a strong finish to the spring season last year and both have been working hard to be even better this season.”
AMERICA EAST CONFERENCE
America East play starts with a three-game weekend series at UMass Lowell March 26-27. Also on the road, the Bearcats head to Maine (April 16-17) and Albany (April 30-May 1). At home, Binghamton hosts UMBC (April 2-3), Stony Brook (April 23-24) and Hartford (May 6-7).
This year, the America East Tournament will expand from four teams to six. The four-day, double-elimination event will be hosted by the regular-season champion May 11-14. The top two seeds in the tournament will receive a first-round bye. UMass Lowell remains ineligible for the tournament because it is still in its transition phase to the NCAA Division I level. The River Hawks will become eligible in 2018.
“The conference tournament will be a little different this year with all six (eligible) teams qualifying,” Burrell said. “The No. 1 and No. 2 seeds will get a bye for the first round of the tournament, so it will be a goal of ours to work for the bye heading into the championship.”