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America East softball player of the week Jessica Rutherford hit a home run in the Bearcats' sweep of Hartford.
Photo by Jonathan Cohen
Softball clinches America East regular-season title
May 9, 2016Tweet
Sophomore outfielder Jessica Rutherford went 4-for-5 with a home run and five RBI, powering Binghamton(33-13, 14-3 AE) to a 9-1, 10-2 sweep over Hartford (6-43, 2-14 AE) in an America East softball doubleheader on May 7 at the Bearcats Sports Complex. With the victories, the Bearcats clinch their first-ever America East regular-season championship and will host the conference tournament May 11-14.
As the top-seed in the tournament, Binghamton receives a first-round bye in the America East Tournament. The Bearcats will play in their first game in the second round at 11 a.m. Thursday. Binghamton enters the event as the defending champion, having won as the No. 3 seed last year.
This marks the second time in four seasons that Binghamton has hosted the America East Tournament. In 2013, the Bearcats were the No. 2 seed, but top-seeded Albany deferred the right to host. With its two wins against Hartford on Saturday, Binghamton is a perfect 10-0 at the Bearcats Sports Complex this season.
The softball team is the first Binghamton program to win an America East regular-season title since the baseball team in 2010.
Against Hartford on Saturday, Rutherford had three of her hits go for extra bases and scored three times. She now leads the team with a .447 batting average and has driven in a team-best 45 runs.
Senior designated player Griffin McIver and junior shortstop Crysti Eichner also went 4-for-5 in the doubleheader against the Hawks. McIver belted her team-best 14th home run in the process.
Rutherford got things started for Binghamton in the opening game. With the Bearcats down 1-0 in the bottom of the first inning, she tied the game with a RBI double. One inning later, Rutherford put the Bearcats ahead with her second RBI double in as many at-bats. She then scored on a wild pitch to make it 3-1.
The Bearcats sealed game with six runs in the bottom of the fifth inning—all with two outs. McIver and senior catcher Taylor Chaffee each drilled a two-run home run, putting the Bearcats ahead 7-1. Sophomore right fielder Carrier Maniccia singled home the Bearcats fifth run of the inning and scored the walk off run one batter later on a base hit by junior outfielder Gabby Bracchi.
Sophomore pitcher Sarah Miller went the distance to improve to 15-6. The loss was tagged to Bianca Ross, who is now 4-18.
In the nightcap, Rutherford again played a pivotal role. With the score tied 1-1 in the bottom of the third inning, she drilled a three-run home run over the left field fence. Later in the frame, the Bearcats got a RBI single from sophomore third baseman Kate Richard and a two-run double by Bracchi to go up 7-1.
One inning later, Binghamton tacked on three more runs, giving them the deficit it would need to finish off the game in five innings. Chaffee and McIver had RBI singles and Rutherford scored on a fielder’s choice by Eichner.
Senior pitcher Cara Martin raised her record to 11-4 while Kelsey Bird dropped to 0-7 with the loss.
Sophomore second baseman Stephanie Bielec finished the day 3-for-5 and scored a team-high four runs. Chaffee hit .500 (2-for-4) while Richard and Bracchi each went 2-for-5 (.400).
As a team, the Bearcats hit .523, raising their batting average for the year up to .353.