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Dana Nielsen
Dana Nielsen
Courtesy: Marc Hagemeier
Softball Plays Two Tight Games on Second Day of UNCW Beach Bash
Release:   03/01/2014

Game One: Brown 10, Bucknell 9 (eight innings)
Game Two:
UNCW 3, Bucknell 2

WILMINGTON, N.C. – The Bucknell softball team suffered two one-run losses on the second day of the UNCW Beach Bash tournament, falling 10-9 to Brown in eight innings in its morning contest on Boseman Field, and dropping a 3-2 decision to the host school in its second game of the day. The Bison fall to 2-6 overall with the pair of defeats, while the Bears improve to 1-3 and the Seahawks lift their record to 8-7.

Junior Cydnee Sanders led Bucknell’s offense on the second day of competition, going 4-for-8, including a 3-for-5 appearance against Brown. Freshman Jacee Almond also continues to make an impact on the Bison batting lineup, hitting 3-for-7 with three runs on the day.

Bucknell jumped out to a 1-0 lead over Brown when Almond scored on a wild pitch in the bottom of the first, but the Bears quickly evened the score when a double to left field in the top of the third drove in the second-base runner. The Bison responded immediately, tallying four runs in the bottom of the inning to gain an edge. Almond, who was walked at the top of the lineup, scored on an error by the catcher, while junior Kristen Zahn, who had two singles, two doubles, a triple and a home run on Friday, knocked another one out of the park to bring in two more tallies. Sophomore Mariah Midyette capped off the inning with a double down the left field line, driving in classmate Cheyanna Young and giving Bucknell a 5-1 lead.

The Bears chipped away at the edge however, scoring on an error in the top of the fourth and bringing in two more tallies with a two-run home run in the fifth, and the Bison headed into the sixth inning with just a 5-4 lead. A four-run stanza for Brown flipped the momentum however, putting the Bears up 8-5, and an insurance run in the top of the seventh presented a tough challenge for the Bison in the their final at-bat of the day.

Bucknell did not back down however, producing another four-run inning to knot the score 9-9. Junior Erin Coxscored first, reaching on Midyette’s at-bat, and senior Courtney Conover hit a single to right field to bring Midyette home. Superior base running and strong hitting put the tying run on base, and senior Mallory Lyons drove it in with a single to right center, sending the game to extra innings, where the Bears grabbed one run in the top of the eighth. The Bison executed a sacrifice bunt, sending a runner to third, but were unable to get her home, falling 10-9.

Freshman Lara Bean started in the circle against Brown, pitching 3.0 innings and allowing three hits and one earned run before sophomore Dana Nielsen took over in the top of the fourth. Nielsen also saw 3.0 innings of action against the Bears and allowed eight hits and seven earned runs. Sophomore Cindy Cherness, who was charged with the loss, handled the closing duties, allowing three hits and no earned runs in her 2.0 innings in the circle.

“The game against Brown was a challenging one,” reflected head coach Bonnie Skrenta. “I’ve really got to hand it to them, because their pitchers did an excellent job of getting them out of innings where we had runners in scoring position, which in turn halted our momentum. It was awesome to rally back for the tie, but they were able to execute the bunt in the top of the eighth and we fell just short.”

UNCW took the early, 1-0 lead in Bucknell’s second game of the day, scoring on a single to right center in the bottom of the first, but the Bison reigned the Seahawks in, keeping them scoreless through the next three innings. The home team capitalized on an error in the fifth to tack another run onto their total, and a sacrifice fly in the bottom of the sixth gave the Seahawks a 3-0 lead heading into the final stanza.

The Bison were left with the tall task of making another seventh-inning comeback, and they almost accomplished the feat. Freshman Chaylen Andolino capitalized on a fielding error to reach first, and sophomore Amanda Faziocame in for the pinch running duties. She advanced to second as Midyette reached first on a wild pitch, and sophomore Lauren Swindell knocked a double into left center. That was as close as the Bison were able to come however, and the Seahawks escaped with the 3-2 victory.

Nielsen pitched the complete game for Bucknell, allowing seven hits and two earned runs while walking two and striking out four.

“UNCW commanded almost the whole game,” said Skrenta, “but Dana had a really great pitching performance, combining with Cheyanna to get us out of a lot of tricky innings with no damage. Our young players found a way to generate some offense in the seventh, giving us a fighting chance, and I feel like there is a lot of promise in this team. We executed a lot of challenging defensive plays today and our attitude is extremely positive. We just need to learn how to win, as cliché as that sounds, and do a better job of being in every game from the start.”

The Bison will return to action tomorrow morning for their final contest in the UNCW Beach Bash, taking on the UNCG Spartans for a second time at 9:00 a.m. Live results for the game will be available.

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