AUBURNDALE, Fla. – Monday morning brought day two of the Rebel Spring Games for the Bucknell softball team, and once again, the Bison split a pair of decisions at the Auburndale Softball Complex, shutting out Howard to take a 7-0 win in the early morning game before dropping a 5-3 decision to Creighton in their afternoon outing. Sophomore Dana Nielsen turned in the pitching performance of the day, allowing just one hit in seven innings of action against Howard, while junior Cydnee Sanders, who has tallied at least one hit in all 13 games this season and is hitting .488, led a prolific offense, going 4-for-7 over the course of the two games with a run and two RBI. Bucknell has improved to a 4-9 overall record after two days of competition in Florida and holds a 2-2 mark in spring break play.
The Bucknell defense made quick work of Howard in the first and second inning, leaving room for the offense to push the squad out to a 4-0 lead with a flurry of scoring in the bottom of the second. With two outs, sophomoreCheyanna Young reached on an error by first base, and senior Courtney Conover followed that up with a double that advanced Young to third. Freshman Jacee Almond brought them both home with a single, and senior Mallory Lyons and Sanders each earned an RBI with strong hits before Howard could end the inning.
Nielsen struck out the side in the third and the Bison made it safely out of a one-hit fourth before building their lead with an additional run in the bottom of the stanza. Sanders drove in that tally as well, knocking a single into the field that brought freshman Carolyn Wan, who was pinch running for Conover, into home.
After Nielsen struck out three straight in the top of the fifth, Bucknell capped its scoring off in the bottom of the stanza, grabbing two more runs on a Young single and the strength of its base running. The Bison defense and pitching staff clinched the win in the sixth and seventh, getting three quick outs in each inning to give the team a 7-0 victory.
Nielsen, who pitched her third complete game of the season, allowed just one hit while striking out 10 batters and walking one, improving her record to 2-3 with the victory. As a team, the Bison offense stole seven bases, with five different players completing at least one attempt.
Creighton got out to an early lead in the second game of the day, tallying all of its runs in the first three innings of the contest to take a 5-0 advantage over Bucknell as the teams headed into the fourth. The Bison proved once again that they can rally back from anything however, and slowly began to chip away at the Bluejays’ edge with a run in the bottom of the fourth. Junior Kristen Zahn, who singled to lead off the inning, scored on an error by Creighton’s short stop, narrowing the score to 5-1.
Freshman Lara Bean, who came in to pitch in the top of the third, controlled the Bluejays’ offense nicely, and a two-run fifth inning brought the Bison even closer. A single from Sanders advanced Lyons, who had walked, to second, and then another strong hit from Zahn, who went 3-for-3 with a run and two RBI against Creighton, drove them both home, bringing Bucknell within two.
Bean and Nielsen combined to allow just two hits between the sixth and the seventh, keeping their squad within striking distance, and the Bison loaded the bases in the bottom of the final stanza, but the team couldn’t capitalize on that last opportunity, dropping a 5-3 decision to the Bluejays.
Sophomore Amanda Fazio received the loss as the starting pitcher, dropping her overall mark to 0-3, allowing four hits and three earned runs in two innings of action. Bean allowed three hits and two earned runs while striking out three in 2.1 innings pitched, while Nielsen closed out the contest, allowing just one hit in the final 1.2 innings.
Bucknell will return to action for two more contests on Tuesday, beginning the day with a 9 a.m. game against Indiana State and concluding it with a 1 p.m. match-up with South Dakota.