WINTER HAVEN, Fla. – The Bucknell softball team’s defense and pitching staff were truly tested against two strong opponents on Tuesday and, in spite of a solid effort, the squad dropped a pair of decisions on the third day of the Rebel Spring Games in Winter Haven, Fla. Action at the DiamondPlex began with a low-scoring, 2-0 loss to Indiana State, and concluded in the afternoon with a 6-0 defeat by South Dakota, dropping the Bison’s overall record to 4-11.
The Bison recorded two hits in the first inning against the Sycamores, with both senior Mallory Lyons and junior Kristen Zahn activating the offense early. Junior Cydnee Sanders, who reached on a fielder’s choice, advanced all the way to third, but Indiana State was able to close out the inning with the score knotted at zero.
The game remained scoreless through the middle of the second, but a two-run bottom of the stanza for the Sycamores gave them a lead that they would maintain for the rest of the contest. Sophomore Dana Nielsen struck out the first two batters, but two consecutive singles and some crafty base running brought in the first run of the day. A third single up the middle drove in the second tally, and while Nielsen ended the inning with another strikeout, Bucknell found itself trailing, 2-0.
Each side made three quick outs in the third, and while both teams attempted to create opportunities down the stretch, the strength of the defensive play and the pitching staffs made capitalizing on them a tough task.
In addition to Lyons and Zahn, junior Erin Cox and freshman Jacee Almond also recorded hits against the Sycamores, and Nielsen pitched her fourth complete game of the season, allowing six hits and two earned runs, while striking out eight and walking none.
South Dakota proved itself to be another formidable foe in the second contest of the day, challenging Bucknell both offensively and defensively. The Coyotes worked their way onto the board early in the contest, scoring once on a double to right field, but the Bison were able to silence them through the bottom of the third inning.
The top of the fourth was a different story however, as South Dakota exploded for five runs, working its way through the entire batting order. A single to right center drove in the first run, and the Coyotes grabbed two more tallies on another one-base hit. Two more runs capped off the stanza, giving the squad a 6-0 lead over the Bison.
Sanders singled in the sixth and the Bucknell defense kept South Dakota scoreless for the remainder of the contest, but the Bison were unable to create scoring opportunities for themselves, falling 6-0 to the Coyotes.
Bucknell was out-hit 8-3 in the contest, with Sanders, senior Courtney Conover and sophomore Lauren Swindell each registering one. Fazio pitched three innings, allowing two hits and one earned run, while freshman Lara Beanand sophomore Cindy Cherness each made an appearance in relief. Bean allowed four hits and five earned runs in 1.1 innings of action, while Cherness closed out the contest with two hits allowed and two strikeouts.
Bucknell, which has played to a 2-4 record through the first three days of the Rebel Spring Games, will take Wednesday off before returning to the field for two contests on Thursday. The Bison will take on Siena at 3:30 p.m. and South Dakota at 5:30 p.m., and both games will be played at the Auburndale Sports Complex.