Game One: Holy Cross 7, Bucknell 3
Game Two:
Bucknell 6, Holy Cross 3

The Bucknell softball team rallied back from a 7-3 defeat in the first game of Monday’s doubleheader to take a 6-3 win in the second contest of the day, giving the squad a 2-1 edge in the three-game series that began on Saturday morning. The Bison, who earned a 2-1 victory in the first game of the series, improved to 11-14 overall and 4-2 in the Patriot League with the split decision, giving them their best conference record through six games since the 2010 season. The Crusaders sit at 4-10 overall and 3-3 in league play after the weekend.

“The offense was really the story in the second game,” said head coach Bonnie Skrenta, “as it eased the pressure on our defense and allowed them to make the plays they are capable of. We made a lot of mistakes in that first game, and it was nice to see the players relax and remember that their fundamentals are sound and they just had to do their job to win the second game.”

Junior Cydnee Sanders led the Bison offense once again, hitting 4-for-7 over the course of the two games and scoring two runs, but she had plenty of help, as the team tallied seven hits in the first contest and 12 in the second. Junior Tori Robinson provided an offensive spark in both outings, hitting 3-for-4 with an RBI, while junior Kristen Zahn was 2-for-4 with two runs and two RBI in the second game of the day.

Bucknell took an early lead in the contest when sophomore Cheyanna Young recorded a two RBI-double in the bottom of the first, but Holy Cross responded almost immediately, collecting three runs in the top of the next stanza. The Bison knotted things up at 3-3 in the bottom of the fourth however, pulling even when junior Colie Escobar singled to shortstop, driving in Zahn, who had a one-base hit to second to start the inning.

The Crusaders pulled ahead for good in the top of the fifth, scoring on a single, and then tacked on three insurance runs in the bottom of the next inning, presenting a formidable challenge to the Bison. Bucknell, which was unable to record a run in the bottom of the sixth, made a valiant effort in their final at-bat but left two runners on base, giving Holy Cross the 7-3 win.

Sophomore Dana Nielsen received the loss for the Bison, dropping to 4-7 on the season. She pitched four innings, allowing four hits and four earned runs, walking four and striking out five before handing over the ball to classmateCindy Cherness. The sophomore gave up five hits and no earned runs in three innings of action, and also struck out two batters while walking none.

Steady offensive pressure was Bucknell’s secret to success in the second game of the day, as the Bison scored in the bottom of the first and never looked back, staying ahead of the Crusaders for the duration of the contest. Freshman Jacee Almond, who singled at the top of the order, scored on a Zahn single to right field, and the Bison tacked on another run in the bottom of the second. Sophomore Mariah Midyette opened the stanza with a double to left center, and Robinson drove her home with a double of her own, giving Bucknell a 2-0 advantage.

Freshman pitcher Lara Bean kept the Crusaders scoreless in the top of the third, and the runs kept coming for the Bison in the bottom of the inning. Holy Cross retired its starting pitcher after back-to-back singles from seniorMallory Lyons and Sanders, and then Lyons scored on an error by the catcher. Zahn, who reached on a fielder’s choice, scored later in the inning, also on an error by the catcher.

Holy Cross didn’t go away quietly, scoring once in the fourth and once in the fifth, but Bucknell responded with two crucial insurance runs in the bottom of the fifth. Sanders led off with a double to left field and scored when Zahn followed that up with a two-base hit of her own. Zahn, who advanced to third on the throw, scored her second run of the day on the next play, giving Bucknell a 6-2 lead over Holy Cross.

The Crusaders managed to tack on one more run, scoring in the top of the sixth, but the Bison silenced them in the seventh, ending the day with a 6-3 win and their second series sweep of a conference foe.

Bean earned her fifth win of the season against Holy Cross, allowing one hit and one earned run while walking five and striking out one in 4.1 innings of action. Cherness pitched her third save of the year in 2.2 innings of relief, allowing four hits and no earned runs, striking out three and walking one.  

“Lara did a really nice job in the second game,” added Skrenta, “but it felt right to put Cindy in, and she did an excellent job of keeping their batters off balance. They really worked well as a team to get that win.”

Bucknell returns to Becker Field on Tuesday afternoon for its second consecutive doubleheader, and will welcome La Salle to Lewisburg for a 3 p.m. non-conference tilt. Live stats for the contest will be available, and audio coverage will be broadcast on WVBU 90.5 and with Danny Will on the call.