Game One: La Salle 1, Bucknell 0 (8 innings)
Game Two: Bucknell 10, La Salle 2 (6 innings)
LEWISBURG, Pa. – A two-run walk off home run by junior Kristen Zahn capped off another successful day for the Bucknell softball team, as the squad split a non-conference doubleheader with visiting La Salle on Becker Field. The Bison and Explorers battled through seven scoreless stanzas in the day’s first game before the visitors scored once in the top of the eighth to take a 1-0 win, but Bucknell controlled the second contest from start to finish, taking a 10-2 victory in six innings. The Bison, who are 4-2 in Patriot League play, are now 12-15 overall, while the Explorers sit at 11-10 after the day’s action.
“We struggled to hit in the first game of the day,” commented head coach Bonnie Skrenta, “but I’m proud of the team for coming back and really turning that around to win the second game. It was nice to see the team really come together and persevere through a mid-week doubleheader, and it was great prep for us as we get ready for our games at Lafayette this weekend”
Junior Cydnee Sanders spearheaded the team’s offensive efforts, hitting 5-for-7 across both games, including a 4-for-4 effort with three runs and an RBI in day’s second contest. Zahn was 3-for-4 with three runs and two RBI in Bucknell’s win, while sophomore Cheyanna Young hit 2-for-2 with two runs and an RBI in that game.
The Bison recorded the first hit of the day in the fourth inning of the opening contest when Sanders doubled to left center. The junior advanced to third but was left on base by a ground out, keeping the game scoreless as the squads headed into the fifth inning.
Freshman pitcher Lara Bean preserved her no-hitter through the fifth, keeping the La Salle hitters completely off balance, but a single and a walk in the top of the sixth put runners on first and second. Sophomore Cindy Cherness relieved Bean, walking her first batter to load the bases, but a well-timed strikeout and solid defensive play got the Bison out of the inning unscathed.
The game remained scoreless through regulation, and Bucknell put the first two batters away in the top of the eighth, but the Explorers reached on an error, putting a runner in scoring position, and a double to left field brought her home, putting the first run of the contest on the board. Freshman Jacee Almond singled to center field in the bottom of the inning, keeping hope alive, but a double play ended the game, giving La Salle a hard-fought, 1-0 win.
Bean received the loss in the contest, pitching five innings during which she allowed just one hit and no earned runs while walking four and striking out the same. Cherness saw three innings of action in relief, giving up a hit and striking out three.
Offense was the story in the day’s second game, as the Bison recorded a season-high 14 hits, and the squad worked its way onto the board early when Young, who reached on a double to right field, scored on a single by freshman Christina Martinez, giving Bucknell a 1-0 lead after two innings. The squad extended that edge with a three-run third stanza, as a single by Young scored Sanders, and another one-base hit by junior Tori Robinson drove in two more runs.
The Explorers pushed back, scoring on a single in the fourth inning and a triple in the fifth stanza, but another three-run outing for the Bison lifted the game out of reach. Sophomore Mariah Midyette doubled to left center, driving in Sanders and Zahn, who had both singled earlier in the stanza, and then scored herself, giving Bucknell a 7-2 lead over the visitors.
Sophomore pitcher Dana Nielsen didn’t allow a hit in the top of the sixth, and the Bucknell offense secured the win with another impressive performance in the bottom of the inning, recording three hits, including Zahn’s two-run walk off home run to center field to give the Bison a 10-2 win.
Bean had another strong outing as the starting pitcher in the day’s second game, allowing just two hits and one earned run in 3.2 innings of action, but Nielsen earned the win, improving to 5-7 on the season. The sophomore pitched 2.1 innings, allowing two hits and one earned run while walking one and striking out four.
“Lara really had a great day for us,” added Skrenta. “She pitched almost nine innings and allowed only three hits, putting us in the position to win today.”
Bucknell will hit the road at the end of the week for another Patriot League weekend, making the short trip to Lafayette for a three-game series. The Bison and the Leopards will play a doubleheader at 1 p.m. on Saturday and a single game at 12 p.m. on Sunday.