Boston University 10, Bucknell 5
BETHLEHEM, Pa. – After putting forth a truly impressive showing on Friday to earn its way into the Patriot League Tournament championship game on Saturday afternoon, the Bucknell softball team took the lead on three different occasions and seemed poised to force a second contest to decide the title, but a late surge gave Boston University a 10-5 win, ending Bucknell’s season. The Bison finished the 2014 campaign with a 23-26 record, increasing last year’s win total by two, while the Terriers improved to 35-19 and will advance to the NCAA Tournament.
“I am really proud of this team,” said head coach Bonnie Skrenta. “They fought until the very last pitch and had some really incredible performances over the course of the tournament. Boston University is an incredibly strong opponent, and they just snuck by us in the end.”
Both teams recorded 11 hits in the contest, and the Bison were led by sophomore Mariah Midyette, who was 3-for-3 on the day. Junior Kristen Zahn was 2-for-4 with an RBI, while freshman Jacee Almond was 1-for-3 with a run and three RBI.
Bucknell took an early lead in the bottom of the first, putting Boston University on its toes from the very beginning of the contest. Junior Cydnee Sanders got on base with a two-out single to left field and then stole second, putting her in scoring position with Zahn at the plate. The junior singled through the right side, bringing Sanders home and giving the Bison the 1-0 edge.
The Terriers responded with an RBI-double down the right field line in the top of the second, knotting the score at one, but the hits kept coming for the Bison, allowing them to pull ahead again in the bottom of the same stanza. Bucknell had the bases loaded for two consecutive at-bats before a sacrifice fly by Almond brought in sophomore Cheyanna Young, giving the squad a 2-1 lead.
Boston University earned its first advantage of the day with a three-run home run to center field in the third, but a powerful fourth inning by Bucknell flipped the score in its favor once more. Sophomore Amanda Fazio started things off, reaching on a bunt before Almond sent a blast into left field, recording her seventh home run of the season and second of the tournament and knotting the score at 4-4. Senior Mallory Lyons followed that up with a double to left field, and the Bison regained the lead when senior Caryn Connors, who came in to run for Lyons, scored on a throwing error.
Bucknell’s edge stood through the fifth inning, but Boston University played its way into a one-run lead in the top of the sixth, scoring on an error and a single up the middle. The Terriers made quick work of the Bison in the bottom of the sixth and then turned around to produce a four-run seventh inning, putting themselves on top 10-5. Midyette recorded a hit in the bottom of the stanza and Bucknell advanced a runner to second, fighting for every opportunity, but it wasn’t enough to overcome Boston University.
All three of Bucknell’s sophomore pitchers spent time in the circle during the contest, with Fazio pitching 4.1 innings as the starter and allowing four hits and three earned runs while walking three and striking out two. Dana Nielsen received the loss, giving up the go-ahead run in her 2.0 innings of action, and Cindy Cherness closed out the contest, allowing three hits and two earned runs.
At the end of the competition it was announced that Sanders, Almond and Fazio all earned spots on this year’s Patriot League All-Tournament team. Sanders hit .692 over the course of four games, recording nine hits in 13 at-bats and tallying three RBI and a run, while Almond was 6-for-14 with two triples and two home runs. The rookie scored three times and batted in six runs. Fazio saw action in the pitching circle in all four contests, compiling a 3.17 ERA and recording 10 strikeouts, but was also strong at the plate, hitting .364 and scoring three times.