LEWISBURG, Pa. – The Bucknell softball team will keep itself very busy over spring break, as the squad will head down to Florida to compete in the Rebel Games. The Bison, who hold a 2-7 record after two early season tournaments, will begin play on Sunday, March 9 with a pair of contests, and will compete twice a day through Friday, March 14, taking just Wednesday off, for a total of ten games in six days.
Bucknell has competed in the Rebel Spring Games in seven of the last 10 seasons, but did not make the trip last year, playing a string of games in Texas and Louisiana over spring break instead. The Bison will face seven different opponents over the course of the tournament, playing three teams twice. Six of the team’s games will be played at the DiamondPlex in Winter Haven, Fla., while the remaining four will be contested at the Auburndale Softball Complex in Auburndale, Fla.
The Bison resumed play last week after weather forced a lengthy break between their first two tournaments, and compiled a 1-4 record at the UNCW Beach Bash. Bucknell opened up the competition with a commanding, 12-3 win over Brown, led by junior Kristen Zahn, who hit 3-for-4 with two runs and three RBI. The junior, who finished the weekend with a team-high 1.000 slugging percentage, as well as a .438 batting average and a .526 on-base percentage, earned Patriot League Player of the Week honors on Monday, becoming the first Bison to receive the honor in almost four years.
Five of the team’s seven losses have been decided by just one run, as the Bison have battled back on several occasions, and the squad has generated a considerable amount of offense in the early weeks of the season Bucknell is currently ranked second in the Patriot League with a .262 team batting average, and the team also ranks second in runs (46) and RBI (38). Impressively, the Bison lead the conference with their .426 slugging percentage, including seven home runs, five more than any other school in the league.
Individually, junior Cydnee Sanders leads the Patriot League with a .500 batting average, recording 15 hits in her 30 at-bats, while freshman Jacee Almond, who was named Patriot League Rookie of the Week for her performance in the Cleveland State Dome Tournament, has produced the sixth-highest number, compiling a .385 batting average. The top two spots in slugging percentage belong to Bison, as Zahn’s .897 mark tops the Patriot League and Almond ranks second with a .769 average, and Bucknell hitters are also ranked first in five additional categories. Almond leads the conference in runs scored (9), senior Mallory Lyons has the most sacrifice bunts (4) and Zahn has the best numbers in RBI (12), home runs (4) and total bases (26).
The Bison’s opponents have placed a lot of pressure on the team’s young pitching staff, and all four members have risen to the challenge. Sophomore Amanda Fazio leads the group with a 1.91 ERA, allowing 12 hits and three earned runs in 11 innings pitched while striking out nine and walking one, while sophomore Dana Nielsen has seen the most action, making four starts in eight appearances and holding a 1-2 record with a 5.58 ERA. Freshman Lara Bean has been a welcome addition, earning a 1-2 record with a 2.62 ERA in 18.2 innings in the circle, while sophomore Cindy Cherness has provided crucial relief.
The competition at the Rebel Spring Games in tough, and the Bison have yet to produce a winning record at the competition, but the team is well prepared to change that this time out. Bucknell’s best record in the past ten years is a 4-5 mark in the 2005 campaign.
Recaps and results from all ten of Bucknell’s games will be available on BucknellBison.com.
BUCKNELL’S REBEL GAMES SCHEDULE
Sunday, March 9
- Akron (5-2), 10 a.m.
- Manhattan (0-4),12 p.m.
Monday, March 10
- Howard (0-0), 9 a.m.
- Creighton (4-9), 1 p.m.
Tuesday, March 11
- Indiana State (9-5), 9 a.m.
- South Dakota (8-5), 1 p.m.
Thursday, March 13
- Siena (1-3), 3:30 p.m.
- South Dakota (8-5), 5:30 p.m.
Friday, March 14
- St. Peter’s (1-3), 9 a.m.
- Siena (1-3), 11 a.m.