April 21, 2013
WEST POINT, N.Y. - Bucknell softball recovered from a difficult 1-0 loss in 11 innings to shut out Army 4-0 in the series finale at West Point, N.Y., on Sunday afternoon. Colie Escobar hit 3-for-3 with a team-best fourth home run of the season and Cassie Greenhawk scored twice in the win as the Bison improved to 15-28 overall and 7-9 in the Patriot League with one conference series remaining.
Bucknell's offense struggled to produce in the day's opener. Army (24-20, 8-8 PL) totaled 13 hits compared to just two for the Bison, but it wasn't until the 11th inning that the Black Knights' offense paid off. Army took the first game 1-0 after Alex Gaff scored the game winner with an unearned run with one out.
The Bison did not allow the late letdown keep them from success in the second game of the day. Dana Nielsen and Cindy Cherness combined for the team's eighth shutout of the season, limiting Army to five total hits. Nielsen (6-12) claimed the win after allowing all five of those hits and striking out three. Neither she nor Cherness gave up a walk.
Offensively Escobar and Kristen Zahn both finished the game with three hits. Escobar sandwiched her home run in the fourth inning with a pair of singles. Zahn went 3-for-4 with a triple and two RBI.
Zahn's first run batted in scored Greenhawk, giving Bucknell a 1-0 lead in the top of the first. Greenhawk had reached on a walk, the only one given up by Army starter Braetana Roy in 3.0 innings before her day came to an end.
Bucknell tagged on two more runs in the third inning. Again it was Greenhawk, who made it 2-0. The senior bunted for a single to give the Bison their first base runner and Cydnee Sanders followed with a bunt single of her own. Both scored thanks to Zahn's triple to right field. It was Zahn's first three-base hit of the season.
Escobar scored the final run of the day with her homer to center field in the top of the fourth. That brought Morgan Lashley in to pitch for the Black Knights. Roy took the loss after allowing all four runs on six hits. Lashley then pitched 4.0 shutout innings, giving up three more hits, striking out three and walking two.
Nielsen enjoyed the breathing room provided her by her offense. The freshman faced runners in scoring position just three times during the game, although none advanced to third base. Army's biggest threat came in the seventh as Bernadette Cardon reached on an outfield single and advanced to second on a fielder's choice. With two Black Knights on the base paths, Cherness replaced Nielsen to get the final two outs. Cherness needed to face just one batter, getting Gaff to hit into a double play to end the inning.
The defensive play to end the game was much more satisfying for Bucknell in game two than it had been in the opener. The Bison held the Black Knights at bay for 10 innings. Gaff led off the 11th inning by reaching on an error. She scored two batters later as Christian McKone tripled to left center field and Army won its third straight in the series.
Cherness (1-3) took the loss with the one run on six hits in 2.2 innings of work. She relieved Amanda Fazio who went 7.2 solid innings. Fazio gave up seven hits and struck out seven. Three of those punchouts came in the second as she got Marina Northup, April Ortenzo and Paige Vallejos to all strike out swinging.
That was the first of three innings in which Fazio would retire the side in order. The others were in the sixth and seventh innings as she got five groundouts and another strikeout. Four of those groundouts were balls hit back to the pitchers' circle.
Lashley (19-10) collected her 19th win of the season. The pitcher gave up two hits in the complete-game shutout. She also struck out 11 and walked three.
Bucknell's final Patriot League series of the season is set for next weekend at Holy Cross. The Bison are tied with the Crusaders for fourth in the conference standings. Lehigh clinched a berth in the Patriot League Tournament on Sunday with its 13-3 record. Colgate (9-7) and Army are second and third, respectively. The top four teams earn a postseason berth.
Bucknell's next test will be against Saint Francis (Pa.) on Wednesday. The Bison will host the Red Flash in a 3 p.m. doubleheader, the last of the season at Becker Field. Bucknell and Saint Francis split a twinbill played on Tuesday, winning 4-3 and falling 5-4 in Loretto.