Bucknell Softball Returns to Action at Marshall Invitational
March 2, 2012
LEWISBURG, Pa. - After a strong opening weekend in which it went 2-1, Bucknell softball returns to action March 3-4 at the Marshall Tournament at the Dot Hicks Softball Complex in Huntington, W. Va. The Bison will kick things off with a doubleheader against Indiana-Purdue Fort Wayne and Marshall on Saturday, followed by meetings with Kent State and a rematch with the Herd on Sunday. A live audio broadcast and live stats for all the tournament's games will be available at herdzone.com.
The Bison have a limited history against this weekend's opponents. While Bucknell is 2-0 all-time against IPFW and 0-1 opposite Marshall, it has never faced Kent State. The Bison and the Mastadons have only met at the Rebel Spring Games in Kissimmee, Fla., and Bucknell shut out IPFW on both occasions. After going scoreless through the first five innings in their 2009 matchup, Bucknell scored the winning run on a throwing error. The Bison went on to win 2-0. In 2002, the Bison scored three times in the fourth and the winning run came home on a wild pitch. Bucknell was the 4-0 victor in that one.
IPFW has started its season 6-2 and heads to Marshall with a four-game winning streak. During that stretch at the Chanticleer Challenge, the Mastadons claimed wins over Sacred Heart (4-1 and 10-5), Coastal Carolina (1-0) and Temple (4-0). IPFW has posted a team ERA of 1.15 through its first eight games. While it is hitting a modest .235 at the plate, the Indiana squad is limiting opponents to a .186 batting average.
Bucknell's only meeting with Marshall came at Coastal Carolina during the 1997 spring break trip. The Bison fell 8-2. Bucknell committed eight errors and all eight of the Herd's runs were unearned.
Marshall is 7-7 in the early goings of the 2012 campaign. The Herd has lost four of its last five with the lone win during that stretch coming in a shortened 8-0 decision to St. John's. The losses came at the hands of Maryland (10-2, 6 inn. and 2-1), Southern Illinois (10-2, 6 inn.) and Florida State (4-1). Marshall is 47-for-55 in stolen bases already. A 3.4 stolen bases per game average should not be too big of a surprise, however. The Herd led the nation with 2.53 per game last season.
Kent State enters the weekend 4-6 this season. A majority of those wins came at last weekend's N.C. State Wolfpack Challenge. The Golden Flashes defeated Lehigh (9-2), North Carolina State (15-8) and Georgetown (8-0, 5 inn.). As a unit, Kent State is hitting .233 and has a team ERA of 3.56.
Bucknell started off on the right foot two weeks ago when it opened its season at Elon's Phoenix Softball Clash. The Bison went 2-1 with wins against the Phoenix and James Madison. Alex MacLean (Northampton, Pa./Northampton Area) shut out Elon in the 2-0 victory in the first of three games on Feb. 18. MacLean, who after two appearances this season now ranks in the program's top 10 in career games played (61), starts (49), innings pitched (306.0), was named the Patriot League Pitcher of the Week for her performance. The junior also improved her standing in the Bucknell record books in career wins (8th, 22), strikeouts (5th, 215) and shutouts (5th, 6).
Joining MacLean with success in the pitchers' circle was Courtney Conover (Ocean Township, N.J./Ocean Township), who earned her first career decision. The sophomore took the win against James Madison, pitching 2.2 scoreless innings of relief and allowing two hits.
Offensively, Mary Horton (Plantation, Fla./St. Thomas Aquinas) gave the Bison a boost by hitting .364 (4-11) with two doubles, two RBI and one run scored. The junior infielder was the only Bucknell player to earn a hit in all three games at the tournament. Mallory Lyons (Coatesville, Pa./Coatesville Area) connected for her first career home run and it turned out to be a big one. The sophomore hit the game-winning grand slam in the top of the seventh inning to give Bucknell a 7-5 victory over James Madison. She finished the weekend .375 (3-8) at the plate, adding a double and two runs scored.
Bucknell will undoubtedly continue to look for contributions from its newcomers. Kristen Zahn (Readington, N.J./Hunterdon Central Regional) hit .375 with two runs and an RBI in her first collegiate weekend. The freshman made three starts - one in left field, one in center field and one at catcher. Fellow freshman Cydnee Sanders (Magnolia, Texas/Magnolia West) led the team with three runs scored while hitting .222 (2-9).
Following the four-game set at Marshall, Bucknell will head to Kissimmee, Fla., for 10 games at the Rebel Spring Games. Action is set for March 10-16.