Postseason on the Line as Bucknell Softball Travels to Lafayette
April 27, 2012
LEWISBURG, Pa. - It's a now-or-never series for Bucknell softball when the Bison travel to Lafayette in the final Patriot League regular-season matchup this weekend. Bucknell (9-32, 3-13 PL) must win three of four games against the Leopards (11-34, 5-11 PL) to advance to the postseason. Play in Easton, Pa., begins Saturday at 1 p.m. and continues at 12:30 p.m. on Sunday. Live stats on GameTracker will be available for all four contests.
In order to advance to the Patriot League Tournament May 10-12, Bucknell must win the series against Lafayette. The best the Bison can do is the No. 4 seed as Lehigh, Army and Colgate have already clinched the top three positions. Should Lafayette win this weekend's series, it will secure the No. 4 seed. Holy Cross is still in the hunt mathematically as well, but the Crusaders must win all four games against Colgate and have Bucknell lose at least one game this weekend.
Bucknell gave itself a big boost in the quest to extend its season by taking three of four games from Holy Cross last weekend. The Bison collected their first conference win of the season in a nine-inning victory against the Crusaders. Spurring them to the final score was a game-winning RBI from Laura Sandford (New Egypt, N.J./New Egypt), who ultimately hit .533 (8-for-15) in the series and was eventually awarded Susquehanna Valley Limousine Bison Athlete of the Week honors for her performance.
Sandford was not the only Bison to hit better than .400 against Holy Cross. Colie Escobar (Cherry Hill, N.J./Cherry Hill East) was 4-for-6 (.667) at the plate. That included a 3-for-3 outing with the game-tying run that pushed game four to extra innings and finally a win. It was the freshman's first career multi-hit contest. Mary Horton (Plantation, Fla./St. Thomas Aquinas) and Meredith Dickson (Fogelsville, Pa./Northwestern Lehigh) hit .429 (4-for-16) and .400 (6-for-15), respectively against the Crusaders. Horton now leads the team in hitting (.314), runs scored (14) and walks (13) this season.
In the pitching circle, Bridget Gates (Milford, Conn./Academy of Our Lady of Mercy Lauralton Hall) left the field with a 2-0 record, one save and a 0.00 ERA after the series with Holy Cross. The junior's performance helped give Bucknell its first set of consecutive wins since defeating Howard and Columbia back-to-back on March 13 at the Rebel Spring Games. Just as she did last weekend, Gates also had a win and a save in the games against Howard and Columbia. Gates is now one of just four players in program history to record more than one save in a single season joining Julie Williams with three in 2005 and Molly Bell and Stacey Waite with two apiece in 1996.
Bucknell and Lafayette have both struggled in Patriot League competition this year. The Leopards' only series win came against Holy Cross, but they also took two games off Colgate the following weekend. Lehigh and Army both swept Lafayette, and the Black Knights claimed the most eye-opening decisions just a week ago. Army shutout Lafayette in all four games and outscored the Leopards by a combined 8-0.
Lafayette is hitting .237 as a team, while its opponents are .290 at the plate for the season. Gwen Turner is the only Leopard over .300 individually, coming into the weekend at .352 (50-for-142). In the pitchers' circle, Lafayette has a team ERA of 3.67 with opponents at 1.94. With a 10-19 record this spring, Melissa Robinson has nearly all of her team's 11 wins. The sophomore, who is also Lafayette's only returning all-league player from a year ago, also has a 2.61 ERA, 81 strikeouts and 43 walks allowed.
Bucknell has a comfortable lead in the series with Lafayette, although the Leopards had the last word in 2011. The Bison took just one game in the series, a 1-0 win in game two in which Gates pitched a six-hit shutout and recent graduate Jessie Snyder was 3-for-3 with the lone RBI at the plate.
Despite the disappointment of last spring's meeting, 2010 was the exact opposite. The Bison won three games the last time they played at Metzgar Fields, although the team's big hitters from that series - Sherry Finkel was 4-for-7 with five RBI on day one and Synder was responsible for the game-winning two-RBI single in game four - have since graduated.
Should Bucknell advance to the Patriot League Tournament, play will begin May 10 at the site of the No. 1 seed. The top seed is still up for grabs, but it will be either Army or Lehigh. The Mountain Hawks (15-1 PL) and Black Knights (13-3 PL) square off this weekend at West Point. Army must win the series to clinch the No. 1 spot.