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2014 Binghamton Softball Preview
Bearcats return four all-conference players, seven starters from last year's squad
February 7, 2014Tweet
Contact: David O’Brian (email@example.com)
The 2013 season was a year of dramatic change for the Binghamton softball program. The team moved into its new home, the Bearcats Sports Complex Softball Facility and proceeded to go 30-17, their highest win total since 1995.
Behind an offensive attack that averaged more than five runs per game, the Bearcats were the runner up in the America East during the regular season. They got to host the conference tournament and played before significant home crowds during the latter part of the year.
With the bulk of last season’s squad back, including four first-team all-conference selections and seven starting position players, Binghamton hopes to improve upon that success.
“I think we learned a lot last year and are looking to build off that success,” head coach Michelle Burrell said. “Our approach this year will be to play every game like it’s our last, whether it’s in-season tournaments, conference games or non-conference games. Win or lose, we want to know that we left our best effort out on the field that day.”
Without question, the strength of the Bearcats heading into the season is their infield. All five starting position players return from last year’s group. Two of them were first-team all-conference in 2013.
Senior second baseman Jessica Bump is a three-year starter but 2013 was a breakthrough season for her. She ranked fifth in the America East in batting (.349), second with 10 home runs and fourth with 36 RBI. In addition, Bump also led the conference with 46 runs, five triples, a .476 on-base percentage as well as a .671 slugging percentage. At the conclusion of the season, she was named first-team all-conference, first-team All-ECAC and was the America East Softball Scholar-Athlete of the Year.
At first base, sophomore Lisa Cadogan was named first-team all-conference and was a second-team NFCA All-Region selection in 2013. She was also named the America East Rookie of the year. Cadogan led the conference with 38 RBI, ranked sixth with a .333 batting average and was fourth with eight home runs.
Junior shortstop Caytlin Friis and senior third baseman Mikala King are both two-year starters. Last season, they combined for eight home runs and 40 RBI. Sophomore catcher Taylor Chaffee, meanwhile, was named to the America East All-Rookie Team after belting nine home runs and driving in 34 runs.
This year’s top newcomer in the infield is freshman Crysti Eichner, who hails from Pine Bush N.Y. She is slated to see playing time at third base.
“Our infield will be the most experienced part of our defense,” Burrell said. (Jessica) Bump and (Caytlin) Friis have been working together up the middle for two years now and they are very comfortable with each other. We expect to turn more double plays than we ever have. Lisa Cadogan will return at first base and with a year of collegiate experience under her belt. We anticipate good things from her. Taylor Chaffee was a constant last year behind the plate. She has great instincts back there and her arm has helped us tremendously. Mikala King and Crysti Eichner will likely split time at third base during the early season tournaments.
Sophomore Sydney Harbaugh earned first-team all-conference honors in 2013. She ranked eighth in the America East in batting (.319) and stole a program-record 28 bases. Binghamton’s other returning outfielder is senior Colleen Dougherty, who ranked third on the team with 12 stolen bases last year.
Senior Lisa Cutrona, who started her first two seasons in the infield, and sophomore Griffin McIver, who could also serve as the designated player, are the two other veterans competing for time in the outfield.
“Our outfielders were covering a lot of ground towards the end of our fall season,” Burrell said. “We have moved Sydney over to center field this year and she gives us both speed and a good arm from the middle spot. Bridget will most likely take over for Sydney in right field and we have several players working for a spot in left field.”
Binghamton lost a pair of pitchers to graduation but returns first-team all-conference selection Demi Laney. She was 15-8 last season with a 2.52 ERA and a program-record 171 strikeouts. The Bearcats’ other returning pitcher is sophomore Stephanie Arneson.
“We have a large pitching staff this year with two freshmen, a sophomore and senior Demi Laney,” Burrell said. “Obviously, Demi has the most experience and innings out of the group and we will look to her for leadership both in the circle and in the dugout assisting the rest of the staff.”
Once again, the Bearcats have scheduled a challenging in-season tournament schedule, with trips to South Florida (Feb. 14-16) and UNLV (Feb. 28-March 2) to start the year. Other in-season tournaments will be at George Washington (March 8-9) and George Mason (March 14-16).
The hope is for the season to progress like it did in 2013. Although the Bearcats started off 2-7, they faced three nationally-ranked teams during that stretch. From that point on, Binghamton won 28 of its next 36 games.
“We want to play the best competition that we can during our in-season tournaments,” Burrell said. “The teams we are facing early on this season will most likely be teams in the (NCAA Tournament) regional field. We want to be prepared to compete with that kind of opposition.”
Also on the schedule, in terms of non-conference opponents, are St. Bonaventure (April 1), Syracuse (April 9), Fordham (April 13), St. John’s (April 15), Niagara (April 17), Colgate (April 23) and Cornell (April 29).
AMERICA EAST CONFERENCE
Binghamton opens up conference play at America East newcomer UMass Lowell (March 22-23) before heading up to meet defending regular-season champion Albany the following weekend. The Bearcats’ other road conference series is at Maine (April 26-27).
At home, the Bearcats face UMBC (April 5-6), Hartford (April 19-20) and defending America East champion Stony Brook (May 2-3).
“I’m looking forward to the addition of UMass-Lowell,” Burrell said. “They have a very good softball program and coach and I’m sure they will compete well in the America East. Stony Brook had a great run at the championship tournament last year and we are looking forward to another competitive conference season.”
BEARCATS SPORTS COMPLEX SOFTBALL FACILITY
Regardless of the opposition, the Bearcats eagerly anticipate their home opener April 1. With the rave reviews of the Bearcats Sports Complex Softball Facility in 2013, the team expects to create even more memories there this year.
“It has made a big impact,” Burrell said. “During the last few series of the year, it was a great feeling looking up in the stands and not seeing an empty seat. We have a supportive softball community and I’m very thankful they can now come support our team at a top-notch facility.”