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Accuracy • Independence • Integrity

August 19, 2017   |   Ithaca, NY

ColumnsBend it like Beck

Bend it like Beck: Softball heats up heading to playoffs

Over the past 15 years, the phrases Ithaca College softball and Empire 8 champions have frequently become synonymous. Year in and year out, the Bombers consistently dominated the conference.

In 2002, they won their first national championship in the college’s history, going 37–13 and defeating Lake Forest College in the title game 1–0.

Since then, the team has been crowned Empire 8 champions eight times in 12 years, and only twice — in 2013 and in 2015 — did it not finish in first place during the regular season.

But this time around, the South Hill squad entered the 2016 season not defending its Empire 8 title for the second time in three years, the first time it hasn’t won a title a year after it lost since it began Empire 8 play in 2001.

As of April 25, the Bombers currently hold a 27–7 record, their best start to a regular season since 2006 when they went 40–7 and lost in the College World Series. The 23rd-ranked Blue and Gold clinched first place to earn home-field advantage throughout the Empire 8 playoffs, which start May 6.

They are first in the Northeast region, topping teams such as SUNY Cortland and Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute. However, their biggest challenge is overcoming St. John Fisher College. The Cardinals rank first in almost every category in the conference, leading in average, hits, earned run average, shutouts, strikeouts and innings pitched.

The Bombers are led by senior first baseman Casey Gavin, who is putting together a career-best season, hitting .407 with 27 runs scored, knocking in 20 runs batted in and a .523 on-base percentage.

Senior pitcher Allison Macari leads with a 10–3 with a 1.75 ERA, tying classmate and senior pitcher Laura Quicker for the team lead with 10 complete games.

For now, the Bombers have plenty of momentum, winning 14 of their last 16 games, heading into the home stretch with games against Union College and Buffalo State College.

Jonathan Beck can be reached at jbeck3@ithaca.edu or via Twitter: @jonbeck365