Ithaca’s softball team, ranked 27th in the latest National Fastpitch Coaches Association Division III Poll, swept SUNY-Oneonta this afternoon at Kostrinsky Field with victories of 1–0 and 8–1, respectively.
Freshman pitcher Sam Bender had her first career shutout in game one, allowing six hits and one walk in a complete game effort.
The infield behind Bender was especially busy, with 20 of the game’s 21 put outs for Ithaca coming in the infield.
Senior second baseman Kait Dolan said the defensive effort helped Bender remain composed in the circle, especially in the sixth inning when SUNY-Oneonta had runners on first and second with two outs in a scoreless game.
“When the game was close we were able to make plays that other teams can’t make all the time,” she said. “Once we executed in the field, we felt like [Bender] could afford to breathe a little bit and hit her spots easier.”
Despite the Blue and Gold getting the lead runner aboard in four of the first six innings, they could not get a run across the plate until the sixth. Dolan led off with a single and stole second. Senior designated player Kerry Barger sacrificed her to third before senior pitcher and outfielder Britt Lillie drove her in with a sharp single to left field for what would be the game-winning run.
Sophomore outfielder Jen Biondi said the team found more ways to score in the second game because they took advantage of SUNY-Oneonta’s pitching miscues such as walks and hit batters.
“Sometimes when your bats aren’t there you have to do whatever you can to make it work to get on base and score, and it came easier once we cashed in on some mistakes,” she said.
The mistakes came in the fifth inning, where the South Hill squad scored half the game’s runs. After freshman pinch hitter Jamie Nash and Biondi were both hit by pitches and freshman pinch runner Rachel Dell’Orto reached third on an error, Dolan had her third RBI hit of the afternoon. Lille followed with a two-run double to deep center field.
The Bombers bats also came alive, as freshman utility player Julianne Vincent and Biondi hit back-to-back two-out doubles with two strikes.
Lillie started game two, letting up only one run and four hits from the Red Dragons. Despite giving up a couple long doubles to the warning track, Lille said being able to avoid surrendering the long ball kept the team in a rhythm.
“You never want to give up a home run because it’s such an easy way for a team to score and we don’t have to do any work on defense,” she said.
Ithaca will face two Empire 8 conference opponents at Kostrinsky Field this weekend, starting with a doubleheader against St. John Fisher at 1 p.m. Saturday.