Bengals eye late-season push for SUNYAC playoffs

Jason Guth, Sports Writer

BUFFALO, N.Y. – Coming into the final weekend of the regular season, the Buffalo State Softball team knows that their recent performance won’t cut it.

3-3 in their last six games, the recent stretch has been a microcosm of the 2022 season – one step forward, one step back.

After a woeful start to 2022 in Florida where they won just three of 12 games, the Bengals have since amassed a 9-11 record, including 4-10 in SUNYAC play.

Sitting at 12-20 overall, it’s been a trying campaign for the team that was ranked third in the SUNYAC preseason poll, one season removed from a SUNYAC semifinal appearance.

That isn’t to say there haven’t been some bright spots, though.

Through 32 games, sophomore Caitlyn Parsons and senior captain Oriana Castello are doing their best Ted Williams impressions, carrying batting averages over .400 (.411 and .405, respectively).

Senior Kayla Wolinski isn’t far behind, batting .373 while notching the SUNYAC/Prestosports Softball Athlete of the Week last week.

Freshman newcomer Sarah Congelosi has hit an impressive .365 in her 21 appearances – including her current 10-game hitting streak – while senior Taylor Benton and sophomore Abigail Kruse are also hitting above .300.

The problem?

While the potent offense has plated an impressive 157 runs (4.9 runs per game), the Bengals have given up 203, a run differential of -46 thanks in part to the team’s 64 errors.

That means pitching and defense are at a premium heading into the final two doubleheaders of the regular season. Fortunately for the Bengals, their final two opponents – Potsdam (2.8 runs per game) and Plattsburgh (3.3 runs per game) – may be just what the doctor ordered to make the playoffs.

After all, the Bengals are still mathematically alive, but it’s likely going to take four straight wins to get there.

If past is prologue, the Bengals have reason to be optimistic about their Friday matchup; not only is Potsdam winless on the season (0-29, 0-14 SUNYAC), but Buffalo State has won 18 straight against the Bears.

Plattsburgh, though, is a more formidable opponent as they currently occupy the five-seed in the six-team SUNYAC playoff bracket with seven conference wins.

Add to that the teams have been evenly matched in recent years, splitting their last six matchups, and you have a recipe for an anxious final weekend.

Buffalo State’s final push for the postseason gets underway at the Softball Field today at 3 p.m., with game two starting soon after. On Saturday, the Bengals again play host on Senior Day; first pitch is slated for noon, followed by the second game of the twin bill.