Bengals’ bats come alive in pair of SUNYAC sweeps

The Buffalo State women’s softball team wanted to forget about losing three out of four games last week.

Oh, did they ever.

The Bengals swept doubleheaders against Plattsburgh on Saturday (winning 9-1 in game one and 9-8 in game two) and Potsdam on Sunday (7-1 in game one, 6-3 in game two) over the weekend to improve to 12-8 overall and 6-2 in SUNYAC play. The pair of sweeps was in the wake of being outscored 21-0 by Geneseo in a doubleheader sweep on April 6.

“This is our team right now,” head coach Marie Curran said. “That game last Sunday, we don’t know who that team was.”

The 4-0 weekend began with a 9-1 win over Plattsburgh. Bengals’ junior pitcher Maddie Coneys scattered five hits over five innings to get the win.

Buffalo State held a slim 2-1 lead through three innings, but the Bengals were able to push across four runs in the fourth and three in the fifth to break it open. Junior Kate Brownell highlighted the scoring action in the fourth when she hit a two-run double into the gap in left center. Senior Shelly Maggard and sophomore Chrissy Rennard each added RBI singles in the fourth.

Maggard followed that up with an RBI sacrifice fly in the fifth to finish 2-for-2 with two RBIs. Sophomore Stephanie Novo led the Bengals at the plate, going 3-for-4 with two runs scored in the win.

In game two, Buffalo State had to battle back after trailing 8-3 through five-and-a-half innings. Sophomore pitcher Jordan Sarat started the game for Buffalo State, but had to leave after getting hit with a line drive in the hand. Senior Sam Tilkins came in for relief and allowed six runs (four earned) over three-and-one-third innings, while Buffalo State made three errors in the field.

The Bengals erupted with six runs in the sixth inning to take a 9-8 lead. Buffalo State loaded the bases with no outs after and Carly Knight and Joanna Bardak each got hit by pitches and Jordan Dudish hit a single. Two batters later, Novo cleared the bases with a three-run double to right field to cut Plattsburgh’s lead to 8-6. Then, Novo scored on an error to make it 8-7.

Brownell came off the bench to pinch hit for Jenna Clarke and delivered a two-run single with two outs to give Buffalo State a 9-8 lead. Brownell’s hit would prove to be the game winner.

“I felt a little anxious and was ahead of two changeups, but I fouled them off to keep me alive,” Brownell said. “Then, I just saw the ball fat and hit it.”

Coneys sat Plattsburgh down one-two-three to secure the win for Buffalo State. The win was the second come-from-behind victory in two weeks for the Bengals, after battling back against Fredonia in walk-off fashion on April 1.

“We don’t give up. We can come back from anything,” Novo said.

Coneys pitched an inning and two-thirds, allowing no runs on two hits to earn the win.

“Maddie is definitely the leader of our pitching staff, she’s taken that role on whole heartedly,” Curran said. “I think we failed Sam (Tilkins) a little bit, in that, when she got hit a lot harder than she let on to. She started to lose velocity, and that’s one of Sam’s strengths. As a coaching staff, we should have caught that sooner and got somebody in the game. Maddie wanted that game. She’s a great example for our young pitching staff.”

Buffalo State took on Potsdam on Sunday and swept another SUNYAC doubleheader, winning game one, 7-1 and game two, 6-3. In game one, Novo hit a three-run homer that banged off the scoreboard in left-center and Bardak went 2-for-3 with an RBI to pace the Bengals on offense.

Coneys got the win, pitching five strong innings and striking out seven. Allison Novak pitched the final two innings, allowing no runs and no hits. Buffalo State played a clean game defensively and did not commit an error.

In game two, Buffalo State used a four-run first inning to propel them to a 6-3 win. Sarat and Novak each pitched three innings, with Novak earning the win. Tilkins came in to earn the save in relief.

Bardak went 3-for-3 with three RBIs, and Novo continued her hot hitting, going 2-for-3 and scoring two runs. Novo finished the weekend 9-for-15 with seven RBIs and continues to lead the SUNYAC in hitting with a .528 batting average. Novo also leads the SUNYAC in runs scored, doubles, total bases, slugging percentage, and on-base-percentage.

“Honestly, Stephanie Novo is that good,” Curran said. “She doesn’t realize it, the rest of the country has no idea, but she’s that good. It’s amazing, her hand-eye coordination is better than anyone I’ve ever seen. It’s just keeping her confident, relaxed and having fun, and she can do a lot of good things this year.”

The Bengals will play two games against Penn St-Behrend on Wednesday, before hosting SUNYAC foes Cortland and Oswego on Friday and Saturday respectively.

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