ORONO, Maine — The University of Maine softball team concludes the home portion of its schedule and its America East slate this weekend when it entertains Binghamton.
The Black Bears play a noon doubleheader on Saturday and an 11 a.m. single game on Sunday at Kessock Field.
It will be “Seniors Weekend” and the four seniors will be honored, but the Bears find themselves in desperate need of at least two wins, if not all three, in the battle to earn one of four AE playoff berths.
Maine (15-16, 6-8 AE) sits in fifth place. UMBC (5-6 AE) has the fourth and final playoff spot.
UMBC visits 1-11 Hartford for a three-game set this weekend before hosting Albany, 8-3 and tied for second, in two weeks.
Maine has lost seven of its last nine America East games and has been shut out four times in those seven losses, including twice last weekend by league leader Stony Brook (13-1).
Maine limited Stony Brook to six runs in the three-game set but mustered only one run and nine hits.
Binghamton (19-19, 8-3 AE) has won five straight while Maine has lost three in a row.
“We’ve made it tough on ourselves [to make the playoffs]. Our pitching and our defense have been good but we just haven’t been able to get a big hit when we need it,” said Maine coach Lynn Coutts. “Everyone has a role but I think the players were trying to do too much [individually] last weekend. We went toe-to-toe with Stony Brook but just couldn’t get a key hit.”
South Portland junior Alexis Bogdanovich, who allowed 11 hits and three runs over 12 innings with 16 strikeouts and no walks, threw 131 strikes among 158 pitches in the two games.
She lost 1-0 and 2-0.
Hannah Hill tossed a three-hitter in the middle game, striking out nine and walking two in a 3-1 loss.
Coutts remains upbeat, saying “there have been a lot of positive things this season. We’re moving forward.”
Four freshmen have played in at least 25 of Maine’s 31 games (15-16) and another, catcher Rachel Harvey, has appeared in 22. Shortstop Felicia Lennon has played in all 31 games and is hitting .234 with two homers, nine runs batted in and a team-high eight stolen bases. Third baseman Shelby Obert of Skowhegan (.253, 13 RBIs, 30 games), outfielder Samantha Ralphs (.319, 6 SB, 29 games) and Harvey (.255, 1 HR, 8 RBI) also have been solid.
Coutts praised junior right fielder Jessica Burk, who leads the team in average (.415), homers (3), hits (39) and RBIs (17), along with junior 2B Kristen Koslosky (.257), junior C/CF EmJ Fogel (.309, 13 RBIs) and Bogdanovich (4-7, 2.40 earned run average) and said Hill (6-4, 2.73) has bounced back nicely after straining her neck.
All four seniors have been important contributors throughout their careers: pitchers Hill and Kylie Sparks, third baseman-designated player Jean Stevens and left fielder Dagmar Ralphs.