(Carly Bilchak Photo Credit: GoBonnies.com)
By Chuckie Maggio @chuckiemaggio
The St. Bonaventure softball team got a major lift from the pitcher’s circle in a 2-0 victory at Joyce Field on Wednesday afternoon.
Carly Bilchak got the start for the Bonnies and delivered the best pitching performance of the season on the day the university blessed the new field. The senior retired the first 13 batters of the game before allowing a single to center to designated hitter Lauren Castro in the top of the fifth, one of just three hits she allowed on the day. Bilchak struck out six and did not issue a walk in the second complete game shutout of her career.
For a team that has allowed the most runs in the Atlantic 10, the dominating, mitt-popping performance was much-needed. Bilchak was undeterred as she cruised through the first four and a third innings, and after she allowed her first hit of the contest, she struck the next two batters out to end the inning.
“It’s a senior performance at this time of the year,” said Bona coach Mike Threehouse. “We brought her in four years ago to have days like this, and that’s what she did. Probably anybody else who’s not a senior might not have handled it the same way, but Carly came out and got it done. That’s what we expect out of her nowadays.”
After the sixth inning, it appeared that junior Kristen Hickling was getting loose in case Threehouse decided to take Bilchak out. According to Threehouse, that decision wouldn’t have gone over well.
“If I would’ve taken her out she would’ve probably beat me,” he joked. “It’s one of those things where as a senior, she’s been around here a long time. She knows how she’s supposed to finish this game, and she did a great, great job.”
With Bilchak dealing, Bona’s two runs ended up being enough to seal the victory. It was a senior performance at bat as well, with right fielder Kelli Rohan driving in both runs and Emily McDonough adding to her school record hit total with three more singles.
The slap-hitting duo continues to lead the A-10 in batting average, with McDonough at .440 and Rohan at .435. They are the only players in the conference with a .400-plus average.
“They’re the two best hitters in the A-10,” Threehouse said, almost matter-of-factly. “I might be biased about it, but that’s the truth. They’re leading the A-10 in hitting, and the skill they bring to the field everyday is incredible.
“They’re two of the best players that I’ve ever been around, let alone St. Bonaventure. They just keep doing what they do; they’re fantastic.”
SBU returns to A-10 play when it hosts Dayton for three games this weekend. The Flyers are second in the conference with a 9-2-1 league record and have won four of their last five contests. The 4-9 Bonnies have just two fewer conference wins than the 6-7 George Mason Patriots, who currently hold the final slot for the six-team A-10 Tournament.