FAIRFAX, VA. – The Howard softball team left with three wins at the Cherry Blossom Classic on March 18-20, defeating Monmouth, Albany (N.Y.), and tournament host George Mason. Leading the Lady Bison (6-15) at the plate was shortstop Rebecca Kirshner who recorded nine of Howard's 49 total hits over the span of the weekend.
Kirshner's breakout performance came in HU's third game against Albany (1-9) on Saturday afternoon where she tallied four hits, including back-to-back doubles in the first and second innings.
Against Albany, Howard recorded their most hits in the tournament with 15. Behind Kirshner was second baseman Trina Kindred with three hits, and Ciera Gordon, Lorae Robinson and Christine Sborz with two hits a piece.
Pitchers Samantha Gatson and Emily Johnson shared the mound. Gatson tallied six strikeouts in her four innings of work. Johnson shutout Albany for the remainder of the game, giving Howard the 8-1 win.
Prior to meeting Albany, Howard split games with Monmouth (9-10) and Cornell. Against Momouth the Lady Bison escalated to a 2-0 lead by the end of the third inning following scattered hits and Monmouth errors. In the third inning Kirshner blasted a homer beyond left field, racking in two RBI for the Bison. Monmouth would post two unearned runs in the bottom of the third and fifth innings to advance the score, 4-2.
In the sixth, Howard popped open four hits and gained their fifth run of the game. Monmouth failed to catch up with Howard and only managed to score one run in the seventh, ending the game with 5-3 win for the Lady Bison.
Against Cornell (5-6), Howard fell, 2-4. Despite opening up the game on the board first with one run, Cornell responded with two runs in the bottom of the first, and scored another in the second and fifth. HU mustered another run in the fourth inning after Kirshner kicked off with a leadoff double. Brittany Barker immediately followed with a single, advancing Kirshner to third who scored on the next play when Gordon flied out to center.
The Lady Bison were outhit 4-8 and struck out six times. Howard had another shot at Cornell on Sunday, but were unable to catch up with their opponent at the plate as they were outhit 3-10 in the 1-5 loss.
Howard finished the tournament with a 6-0 win over tournament host George Mason (9-9), marking their first shutout win of the season.
Carly Martin took control in the circle and pitched all seven innings and notched three strikeouts and allowed six hits and only one walk. Howard played solid defense and produced zero errors against GMU. At the plate Marisa Coats, Robinson and Kirshner rolled in with two hits and one RBI a piece.
Up next, the Howard softball team will prepare to take on Bowie State on Wednesday, March 30 in the nation's capital and then into conference play immediately after. For more information on the HU softball, visit www.Howard-Bison.com.