Top 10 of the D1 Era - No. 8: Stacey Evans
Softball player brought program to new heights from the circle
When Stacey Evans (2002-05) began her career on the softball team in 2002, the Bulls didn't have much to celebrate.
In their first two seasons as a Division I program, the Bulls went 19-78. Over the next four seasons, Evans helped lead Buffalo to the best two-year stretch in program history - all while becoming the most dominant pitcher in school history.
She led the Bulls to their first and only winning season to date in 2004, two straight winning seasons in Mid-American Conference play and the program's first and only playoff appearance.
Evans graduated as the program's career leader in games played, games started, innings pitched, strikeouts, wins, shutouts and ERA. She continues to hold the record in all those categories except games, games started and innings pitched.
She leads in those categories by a large margin. Evans has nine more wins and her ERA is nearly half of a run better than the nearest Bull in each category.
"She was one of the hardest working players we had," said former head coach and current Buffalo State head coach Marie Curran. "We were very lucky during Stacey's career. There were a couple of girls who really pushed themselves and pushed the team. But Stacey, you never had to ask her to do anything, she was doing it all by herself."
Curran, who coached the Bulls from 2000 to 2008, called Evans a quiet leader at practice and in the classroom. She was a leader by example. Curran said the team would have been surprised to see Evans get animated.
On May 8, 2004, Evans tossed a no-hitter against Toledo in the Bulls' final game of the season. She had flirted with a no-hitter before, but never completed the feat. It was the second no-hitter in program history.
"Emotionally, you couldn't tell with her," Curran said of Evans' demeanor during the game. "It was the same face she had every other game, but afterwards she was so excited she had done it."
The no-hitter also gave the Bulls their 25th victory of the season, a program record that still stands. Buffalo finished with a 25-23 record and an 11-10 MAC record in 2004.
It was the first time Buffalo had finished with an overall record or MAC record above .500. It's still Buffalo softball's lone season better than .500.
The only other time the program has finished with a winning MAC record came in 2005. The Bulls made their first and only appearance in the MAC Tournament in 2005 and won their first tournament game, defeating Kent State 2-0 in Evans' senior season.
Evans' 2004 season still stands as one of the greatest in program history. She pitched 182.1 innings in 26 starts - roughly a complete game every time she took the mound. She struck out 178 batters, breaking her own record of 137 strikeouts from the previous season. Evans finished with 11 wins, nine shutouts and a 1.38 ERA.
Evans was named to the All-MAC First Team after the season, the first Bulls pitcher to be awarded with the honor.
Curran said Evans' impact on the program stuck after she left as her performance helped the coaching staff recruit potential players while her work ethic left a mark on her teammates.
"For Stacey, [she proved that] someone who works hard can accomplish a lot," Curran said. "When she had been a part of the program we hadn't really had pitching at that point, we had just had some younger players who were decent but kind of creating that step forward and getting us to the conference tournament before she graduated was huge."
Evans has been a rare bright spot for a softball program that has historically struggled to win games. With her name etched throughout the program's record books and attached to some of the best teams in school history, even if the program reverses its fortunes in the future, she will remain an important name in the history of UB softball.