Speckman's no-hitter helps Bulls win first-ever MAC East title

Softball team sweeps Kent State en route to title

By JEFF PLACITO
On May 4, 2014

Senior pitcher Tori Speckman's first no-hitter of this season came April 5. It was historic because it was just the third no-hitter in program history.

Her second no-hitter, which happened Saturday, was historic for more than one reason: she became the first pitcher in program history to throw more than one no-hitter, and it helped the softball team clinch its first-ever Mid-American Conference East title.

The Bulls (27-20, 11-5 MAC) swept Kent Sate (24-18, 10-6 MAC) in a two-game series this weekend to earn their first MAC East title and set a new single-season wins record (27). The team also tied the program's record for conference wins (11). The softball team enters the MAC Tournament as the No. 2 seed - the highest position in program history. Buffalo won 9-0 Saturday followed by a 2-1 victory Sunday.

"We've just been working hard and playing consistent softball," said head coach Trena Peel. "You know we're hitting well now and Tori has been our workhorse throughout the whole season. Everything is clicking for us."

Speckman continued to add to her record-breaking season. Even the weather delay could not damper Speckman's terrific day, as Saturday's game ended after five innings due to rain. She struck out four batters and allowed no walks in the victory.

One run by the Bulls' offense would have been sufficient to earn the win, but the offense provided Speckman with nine runs on 10 hits. Sophomore second baseman Ryleigh Fitzgerald drove in four runs, including a fourth-inning three-run double. Senior shortstop Sammi Gallardo had three RBIs for the Bulls.

Peel believes her team's success has emerged from its ability to strive through adversity.

"We have had so many different players playing out of position so there's nothing that has surprised us," Peel said. "I'm just so proud of how this team has fought since the beginning of the season because nothing has come easy for us."

With the MAC East title on the line for the Bulls in their second game of the series, the Bulls faced a closer game. Buffalo defeated Kent State 2-1 behind another impressive outing by Speckman and two solo home runs from senior outfielder Holly Luciano and junior catcher Hayley Barrow to capture the title.

Speckman pitched a complete game while allowing one run and striking out five batters. The only blemish on the day was a solo home run in the bottom of the first inning.

Luciano catapulted the Bulls' offense with a first-inning solo home run. After Kent State scored its only run of the game, a pitching duel followed as both pitchers commanded the mound for three scoreless innings. Barrow stepped up to the plate in the fifth inning and drove in the game-winning run on a home run.       

With the No. 2 seed locked up for the Bulls in the MAC Tournament, Buffalo faces No. 7 Northern Illinois (22-29, 10-12 MAC) Wednesday at 5 p.m. in Akron, Ohio.

 

email: sports@ubspectrum.com


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