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Monday, June 17, 2024
The independent student publication of The University at Buffalo, since 1950

Bulls Show Hometown Crowd Some Love

In the softball team's first game on familiar ground this season, it snagged a big win against a conference rival over the weekend.

The Bulls (8-20, 3-1 Mid-American Conference) earned their first win at home on Saturday against Western Michigan (7-20, 2-2 MAC). The series was the second doubleheader of the weekend for Buffalo, which lost two games against Northern Illinois (13-15, 3-1 MAC) on Friday.

Freshman pitcher Tori Speckman earned her fifth win of the season in the 5-4 victory over the Broncos. She pitched a combined 11 2/3 innings of relief in the series.

Speckman entered the game after the Broncos tied the score at 3-3 in the third inning. She allowed only one run in the six remaining frames, allowing the Bulls to pick up the win in extra innings.

Last week, Speckman earned MAC East Softball Pitcher of the Week honors. Despite the success of the young pitcher, head coach Jennifer Teague thinks that there's more that Speckman can offer.

"She's been solid for us," Teague said. "For a freshman, she's pitched in some tough situations for us, and given up very few runs, and that's kind of what we've expected. It's been a long haul for her, she came in hot earlier in the season, and she's close to where we need her, but I think there's a little bit more that she can give us."

The win would be the only victory of the weekend for the Bulls. In game one against the Broncos, the Bulls got shut out, 2-0. Buffalo managed only four hits against Western Michigan pitcher Meredith Whitney, who earned the win for WMU.

On Friday, poor field conditions forced the Bulls to switch venues to Niagara University's Niagara Field to open up a doubleheader against Northern Illinois. The Bulls fell short in both games of the doubleheader.

In the opener of the weekend, the Bulls forced the Huskies into extra innings. The effort from the bullpen gave the Bulls a chance to win. Junior pitcher Holly Johnson came in for Speckman in the top of the third inning, shutting out the Huskies for seven of the 11 innings she pitched.

"I wouldn't say it's a strong bullpen," Teague said. "But we're making it work with what we have. Sometimes we're pitching by committee, one girl will pitch a couple of innings and then we'll make a change. We're working with what we have and it's going a bit better."

The final run was scored in the 13th inning to give Northern Illinois a 10-9 victory over the Bulls.

After facing tough competition in the early parts of the season, Teague voiced hopes that the team would finally get into a rhythm of being able to score runs in high-pressure situations.

"We played a lot of tough competition in the preseason and faced a lot of good pitchers," Teague said. "So we knew that our batting average was not going to be great at the start of the season. We knew once we got to conference that our averages would level out. We've made adjustments now and are starting to see improvement and there will be some things we continue to work on, like [players'] technique and hitting the ball where they need to be."

In game two against the Huskies, the Bulls struggled to put up runs and were shut out, 7-0.

The Bulls will be home in their next series, playing against Cleveland State (19-13, 4-4 Horizon League) in a doubleheader on Wednesday afternoon. First pitch is at 3 p.m. with the next game following immediately after.




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