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Monday, June 17, 2024
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Hot Start to MAC Play

Speckman pitches gems

After stumbling out of the gate in non-conference play, the softball team feasted on its Mid-American Conference counterparts as league play began this past week.

After a series split at Toledo (5-22, 1-3 Mid-American) on Friday, the Bulls (8-20, 3-1 MAC) traveled to Bowling Green for a doubleheader against the Falcons (4-17, 0-4 MAC).

By the time the Bulls finally got on the diamond for game one against the Rockets, it had been 12 days since their last game. The layoff showed in game one when Buffalo fell 6-2 against Toledo pitcher Jenn Solanics who threw a complete game.

Freshman right fielder Holly Luciano didn't suffer any effects from the time off, as she recorded three of the Bulls' 10 hits in the loss. She continues to lead the Bulls with her .292 batting average this season.

Buffalo bounced back in the nightcap by outlasting Toledo, 5-4. With the game tied at two runs apiece heading to the final inning, the Bulls put together a three-run seventh inning to secure the victory.

Sophomore first baseman Jessica Griffin went 2-for-4 in the win and recorded two RBIs. Senior shortstop Alex Bejarano, junior third baseman Kristin Waldron, and Luciano all went 2-for-3 in the game with one RBI each.

Game one against the Falcons on Saturday featured a pitchers' duel. Freshman pitcher Tori Speckman was locked in from the start of the game, according to head coach Jennifer Teague.

"Everything was clicking for her," Teague said. "It's something that we've been waiting a long time for. As a freshman, you come in here and you're used to striking everyone out in high school. But this is a completely different game, and adjustments need to be made. I think she finally did that [on Saturday]."

The Bulls' offense finally broke through in the fifth inning when sophomore second baseman Andi Saucier doubled to plate Bejarano and sophomore catcher Alyssa Ward. Saucier later scored on a sacrifice fly off the bat of freshman shortstop Sammi Gallardo to give the Bulls a 3-0 lead they wouldn't relinquish.

That would be all the support Speckman would need, as she hurled a complete game gem, holding the Falcons scoreless while recording seven strikeouts.

However, she wasn't finished just yet.

The freshman started game two and clearly carried over the momentum she had built from her previous effort. She went the distance yet again, striking out three Falcons while surrendering just one run in the complete game masterpiece.

The Bulls made sure not to waste Speckman's stellar outing, as they pounded out nine runs on eight hits en route to a 9-1 thrashing of the Falcons in game two, to complete the sweep.

Highlighted by freshman designated hitter Tori Pettine's double in the second that scored Saucier and Gallardo, the Bulls built a 5-0 lead. They would later add on to that in the fourth inning when Bejarano singled home both freshman outfielder Kelli Gleiser and Pettine.

Teague thinks the Bulls are finally starting to hit their stride at the right time.

"It's always good to sweep a team, especially [one] like Bowling Green," Teague said. "I think it's a good start to our conference play and we need to continue to believe in the process we've put in place. Conference is what matters, and we're building for the conference season. We went through a lot of adversity during our non-conference play, but I think we're better for it and we're starting to turn a corner."

Up next for the Bulls is a trip to local rival Niagara (7-9) on Wednesday before they return to Amherst for their home opener this Friday. First pitch against Niagara is scheduled for 4 p.m.

Email: sports@ubspectrum.com


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