UB softball swept by Kent State to start MAC play

Buffalo strikes out 22 times over the two-game series

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The softball team was in position to win its first game since March 18.

During the bottom of the seventh inning of Buffalo’s game against Kent State Saturday, the Bulls trailed by two when freshman infielder Sarah Edwards stepped to the plate with the bases loaded and two outs.

But Edwards struck out – one of 22 times the Bulls (7-22, 0-2 Mid-American Conference) did over the course of the weekend as they were swept by Kent State (21-6, 2-0 MAC) to open up conference play.

Buffalo dropped two games at the Diamond at Dix in Kent, Ohio and is now riding its longest losing streak of the season (six games).

“You want your players to be in that situation,” said head coach Trena Peel. “[Edwards] battled. She got seven pitches in the at-bat. In the end, it was a senior verses a freshman. If she had that situation again, I’d put my money on Sara. We just came up short.”

Junior third baseman Lauren Gambone was hit by a pitch to load the bases with two outs. Sophomore first baseman Savanna Norcio and senior infielder/pitcher Hayley Barrow both walked earlier in the inning to put the Bulls in a position to win their first MAC game of the season.

In the first game of the doubleheader, Buffalo jumped out to an early 2-0 lead due to a two-run homerun from Barrow. The homerun was the senior’s only hit in the two-game series.

Buffalo held a one-run lead going into the top of the fourth inning after Kent State scored on a single up the middle. The runner that scored originally struck out, but advanced to first on a passed ball on the third strike.

In the top of the fourth inning, Kent State’s Jayel Hayes hit a three-run homerun to deep center field to put the Golden Flashes ahead 4-2. Kent State did not relinquish its lead for the rest of the game.

The team struck out 22 times over the weekend, including 14 times in the first game on Saturday. Five different Bulls struck out multiple times during the game, including Edwards, who struck out twice in as many at-bats.

Nonetheless, Peel said she doesn’t think offense is the Bulls’ problem.

“[We need to] play defense,” Peel said. “We can hit and we can hit with the best of them. That’s what we have. But we have to play defense. Defense is why we’re losing. Offense is not necessarily the problem, but if we played defense, we’d be solid.”

Over the two-game stretch, Buffalo accumulated six error – three of which resulted in runs scored by the Golden Flashes.

In the second game of the series on Sunday, Kent State’s Kim Kirkpatrick hit a two-run homerun that was set up by a throwing error by Barrow. Later in the inning, the Golden Flashes’ Katlyn Purvis homered to left field to put Kent State ahead 4-1, a lead for the rest of the game. In total, Kent State hit six home runs on Sunday.

Sophomore pitcher Bobbi Langlois took the loss in the second game after throwing 4.2 innings and giving up four runs and eight hits. Barrow took the loss in the first game Saturday when she gave up five runs and seven hits over 5.1 innings.

Peel said the pitching staff is still developing, but she called the weekend series “a tough lesson.”

“We have a young staff,” Peel said. “It’s a whole new staff. They’re young, but they’re learning tough lessons, but they have to keep the ball and mix pitches. I see them getting better and our coaches have done a good job with working with them.”

Senior third baseman Alexis Curtiss led the Bulls with three hits in the second matchup but did not compile a hit in the first game. She finished the weekend going 3 for 7 with two RBIs and two strikeouts.

The Bulls are one of five MAC teams with a 0-2 record. Only Western Michigan (6-16, 0-2 MAC) has a lower overall win total. But Peel said there is still a lot of time for the season to play out. She expects the team to “find its groove” as conference play moves on.

“We’re knocking on the door to greatness,” Peel said.

The team will play again on Wednesday when it travels to Vestal, New York to play Binghamton (9-9) in a two-game series. The Bulls will then continue MAC play when they travel to Ball State (14-16, 2-0 MAC) on Friday for a doubleheader beginning at 1 p.m.

Wednesday’s first pitch is set for 2 p.m.

Jordan Grossman is the senior sports editor and can be reached at jordan.grossman@ubspectrum.com