Bulls Sweep Crucial Doubleheader At Northern Illinois
BUFFALO, NY – The University at Buffalo softball team remained on an offensive tear Friday afternoon as the Bulls swept a doubleheader at Northern Illinois. UB won the first game 7-3 and the second game 8-3 and have now won three straight games to improve their record to 11-20 and 3-6 in the MAC.
"We got a complete effort on the mound and at the plate today," said head coach Jen Teague. "Our defense was a little shaky for one inning in the second game, but once we cleaned that up I thought we played great in the field."
In the opener, UB starter Tori Speckman took a no-hitter into the fifth inning and the Bulls broke the game open with five runs in the top of the fourth. Freshman Karly Nevez opened the inning with a triple to right center. Fellow freshman Alexis Curtiss drew a walk and stole second to put two runners in scoring position. Junior Caitlin Dekker followed with a double to right field, scoring Nevez and moving Curtiss to third base. Following an intentional walk to Alyssa Ward to load the bases, sophomore Sammi Gallardo drove in Curtiss on a sacrifice fly. Back-to-back Northern Illinois errors scored two more Buffalo runs and sophomore Tori Pettine capped it off with a single to center field, which scored Kristin Waldron.
The Bulls added another two runs in the top of the fifth as Curtiss opened the inning with a single to left field. Gallardo then launched her second home run of the season to left field, which gave the Bulls a 7-0 lead.
The Huskies broke through for three runs in the bottom of the sixth, which chased Speckman, but senior Holly Johnson came in for the final two innings to pick up her first save of the year. Speckman improved her record to 8-9 with the win as she struck out four batters.
Curtiss and Ward each had two-hit games as all nine UB batters had at least one hit in the opening game. Gallardo finished with three runs batted in.
The Bulls continued their offensive prowess in game two, getting on the board in the top of the third. Sophomore Holly Luciano hit a one-out triple to right field and scored on an error by the NIU first baseman. The Huskies tied it up in the bottom of the third against Johnson, but UB responded by putting up a four-spot in the fourth.
Ward opened the inning with a triple to right center and came in to score on a single to center field by Gallardo. Waldron followed it up with a single to right center, advancing Gallardo to third. Junior Jessica Griffin followed that up with a single to score Gallardo, moving Waldron to third. UB then executed a perfect suicide squeeze as Pettine dropped down the bunt, which scored Waldron. Luciano added a double to center field, scoring Griffin for the fourth run of the inning.
UB added another three runs in the fifth inning to break the game open. Dekker began the inning with a double to right center and then Ward was hit by a pitch. Sophomore Kelli Gleiser came in to pinch run for Dekker, and both her and Ward came in to score on a double to center field from Gallardo. The sophomore from Chula Vista, CA moved to third on a groundout and scored on another groundout to the shortstop, giving Buffalo an 8-1 lead. NIU added two runs in the bottom of the fifth, but the Bulls held on for the 8-3 victory.
Johnson, who recorded a save in game one, picked up her third win of the year as she pitched all seven innings, scattering eight hits, She struck out six batters and walked four, while allowing two earned runs. Ward continued her solid week by going 2-for-3 in the second game. Gallardo and Luciano each finished with two-hit games as well. Gallardo had another three runs batted in, giving her six on the day.
"This team is starting to get to the level that we have been working towards and we just ask them everyday to stay accountable and keep each other accountable and they have been doing that," said Teague. "We are going to ride this momentum into Kalamazoo this weekend and work to get better. I am very pleased with the team and our coaching staff right now."
The Bulls open a two-game series at Western Michigan tomorrow. First pitch is set for 2:00 pm.