February 7, 2014

Softball Opens 2014 With Historic Offensive Output

BATON ROUGE, LA – The start of the Trena Peel era was a successful one for the University at Buffalo softball team as the Bulls swept their season-opening doubleheader from Southern University this afternoon.  UB won by scores of 10-1 in the opener and 19-5 in the second game to improve to 2-0 for the first time since 2000.

While the opening game was impressive, it was game two that will go into the record books as one of the most dominant offensive performances in UB's Division I era.  The Bulls scored a D-I school record 19 runs, while also setting the school mark for runs batted in with 18.  The Bulls scored seven runs in the top of the third inning and eight runs in the top of the sixth inning as they won both contests by the mercy rule.

UB opened the season with a 10-1 victory over the Jaguars, wasting no time as they scored seven runs in their first inning of the year.  The big hit came from senior Holly Luciano, who had herself an unbelievable day.  With the bases loaded, Luciano cleared them all with a three-run triple.  UB ended up sending 12 to the plate in the first inning.  That was all that senior Tori Speckman would need in the circle as she pitched four innings of one-run ball, striking out eight.

UB added to its lead with a run in the third and two more in the fourth to go up 10-0.  The Jaguars scored their only run in the bottom of the fourth.

Seven different Bulls recorded hits in the opener, including two-hit games from Luciano, senior Sammi Gallardo and junior Karly Nevez.  Gallardo hit her first home run of the season as she joined Luciano with three runs batted in.  Newcomer Hayley Barrow drove in her first run of the season as did senior Heather Ryder.  Junior transfer Stephanie Beuther added two runs batted in.

While the offensive performance was impressive, it was nothing compared to what they would do in the second game.  Luciano led the way in the nightcap with six runs batted in, as she went 3-for-4, including a double and a three-run home run.  Through two games, Luciano already has nine runs batted in.  She finished with just seven all of last year.

UB broke it open with seven runs in the top of the third.  Luciano hit a three-run double, while freshman Ashton Earnhardt drove in her first two runs of the season.  UB added three runs in the top of the fifth and then exploded for eight runs in the top of the sixth, just one run shy of the school record for runs in an inning.

The Bulls sent 11 to the plate in the sixth inning, with Luciano capping her day off with a three-run home run.  Junior Alexis Curtiss drove in two in the inning as well with a single to right field and junior Nora McGuire recorded her first career RBI with a single as she drove in Curtiss.

Ryder picked up the victory in game two as she went 5.0 innings and allowed five hits and just one earned run.  Junior Devon Rodriguez pitched the final inning in both ends of the doubleheader.

Overall, the Bulls outscored their opponent 29-6 today, hitting .444 as a team over the two games.  11 different players recorded hits and 11 different players drove in runs.  Last season, the Bulls did not score their 29th run until the 14th game of the season.

Luciano finished the day 5-for-7 with nine runs batted in, while Nevez was 4-for-6 and Gallardo finished 3-for-5.  Curtiss was 4-for-8 on the afternoon.

"I am proud of my girls," said Peel.  "They played hard and were very aggressive at the plate.  We took our hacks and hit good pitches.  For this being our first time out on dirt, I thought our defense was pretty solid.  Our pitching staff did their job today.  Speckman got us going in the first game and she set the tone with her eight strikeouts.  Heather threw some good innings and Devon closed out both games and got us groundball outs.  I know Nicole is going to bounce back tomorrow and give us some good innings."

It is a quick turnaround for UB, who begins the 2014 Lion Classic tomorrow, playing three games.  The Bulls open it up against Texas Tech at 11:00 am eastern time and they will follow that up with games against Alabama State and then the host school, Southeastern Louisiana.