DEKALB, IL – The University at Buffalo softball team received another outstanding pitching performance from senior Tori Speckman as she struck out 11 batters in a 7-2 victory over Northern Illinois on Saturday afternoon. Speckman did not allow a hit until the sixth inning as she picked up her 42nd career win, tying the school record set by Stacey Evans in 2005. The victory improves UB to 24-20 and 8-5 in Mid-American Conference play.
The Bulls opened the game with three runs in the top of the first inning as UB took advantage of a lead-off walk to a red-hot Sammi Gallardo. The Bulls put runners on the corners with one out as senior Heather Ryder singled home the afternoon's first run. The big hit in the inning came from freshman Ashton Earnhardt, who drove in two runs with a triple down the right field line, giving the Bulls a 3-0 lead.
The Huskies scored one run in the bottom of the first, without recording a hit, as Speckman kept NIU out of the hit column until the sixth inning. She had eight strikeouts through four innings and punched out two more in the fifth. The Bulls continued to lead 3-1 when they scored four in the sixth inning.
Gallardo hit a one-out double as she has now hit safely in nine straight games. The Bulls put two in scoring position as a fielder's choice from Nora McGuire drove in a run. The Bulls scored another run as Ryder drove in pinch runner Alexis Curtiss. Freshman Jessica Taylor drove in another run with a single to right field, while Earnhardt picked up her third run batted in of the game with a sacrifice fly.
The Huskies got just two hits off of Speckman, both doubles, scoring one more run in the bottom of the sixth inning. NIU put two on in the seventh, but couldn't get a run across the plate.
"Excellent day in the circle as Tori had 11 K's," said head coach Trena Peel. "I can't ask for much more than that. Offensively, we jumped on them early and then we finished strong in the sixth inning."
Speckman improved to 16-11 on the year as she continued to build on her single-season school record for wins. She allowed just two hits on the afternoon as she struck out 11. The Bulls finished with eight hits, including 2-for-3 games from Earnhardt and junior Karly Nevez. Earnhardt tied her career high with three runs batted in. Gallardo and senior Holly Luciano both drew a pair of walks.
The Bulls and Huskies close out their two-game series tomorrow at 2:00 pm EST.