AKRON, OH - For the first time in school history the University at Buffalo softball team won its MAC Tournament opener, defeating Northern Illinois, 11-6. The Bulls scored runs in all six innings that it batted in, beginning with a four-run first inning. UB is now 28-20 on the year, increasing its school record for wins in a season.
The Bulls got out to an early 5-0 lead as they scored four in the first, including run-scoring singles from senior Heather Ryder and junior Karly Nevez. UB scored two more runs taking advantage of a pair of errors on one play.
In the second inning, UB used an RBI double from junior Alexis Curtiss, who made her return to the starting lineup after missing almost all of April with an injury.
The two teams traded runs in the third inning to take a 6-1 lead and then went up 8-2 in the fourth as Ryder drove in a pair of runs with a double to center field. Senior Holly Luciano doubled to left center in the fifth as UB went up 9-2, but NIU scored four times in the top of the sixth to pull within 9-6.
Buffalo scored two more times in the bottom of the sixth inning, using an RBI single from senior Tori Pettine and a sacrifice fly from junior Nora McGuire to increase its least to 11-6. The Huskies put two on in the seventh, but the Bulls retired NIU for the final out.
"I love these girls," said head coach Trena Peel. "They respect the game and play with heart and they make my job fun. We came out ready to play today and we needed to because NIU is a great team so we knew we had to play all the way to the last out."
Senior Tori Speckman picked up her 20th win of the season as she struck out seven batters in seven innings. She now has 210 strikeouts on the year, the most in a single season in school history, and 512 for her career,
The Bulls outhit NIU, 13-12, as seven different players recorded hits. Ryder went 3-for-4 in the contest as she had three runs batted in to lead the way. Luciano went 2-for-3 as did Nevez and junior Hayley Barrow. Pettine finished the evening with a pair of runs batted in.
The Bulls will now face Central Michigan on Thursday at 5:00 pm in the winners bracket of the tournament. CMU defeated Akron, 2-0, on Wednesday evening.