After thumping Northern Illinois last night, 11-6, the Buffalo Bulls softball team advanced into the winner's bracket of the second round of the 2014 MAC Softball Tournament. Their opponent this evening, in a game scheduled to begin at 5PM ET, will be the Central Michigan Chippewas, who beat Akron last night, 2-0. Akron would have been an interesting matchup for the Bulls for two reasons; first because it would have been the two teams' first meeting of the season (a doubleheader game at Akron was rained out on April 4th), and second because Akron pitcher Erin Seiler edged out Buffalo's own Tori Speckman to claim the 2014 MAC Pitcher of the Year award. But the Zips offense couldn't get the job done, so the Bulls will face off against the Chips tonight in a rematch of an April 11th doubleheader that was played at Nan Harvey Field. So, what happened that day? Having seen both games, I'll try to give a brief recap.
Tori Speckman started Game 1 for the Bulls and turned in another dominant pitching performance in a 5-2 win, out-dueling her likely opponent tonight, CMU's Morgan Yuncker. Speckman struck out 4 batters over seven innings of complete game work, with only a pair of CMU solo home runs in the sixth inning (with UB holding a comfortable 5-0 lead) to blemish the outing. Sammi Gallardo started the bottom of the first with a leadoff home run for the Bulls, and Hayley Barrow also hit a 2 run HR in the bottom of the 1st to provide Buffalo with all of the offense they would need on the day. UB would later tack on a couple of runs in the 4th aided by some sloppy defense by the Chips.
In Game 2, Hayley Barrow started in the circle for the Bulls after catching all 7 innings of the first game, and immediately ran into trouble with walks. After CMU loaded the bases in the top of the 1st inning, they scored 2 runs on a single hit and a UB error. It was all the offense the Chips would need on the day, as CMU's Rachael Knapp shut down the Bulls offense on route to a 5-1 win, with a solo home run by Barrow in the bottom of the sixth being the only offense Buffalo could muster in the nightcap.
For tonight, the key will be the Buffalo offense against whoever CMU puts into the circle tonight (my guess is that it will be Yuncker - she threw a CG last night in the win over Akron). Tori should be able to handle the Chips offense, and if the Bulls offense can get some runs on the board early and stake her to an early lead, UB should be able to get through this game and into the winner's bracket again.
Just a reminder, you can watch all of the action at the 2014 MAC Softball Tournament streaming live at: