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UB Softball splits Opening-Day games with Western Kentucky, Alabama State

UB Athletics

Well, Tori Speckman isn't around anymore. And we may need to shore up the D a little quite a bit. But, when all is said and done, UB Softball is 1-1 after two games on Opening Day in the Chick-Fil-A Invite, hosted by Troy.

The first game UB generate barely any offense and suffer an 8-0 loss, halted after six innings, to Western Kentucky. All eight Hilltoppers runs and 11 of their 18 baserunners came in two innings. The second game, an 11-8 victory over Alabama State, was a bit better; UB scored in five different innings, but still gave up 8, including four with two outs and a four-run lead in the seventh.

On the other side, Buffalo ran into a buzzsaw in WKU senior Miranda Kramer, who needed only 18 outs to rack up 11 strikeouts while allowing only two hits. UB had two on in the sixth when the deficit was only 3-0, but Nora McGuire struck out and Buffalo didn't get to the plate again.

Contributing to the opponents' crooked numbers on the scoreboard was inconsistency from Buffalo pitchers, which, honestly, was to be expected and is likely not going to go away in the short term. Bobbi Langlois was the first option, pitching the full 5.1 innings against Western Kentucky, and like I said above, had just two really bad stretches, though 18 runners over 6 innings isn't great no matter where you look.

In the second game, UB saw a bit more of a rotation. Hayley Barrow and freshman Charlotte Miller were about even in effectiveness, though Miller - a Kenmore native appearing her first collegiate competition - pitched 5 innings to Barrow's 3. Until the 7th, Miller was particularly effective, holding the Hornets scoreless after Alabama State scored thrice in the first three innings.

That seventh, though. Woof. With a 7-3 lead and two outs, Buffalo somehow gave up four and only made it to extras when freshman center fielder Leandra Jew threw out the winning run at home from center field to end the inning, a play more impressive considering what had happened moments earlier.

Miller gave up a single and two quick HBPs to load the bases, prompting Coach Peel to bring in fellow freshman Madison Vaught, who promptly gave up a two-run single, exacerbated by a throwing error from Jew that sent a third runner in. Vaught loaded the bases herself on a HBP and walk before Miller came back in, only to give up a single and survive to extras thanks to Jew's throw.

The difference between the two games was UB's offense, which obviously was strong enough to build that 7-3 lead against Alabama State, but really came through in the eighth inning. After Jew was placed on second as a result of a rule in softball meant to encourage extra-inning scoring, Buffalo managed 4 runs on 3 hits, including 2 doubles, in the inning to take control. Alabama State would score once more, but Miller was able to finish things out.

I only haven't mentioned the errors because I couldn't figure out where to put them in, but UB committed six on the day. That needs to change. All 8 of Langlois runs against were earned, anyway, so they didn't really effect the 1-1 record on the day.

Offensively, senior Alexis Curtiss led the way, with UB's only two hits in the first game and a 3-5 performance with 2 runs and 2 RBI in the second. Barrow, Jew, and freshman Kenzie Koch all had three hits apiece and scored 6 combined runs while driving in 6, as well. UB as a team worked 6 walks to only 2 strikeouts in the win.

The Chick-Fil-A Invite continues tomorrow with the Bulls taking on North Florida at 10:30 AM and Troy at 3:30 PM. At I write this, North Florida is closing out a 7-2 win against Western Kentucky and takes on Alabama State after this game. Troy has not played today but takes on Florida A&M this evening.

Go Bulls!