JACKSONVILLE, FL - Behind 6.1 brilliant shutout innings from sophomore Tori Speckman, the University at Buffalo softball team won its season open over St. Louis, 6-4, in the first game of the Wingate by Wyndham Opening Weekend Tournament at Jacksonville University. The victory was UB's first to open a season since 2006. The Bulls concluded play on Friday with a 6-2 loss to the host Jacksonville Dolphins.
The Bulls got out to a quick start in the morning session against St Louis, scoring a run in the bottom of the first inning. Senior Kristin Waldron picked up a one-out single and advanced to second on a wild pitch. Waldron moved to third after back-to-back walks and was driven in on a sacrifice fly from junior newcomer Caitlin Dekker.
The score remained 1-0 into the fourth when sophomore Holly Luciano reached on a leadoff bunt and ultimately scored following a St. Louis error. UB's offense continued to pick up in the fifth inning when it exploded for four runs. Freshman Karly Nevez reached base on a one-out walk and then moved to third as Waldron reached on an error. Nevez would come in to score during the next at bat as fellow freshman Alexis Curtiss reached on a fielder's choice. Luciano would hit an infield single, which loaded the bases for Dekker. Dekker again responded with a double to left field, scoring Waldron and Curtiss. The Bulls tacked on another run as junior Jessica Griffin singled to center, driving in Luciano.
St. Louis would fight back, scoring four runs in the top of the sixth, all of those coming off reliever Haylee Land before UB would reinsert Speckman into the lineup. Speckman came in to finish the sixth and pitch a perfect seventh inning, including a pair of strikeouts for the win.
In all, Speckman allowed just one hit, while striking out eight St. Louis batters. Luciano finished the game a perfect 2-for-2 from the plate, while scoring two runs. Three other players all picked up hits, while Dekker finished with three runs batted in and Griffin with two.
In the afternoon game against Jacksonville, Land picked up the start for the Bulls and allowed four runs in the bottom of the first, however just two of them were earned. The Bulls cut the early lead in half in the top of the third inning as they used run-scoring singles from Luciano and Dekker to pull within 4-2. However, Jacksonville responded with single runs in the bottom of the third and sixth for the final margin of victory.
The Bulls continue play tomorrow as they play two more games down in Jacksonville. UB meets UNC-Greensboro at 9:30 am and follows that up with an 11:45 am contest against Virginia Tech.