Rocket softball dominate Buffalo

Rachel Nearhoof /IC

Rachel Nearhoof /IC

Rachel Nearhoof /IC

Jackson Rogers, Associate Sports Editor

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The University of Toledo softball team (14-23, 2-3 MAC) dominated the University at Buffalo (6-27, 2-3 MAC) to collect its first two victories in Mid-American Conference play in its home opener at Scott Park.

First-year Alissa Noble (3-6) collected the win in Game 1 after throwing four innings of relief work. Noble did not permit any runs or hits, while retiring three and walking one in the contest. Second-year Heather Webb allowed three runs on eight hits and struck out three in three frames.

Toledo 6, Buffalo 3

In the first game of the doubleheader, the Rocket offense was led by fourth-year second-baseman Chandler Rice, who went 3-for-4 with two runs scored and two RBI. Rice also tallied two doubles, which makes her the sole record holder at Toledo with 44 career doubles.

UB jumped on the board first with a two-run double in the top of the second inning.

Toledo’s offense got to work in the bottom of the second, thanks to a hit batter and an infield single by fourth-year catcher Ashley Maynard. Second-year shortstop Megan Choate drove an RBI single to left-center to score first-year infielder Samantha Golden from second and put UT on the board, 2-1.

Buffalo put two runners aboard in the third thanks to consecutive singles to center field. The Bulls team added one to its scoreboard total after an RBI single.

The Rockets answered back with a run of their own when fourth-year right-fielder Celeste Fidge executed a sacrifice fly that allowed Rice to cross the plate.

Toledo loaded the bases in the bottom of the fourth off a hit batter, fielder’s choice and Buffalo fielding error. Rice’s RBI double to right scored Maynard and Choate to give UT its first lead of the game, 4-3. Third-year centerfielder Ashley Rausch knocked in the last two runs on her single to center.

Toledo 7, Buffalo 0

Seven Rockets contributed at least one hit in the nightcap. Fidge (2-for-4), Maynard (2-for-2), third-year left-fielder Kylie Gross (2-for-4) and third-year first baseman Samantha Showalter (2-for-3) each recorded a pair of hits and a run scored.

UT managed the game’s initial scoring threat during the bottom of the second after Maynard and Choate both got on with two-out singles. Gross drove a single down the left field line off the first pitch that allowed Choate and Maynard to score a pair of runs. Rice’s RBI single to right brought home Gross and closed out the inning’s scoring.

Toledo added more to its total in the third after third-year utility player Courtney Heinritz grounded out to second, which permitted Showalter to score. Maynard followed with a two-out single through the left side to bring home Fidge and bring UT’s lead to 5-0.

The midnight blue and gold added valuable insurance on the board in the fourth frame. With Rausch and Showalter on base following an infield single and a fielder’s choice, respectively, a double down the right field line by Fidge brought home UT’s sixth and seventh tallies.

Second-year right-hand pitcher Kailey Minarchick’s no-hitter was spoiled with one down in the top of the sixth as the Bulls connected on two singles. Toledo finished off the two-hit shutout by getting Scott out on a fielder’s choice and by Minarchick getting her third strikeout.

Rice climbed into first place all-time at Toledo with 317 total bases in her career.

Toledo 5, Buffalo 1

In Sunday’s series finale, the Rockets never trailed and defeated Buffalo, 5-1, at Scott Park to complete a weekend sweep.

Rausch led the UT offense by going 2-for-3 with a double and two runs scored. Choate (2-for-3) also tallied a pair of hits and a run scored. Rice and Showalter each knocked in a tally, while also scoring a run. Rice improved her career-high hitting streak to 15 games.

In the circle, Minarchick (5-8) earned the victory by allowing one run on six hits and zero walks in four innings of work. Noble notched her first save of the season after allowing just one baserunner on a hit-by-pitch in three innings of relief work.

“If we show up and compete in every game, then we can put ourselves in position to win,” said head coach Kristen Butler. “We did a great job of executing our game plan this weekend. We have to keep our focus because we turn around and play EMU on Tuesday.”

Toledo took a quick 2-0 lead in the bottom of the first inning. Rice led off the game with a double to left-center and was soon followed by Rausch, who reached on a single up the middle. Fidge knocked in the first run on an RBI single to left. A fielding error by the Bulls’ left fielder advanced Fidge to second and allowed Rausch to cross the plate.

Another two-run inning in the UT third extended the lead to 4-0. Rausch drove a leadoff double to left-center to get the Rockets into business. Showalter immediately followed with an identical double to bring home Rausch.

Buffalo loaded the bases on consecutive singles and a fielder’s choice in the fourth and finally crossed the plate with the help of a Toledo fielding error.

Choate gave UT a 5-1 advantage by plating a run in the fifth on a fielding error by Buffalo’s shortstop.

The Rockets will return to Scott Park on April 4 when they host Eastern Michigan University in a doubleheader at 1 p.m.

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Rocket softball dominate Buffalo