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Ohio infielder/designated player, Annalia Paoli (3), throws the ball during a game against Western Michigan at Ohio Softball Field, April 21, 2024, in Athens.

Softball: Ohio heads north to Buffalo with hopes of improving MAC standing

Fresh off a rousing weekend series win over Western Michigan, Ohio (23-21, 11-8 MAC) will begin the lighter portion of its schedule to close the season. First on that list is Buffalo (15-25, 7-12 MAC). The two teams are coming to play on the heels of big series victories with Buffalo taking two of three from Northern Illinois over the weekend. Ohio is looking to reaffirm its spot in the MAC standings with two or three wins in the series with hopes of moving up in the six-team MAC Tournament field. Entering the weekend, Buffalo is two games back of the sixth place team, Kent State. 

Series information: 

Opponent: Buffalo Bulls

Location: Nan Harvey Field, Buffalo New York

Dates and times: Game 1 is on Friday, April 26 at 3 p.m., Game 2 is on Saturday, April 27 at 1 p.m. with Game 3 starting 30 minutes after the conclusion of Game 2

Streaming will be on the Buffalo Athletics YouTube channel for all three games

Live stats will be here for Game 1, here for Game 2 and here for Game 3

Scouting Buffalo: 

Head coach: Mike Ruechel, 5th season

Individual statistical leaders

Batting average: Madison Fernimen (.294)

Hits: Fernimen (37)

Runs: Fernimen (25)

Home runs: Mia Mitchell (7)

RBI: Alexis Lucyshyn (24)

On-base percentage: Fernimen (.385)

Innings pitched: Lucyshyn (116.1)

ERA: Lucyshyn (3.61)

Strikeouts: Lucyshyn (134)


Buffalo is a team that is rather unassuming, at least statistically. After a 3-1 start to MAC play, it has stumbled to the tune of a 4-11 mark in its last 15 conference games. Some of the skid can be attributed to the quality of competition it has played as two of its wins to begin conference play came against Bowling Green, the worst team in the MAC with a 2-15 record. However, Buffalo has fallen upon tough times as a program. In his fifth season, Mike Ruechel entered the year with the worst winning percentage of any coach in program history. Additionally, Buffalo has never made it to the NCAA Tournament as a member of Division I. 

That being said, Buffalo does have a competitive roster. It does not have anyone leading in any statistical categories, but it is led by dominant two-way stay Alexis Lucyshyn. She leads the team in RBI with 24. Overall, the offense for Buffalo is nothing spectacular, but has gone through some stretches during recent weeks where it exploded for some powerful offense. 

The main culprit of the losing ways recently has been the pitching staff for Buffalo. One thing it does well is keep the ball in the yard as it has given up only 18 home runs on the season, the best mark in the conference. However, it has only been average at just about every other stat. Lucyshyn has the second-most strikeouts in the conference as she sits at 134. Outside of her, Buffalo has few reliable options to eat innings. 

Ohio’s rousing weekend: 

Over the course of the weekend, it felt like it was time for Ohio to show its true colors against a talented Western Michigan team. For the first game and a half of the doubleheader on Saturday, Ohio looked lifeless and flat. Then, a switch flipped and Ohio ended up taking two of three games with a walk-off home run boosting it to one win and a flurry of runs giving it another. 

Heading into its final stretch of the season, it will face significantly weaker competition. The best remaining team on the docket for Ohio is Akron, who sits at 8-10 in MAC play. With some weaker opponents on deck, Ohio can get some more confidence heading into the MAC Tournament. The boost to morale can be the final push Ohio needs to make a deep run at defeating Miami, the clear-cut favorite in the conference.

That push begins with a series against Buffalo. The teams have played over 50 times with Ohio winning 40 of those meetings. However, last season, Buffalo took two out of the three games in Athens. Furthermore, Ohio has dropped six of the last ten against Buffalo after winning 11 straight over the course of a few years. Ohio will need to exercise some demons this weekend to keep climbing the standings. 


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