Ball State softball opened up Mid-American Conference play with a pair of victories against Buffalo Friday afternoon.
The Cardinals are now 17-16 (2-0 MAC) after the back-to-back wins over the Bulls (4-24, 0-2 MAC).
Junior second baseman Maddy Labrador started the first game with a lead-off home run to give Ball State a 1-0 lead.
The Cardinals didn't strike again until the fifth inning, when sophomore catcher Olivia Huffman led off with a walk against Buffalo right-handed pitcher Ally Power.
Huffman went on to steal second, while senior center fielder Rachel Houck drew a walk. Freshman third baseman Janae Hogg singled to left field to knock in Huffman to give the Cardinals a 2-0 lead.
Hogg continues to lead Ball State’s offense with a .368 batting average.
Ball State added four more runs in the top of the sixth. Freshman left fielder Haley Dominique started off the inning with a single to center field, followed by doubles from freshman right fielder Kennedy Wynn, junior short stop Brittany Hopper and Labrador.
Labrador and Hopper each had two RBIs, combining for three hits, while Hogg added an RBI of her own in the 6-0 win.
Ball State carried its momentum into the second game, beating Buffalo 9-1.
Labrador started the game off with a double to right field. Houck picked up her first hit of the day, advancing Labrador to third. Houck and Labrador then pulled off a double-steal to give the Cardinals an early 1-0 lead. Hogg then added her second RBI of the day with a single to left center to bring in Houck.
Freshman right-hander Alyssa Rothwell was on the mound for the Cardinals, allowing only one earned run. Rothwell picked up her third win of the season, pitching six innings and only allowing three hits.
Ball State gained that run back in the second inning with a pair of base hits from Hopper and Huffman.
The Cardinals scored again in the second inning and added four more in the fifth.
Junior first baseman Danae King hit her third home run of the season to start off the fifth, followed by a single to right field by Hogg to bring in Houck and Labrador, who both reached base on errors. Dominique added an RBI double to give the Cardinals a 7-1 lead headed into the sixth.
Ball State's offense wasn't done yet, as King and Huffman each added a double to allow Labrador another RBI single. Huffman finished the day with two RBIs, while Labrador picked up her third.
Hogg led the Cardinals with four RBIs and three hits on the day, while Labrador followed with three RBIs and five hits.
The Bulls stranded two on base in the bottom of the sixth to secure a 9-1 Cardinal victory.
Ball State closes out the three-game series against Buffalo at 9 a.m. Saturday at Nan Harvey Field.