Junior second baseman Maddy Labrador led Ball State softball (17-17, 2-1 MAC) this weekend as it opened up Mid-American Conference play.

Going 2-1 at Buffalo (5-24, 1-2 MAC), the Cardinals are using the three-game series to their advantage as they progress into league play.

“It’s definitely progress,” head coach Megan Ciolli Bartlett said. “Maddy Labrador had a phenomenal weekend for us in that one spot. However, concerning everything else, it was progress.”

Labrador finished the three-game series with eight hits, including three doubles and a home run, and four RBIs.

Labrador started the series with a leadoff home run in the first game Friday. Outscoring the Bulls 15-1 (6-0, 9-1) in Friday’s double-header, the Cardinals were in good standing until Sunday’s game.

“We’ve got to have a more consistent approach,” Ciolli Bartlett said. “The results just have to be more consistent.”

Labrador started the second game right where she left off, doubling down the right field line in the first at-bat of the game for the Cardinals. Labrador didn’t stop there, going 3-4 at the plate in the third game on Sunday morning.

Labrador’s performance at the plate was not enough to give Ball State another win, as they dropped the third game to Buffalo 7-4.

“We still have to be sharper in all aspects,” Ciolli Bartlett said. “We did not throw well today and did not defend well. Other than Maddy going 3-4 and Rachel Houck going 2-4, our offense didn’t do well either.”

After a pair of runs on Sunday, sophomore catcher Olivia Huffman finished the weekend with a team-high five runs scored. She also tied Labrador for a team-high honors with a .667 on-base percentage by recording a pair of RBI hits and four walks in the series.

Ball State plays at Indiana State on Wednesday. Ciolli Bartlett is using this game as preparation for when the Cardinals continue MAC play against Miami this weekend.

“We need to sharpen up on Wednesday and get ready to go this weekend,” Ciolli Bartlett said. “Miami is an excellent team and are always tough in our conference.”

The first pitch is set for 5 p.m. Wednesday at Indiana State. The team will go on to host Miami (17-11, 3-0 MAC) this weekend as it continues MAC play.

“We need to compete hard and are going to have to make Miami’s hitters work,” Ciolli Bartlett said. “If we hit how we’re capable, we’re an extraordinary tough team to beat. We just have to make sure we’re staying focused and are competing on every single pitch.”