Sophomore utility Aeshia Miles cheers on her team as her opponent attempts to tag her out in the game against Central Michigan on April 22 at the Varsity Softball Complex last season. Ball State softball will compete against Buffalo for the Mid-American Conference this weekend. Allye Clayton // DN File
PREVIEW: Ball State softball opens up MAC play at Buffalo
Ball State softball (15-16) turns its attention to the Mid-American Conference this weekend as the team travels to Buffalo (4-22) for a three-game series.
Entering MAC play on a four-game win streak, head coach Megan Ciolli Bartlett expects her team to make a name for itself early on.
“We have to create our own destiny against these teams,” Ciolli Bartlett said. “If we control the things that we can control and let our talent work, we’re going to be in good shape.”
Being familiar with conference opponents, Ciolli Bartlett knows what her team needs to focus on to prepare.
“As long as we feel like we’re in control of our bats when picking out good pitches and driving them, staying consistent on the mound and playing clean defense, I think the sky is the limit against these teams,” Ciolli Bartlett said. “We have a talented bunch who’s hungry and want to win.”
Ciolli Bartlett's experience as a coach will be important considering the team's youth. The Cardinals' roster features seven freshmen, including Janae Hogg, who leads the team with a .368 batting average.
“Now that we’re in league play, you move into, as far as practice goes, a little more maintenance mode,” Ciolli Bartlett said. “You don’t have the luxury of so many repetitions, so you’re trying to make sure you’re staying sharp on limited reps. We make the most of our time, but it’s definitely different.”
Last season, Buffalo won two of its three games against Ball State. This time around, Ciolli Bartlett is hoping to use the familiarity to her team’s advantage.
“Buffalo is super scrappy,” Ciolli Bartlett said. “They’re well-coached and are actually coached by one of my teammates when I played on the Chicago Bandits [of the National Pro Fastpitch League]. Trena [Peel] is an excellent coach and I can tell you, she is super aggressive and that’s how she trains her teams.”
The Cardinals begin league play at Buffalo Friday at Nan Harvey Field. They will play a double-header on Friday with the first pitch scheduled at 1 p.m. and close out the three-game series at 9 a.m. Saturday.