MADEIRA BEACH, Fla. – Led by stellar pitching performances from both senior Danielle Stiene and freshman Madi McCrady, the Ohio softball team (2-0) opened the 2018 season with two victories during the first day of the EMU Madeira Beach Invitational. The Bobcats opened up the day with a 4-0 win over Virginia (2-5) and then followed that up by defeating UNC Greensboro (4-2), 5-2.
GAME ONE: Ohio 4, Virginia 0
Senior Mikayla Cooper (Delaware, Ohio) got the hitting going for the Bobcats in the top of the first inning when she recorded a two-out double to center field, however the Bobcats would not score and would go to the bottom of the frame scoreless.
Virginia would try to strike first in the bottom of the frame when Allison Davis would lead the inning off with a double down the line, then moving to third on a fielding error. However, starting pitcher, Stiene (Loveland, Ohio), would dig in and get the next three Cavilers to strike out swinging, ending the threat.
In the second inning, junior Deanna Cole (Akron, Ohio) would walk to reach first and then move to second on a ground out, but would be unable to score, keeping the game scoreless. Then in the bottom of the inning, Stiene would sending the Virginia batters down in order, sending the game to the third inning tied at 0-0.
In the top of the third inning, the Bobcats would final strike. Redshirt senior Taylor Saxton (Circleville, Ohio) would lead the inning off with a single to the short stop. The next batter, junior Alex Day (Hilliard, Ohio), would take the second pitch that she saw and fire it over the left center wall, clearing the bases and putting Ohio up 2-0 with no outs. The Bobcats would try to add on when with two outs, junior Morgan Geno (Chillicothe, Ohio) would single up the middle, followed by freshman Katie Yun (North Canton, Ohio), you recorded her first career hit with a single to left field. However, the Bobcats would not add on and Ohio would go to the bottom of the third with a 3-0 lead.
Virginia would to answer in the bottom of the frame, when with one out, Kate Covington would single to left field, followed by two straight walks from Davis and Olivia Gott, loading the bases with one out. Stiene would once again get the better of the Cavalier batters, getting a strikeout and a lineout to end the inning and hold the Bobcats' 2-0 lead after three innings.
After an uneventful fourth inning from both teams, the Bobcats would start to get the bats going again in the top of the fifth inning. Freshman Allie Englant (Long Beach, Calif.) would register her first career hit with a single up the middle, however she would be removed on the bases when Cooper reached on a fielder's choice and then advanced to second. Cooper would then move to third on Geno's second base hit of the day, placing runners on first and third with one out. Sophomore Alexa Holland (Rochester, Ind.) would enter the game to pinch run for Geno and advance to second after Cole drew a two-out walk. Unfortunately, the Virginia defense would get the next Bobcat to ground out, ending the Ohio threat.
After Virginia was once again held scoreless in the bottom of the fifth inning, the Bobcats would start off to top of the sixth with a single up the middle from junior MacKenzie Brunswick (Bellefontaine, Ohio). Saxton would then single through the right side and then advance to second when Brunswick attempted to reach third. Then with one out, Day demolished a triple to right field, scoring Saxton and putting the Bobcats up 3-0. Englant would then reach on an error by the shortstop and then steal the first base of her career, putting runners on second and third with one out. However, the Virginia defense would get the Bobcats to hit into their next two outs, ending the inning, but increasing the Bobcats' lead to 3-0.
In the bottom of the sixth inning, with one out, Virginia would get a runner on when Danni Ingraham singled through the left side, putting a runner on. After the Ohio defense recorded the second out, freshman catcher Brooke Rice (Mason, Ohio) would pick off Ingraham as she led-off first, ending the inning.
In the top of the seventh, the Bobcats would add on. Yun would record her second hit of the game and then would advance to third when Cole double down the right field line, later scoring on the play after a throwing error, giving the Bobcats a 4-0 lead with a runner on second and no outs. However, the Virginia defense would be able to get the next three Bobcat outs, sending the game to the bottom of the seventh with Ohio leading, 4-0.
In the bottom of the seventh, Stiene would get the first batter to fly out. Then with that one out, Janelle Zellars would single to right field. However, the Bobcat defense would hold strong, forcing a fielder's choice and ending the game with a running catch from Saxton at second, ending the game and giving Ohio the 4-0 victory.
At the plate, the Bobcats would register four runs on 14 hits. Leading the way was Day who went 2-for-4 with a homerun, triple, three RBI and a run scored. Saxton went 2-for-4 with two runs scored, while Yun also went 2-for-4 with a run score. Geno added two more hits for Ohio, while Englant, Cooper, Cole and Brunswick all registered one hit for Ohio.
In the circle, Stiene (1-0) was dominate, pitching seven innings and did not allow a run on four hits, while walking three and striking out nine.
GAME TWO: Ohio 5, UNCG 2
The Bobcats opened the second game of the day as the home team against UNCG. In the top of the first inning, UNCG leadoff batter, Alexis Overdiep singled and then advanced to second on a ground out at first. With one out, freshman pitcher Madi McCrady (Brimfield, Ohio) would register her first career strikeout to retire the batter. Then with two outs and runner on first and second, McCrady would strike out the next batter swinging to send the frame.
In the bottom of the first inning, Cooper would draw a two out walk and then advance to second when Geno singled to left field, putting runners on first and second. However, the UNCG defense would get the next batter out, ending the Ohio threat.
The top of the third inning saw UNCG take the lead when after the leadoff batter struck out, Overdiep would single to center and then advance to second when Makenna Matthijs drew a walk. Gabi Cubbage would then single up the middle to load the bases with one out. McCrady would then strike out the next batter for the second out, however would throw a wild pitch, allowing Overdiep to score from third. McCrady would then strike out the final batter of the inning, but not before UNCG took a 1-0 lead.
After the Bobcats went down in order in the bottom of the third. UNCG would threaten again in the top of the fourth. With two outs, Emily Acquaviva would draw a walk, however McCrady would register another strikeout, ending the inning with UNCG leading 1-0.
The Bobcats would tie it up immediately in the bottom of the fourth, with Cooper took the first pitch she saw and smashed it to right center for her first home run of the season, tying the game at 1-1.
The top of the fifth inning would see UNCG retake the lead with Overdiep leading off with a walk. After the Bobcats' defense would get the next two batters out, Marisa Sholtes would double to right field, scoring Overdiep. With a runner on second and two outs, the Ohio defense would get the final batter of the frame to file out, going to the bottom of the fifth with the Spartans leading 2-1.
The Bobcats would respond in the bottom of the fifth inning when Brunswick led off with a double to left field. She would then move to third when with one out, Saxton would double to the left field line, placing runners on second and third. Then with two outs, Brunswick would score on a wild pitch, moving Saxton to third and tying the game at 2-2. Moments later, Englant would single up the middle, scoring Saxton and giving Ohio their first lead of the game. Englant would then move to second on a passed ball and then move to third when Cooper singled to the shortstop. After a pitching change by UNCG, Geno was hit by a pitch to load the bases with two outs. Yun would then draw a bases loaded walk, scoring Englant. The Spartan defense would finally be able to retire the final Bobcat batter, but Ohio would have taken a 4-2 at the end of the fifth.
UNCG attempted to cut into the Ohio lead in the top of the sixth inning when with one out, Jasmine Palmer singled to right field, however, McCrady would get the next two Spartan batters to strikeout swinging, sending the game with to the bottom of the sixth with Ohio still leading 4-2.
The Bobcats added on in the bottom of the sixth inning when Brunswick led off with a double to left field. She then moved to third on a wild pitch. After another pitching change for UNCG, the Spartans would register one out, but Brunswick would score a batter later on another wild pitch. UNCG would get the next two Bobcat batters to ground out to end the inning with the Bobcats now leading 5-2.
UNCG attempted to mount a comeback in the top of the seventh inning. After the leadoff batter ground out, Matthijas would walk, she would however be throw out at second when Cubbage reached on a fielder's choice. Then with two outs, Sholtes would single to put runners on first and second. However, McCrady would register her 12th and final strikeout of the day, sending the Bobcats home with the 5-2 victory.
At the plate, the Bobcats scored five runs on seven hits, with three doubles and a home run. Leading the way was Brunswick who went 2-for-3 with two doubles and two runs scored. Cooper went 2-for-2 with a homerun, a walk, RBI and a run scored. Englant went 1-for-3 with an RBI and a run scored, while Saxton registered a double and Geno a single. Yun also registered an RBI in the game.
In the circle, McCrady's (1-0) Bobcat debut was solid, going seven innings, allowing two runs on six hits. She walked four batters while striking out 12.
The Bobcats return to day two of the 2018 EMU Madeira Beach Invitational on Saturday, Feb. 17 when the Bobcats face off against Lipscomb at 9 a.m., followed by a game against UMass set for 1:30 p.m.