ATHENS, Ohio— The Ohio softball team (13-12) opened Mid-American Conference play Friday afternoon with a doubleheader against MAC West foe, Central Michigan (9-14). The Bobcats took the first game of the series, 4-3, while downing CMU in the second game, 8-5.
"Opening the door to conference in a good way is one thing, but opening it in the first innings is even bigger," head coach Jodi Hermanek said. "So, just huge; I'm really impressed with the way we came out today and the energy following up with a production. They're on a different wire this morning for pregame and that's the wire I want to see all the time. I'm just really proud of their effort."
GAME ONE: Ohio 4, CMU 3
CMU attempted to strike first, but the Bobcats held them. Leadoff Lacy Tolfree walked, advanced to second on a sacrifice bunt by Sara Hansen and stole third on a passed ball; Tolfree was stranded after freshman Katie Yun (North Canton, Ohio) caught an infield fly from Morgan Gardner.
Senior Mikayla Cooper (Delaware, Ohio) led off the bottom of the first with a bomb over the left center field fence, putting Ohio up 1-0 with no outs. Junior Alex Day (Hilliard, Ohio) stepped up to the plate, and reached second on an error. Yun scored Day with a triple to deep right field, quickly followed by an RBI double from Junior Natalie Alvarez (Long Beach, Calif.). CMU responded to the Bobcats' hot bats with a pitching change. Alvarez advanced to third on a sacrifice fly from redshirt junior Michaela Dorsey and the inning ended with a ground out to third by MacKenzie Brunswick (Bellefontaine, Ohio), however the Bobcats would go to the second leading 3-0.
CMU's Shaidan Knapp lead off the second inning with a walk and attempted to steal second, but a solid throw by Alvarez beat her to the bag. Maison Kalina grabbed the Chippewas' first hit of the game with two outs. However, she would nont score.
In the bottom of the second inning, redshirt senior Taylor Saxton (Circleville, Ohio) singled up the middle and quickly stole second and third, sliding in safely both times. She scored on a sacrifice fly from Cooper, bringing the score to 4-0.
After a scoreless third inning, CMU's Knapp scored their first run of the game with a solo homerun over the center field fence. Ohio regrouped and responded, retiring the next three batters.
Neither team scored until Kayla Noch smacked a two-run homerun over the left field fence in the top of the seventh, cutting the Bobcat's lead to one. Sophomore Kendall Meeks (Guysville, Ohio) entered the game, making quick work of the next three batters, giving Ohio the 4-3 victory.
"It feels great, it really sets the tone for how the year is going to go for us. It's hard, because we lost a great pitcher last season and we lost a great catcher. So bouncing back from that, especially after getting second place last year, it's going to be nice for us to come back hard and come back fighting and get the MAC title we wanted," said Michaela Dorsey (Grove City, Ohio).
In the circle, Madi McCrady (Brimfield, Ohio) pitched six innings, allowing three runs on eight hits and striking out four. Meeks finished the final inning, facing three batters and striking out one.
At the plate, Day lead the way going 2-for-3. Cooper went 1-for-2 with a homerun and two RBI, while Yun and Alvarez had an RBI each.
GAME TWO: Ohio 8, CMU 5
The Chippewas scored first in the top of the first inning, capitalizing on a sacrifice fly to right field. The Bobcats answered with two homeruns over the right field fence from Cooper and Day. With two outs, sophomore Desirea Villanueva (Surrey, British Columbia) hit a line-drive single to left field and Dorsey scored from second. Another RBI single put Ohio ahead 4-1 forcing CMU to change their pitcher.
Senior Danielle Stiene (Loveland, Ohio) had a one, two, three inning with two strikeouts. In the bottom of the second with two outs, Alvarez smoked a single off of CMU's first baseman's glove, allowing Yun to advance to third. Dorsey drilled a double to left center, scoring Yun, giving the Bobcats a 5-1 lead after two innings.
After a scoreless third inning for both teams, the Bobcats put runners of first and second before CMU switched pitchers. Brunswick loaded the bases with a single up the middle and two outs, but they were unable to put any more runs on the board.
CMU's Allison Curtis hit a double with one out in the top of the fifth and scored off of a single from pinch hitter Abigail Niehaus. Underwood advanced Niehaus to second, followed by a hit from Gardner that scored two runs. Gardner scored off of a single hit up the middle, tying the game 5-5. Stiene fought back, striking out the final batter of the inning, sending the game to the bottom of the fifth with the game tied at 5-5.
Ohio held the Chippewas in the top of the sixth. With Day on second, Alvarez hit an RBI double and the Bobcats reclaimed the lead. Dorsey followed up with a standup double and pinch runner Holland scored. After another pitching change by CMU, Brunswick hit a single and advanced Dorsey to third. The Bobcats grabbed another run after a small blooper from Allie Englant (Long Beach, Calif.) scored Dorsey, giving Ohio a 8-5 lead going into the seventh inning.
Stiene finished the game with another one, two, three inning, sending the Bobcats home with an 8-5 victory.
In the circle, Stiene threw all seven innings. She struck out seven, walked two and gave up three earned runs.
At the plate, Dorsey led the team with a 4-for-4 including two doubles and two RBI. Cooper followed with a 2-for-4 day with a homerun and an RBI and Englant finished the game with two RBI.
Ohio will face CMU again tomorrow at 12 p.m. at the OSF. Then on Tuesday, they will play Pittsburgh at 5 p.m. at the OSF as well.