ATHENS, Ohio – Ohio Softball played the first two games of a six-game homestand on Friday, handily defeating the Northern Illinois Huskies in an afternoon doubleheader. The Bobcats earned a 4-1 win in the first game of the afternoon before lighting up the scoreboard in the second, winning by a count of 9-3.
Ohio’s bats were alive and well in the two games, belting out a combined 13 runs and 23 hits. Three Bobcats collected four hits apiece in the two contests, as Lauren Gellerman, Alexandria Basquez and Jenna Giusti were all on fire from the batter’s box. Giusti drove in four runs on the afternoon while Gellerman was not far behind, bringing in three of her own.
Lauren McClary (Pasadena, Texas) had a tremendous day from the pitching circle, starting both games and throwing a total of 13 innings. The freshman struck out 15 batters while only allowing seven hits and five walks throughout the two games, netting a WHIP of 0.92 on Friday. McClary picked up her 10th and 11th wins in the games, with the first contest of the afternoon counting as her 10th complete game of the season. With 157 strikeouts on the season, McClary ranks third in program history for K’s in one year.
In the first game of the day, the teams traded scoreless first innings before Ohio (18-23, 7-5 MAC) jumped out to a 3-0 lead in the bottom of the second. Giusti (Danville, Calif.) jumped on a fastball, driving it deep to left field. As the ball cleared the fence with plenty of room to spare, Tessa Bailey (Acworth, Ga.) and Raven King (Alpine, Utah) made their way home. The blast was Giusti’s second of the season.
Brooke Morgart (Wayne, Ohio) was able to force the infield into committing an error in the bottom of the next frame, reaching base. She was advanced to second when Alexis Joseph (Alvin, Texas) dropped down a sacrifice to third base. With two outs in the inning, Gellerman (San Diego, Calif.) stepped up to the plate and drove a seeing-eye single right up the middle to bring in Ohio’s fourth run of the afternoon.
Northern Illinois (18-26, 6-8 MAC) was able to get on the scoreboard in the top of the sixth inning, plating its first run when Shelby Miller singled up the middle to drive in Nicole Gremillion. The Huskies threatened in the top of the seventh inning, getting one runner on base before McClary put the game away with a strikeout and a fielder’s choice.
Ohio got off to a solid start in the second game as well, putting one run on the board in the bottom of the first inning. Jillian Van Wagnen (Lorain, Ohio) led off with a bunt single and was advanced to second by Morgart. Joseph hit a double to center field, bringing in the first run of the contest.
The Bobcats put together a big offensive outburst in the bottom of the third inning, plating four more runs. With Joseph on second and Morgart on third, Gellerman launched a double to right center field, bringing in two runs. Basquez (Elk Grove, Calif.) then brought in Ohio’s fourth run of the game (third of the inning) with a sharply-hit single to third base. She later scored the final run of the inning, coming around when Alyssa Wolfe (Junction City, Ohio) hit a sharp shot to the second baseman which led to her committing an error.
NIU pulled within four runs in the top of the sixth inning, scoring three times to shrink the deficit. Ohio was then able to remove all doubt from the game by scoring two in the bottom of the sixth and having Kaylin Clarke (North Royalton, Ohio) slam the door with a nearly perfect seventh inning.
Dakota Pyles (Galloway, Ohio) had one of the best outings of her young career during the late stages of the second game, going 2-for-2 with one double and one RBI in a substitute role.