ATHENS, Ohio – With a seventh straight Mid-American Conference Tournament bid on the line, the Ohio University softball team (26-26, 9-12 MAC) stepped up in the clutch and secured a 7-3 win over visiting Central Michigan to ensure a postseason appearance.
Ohio fought back from two deficits on Saturday afternoon, digging out of 2-1 and 3-2 holes in the contest. The ‘Cats took the lead for good when Alexandria Basquez (Elk Grove, Calif.) drove a grand slam over the left field wall to take the game from a 3-3 tie in the bottom of the sixth inning to a 7-3 Bobcat advantage.
With the win, Ohio ensures that it will earn eight the No. 6, 7, or 8 seed in the upcoming MAC Tournament in Akron, Ohio. If Ohio finishes fifth, the ‘Cats will play the No. 5 seed on May 8 at 11 a.m. If Ohio finishes sixth or seventh, the ‘Cats will play at 1:30 p.m. on May 8.
Central Michigan threatened in the top of the first inning, getting one runner to second via an infield error and a steal. Sophomore pitcher Lauren McClary (Pasadena, Texas) was able to get out of the jam, however, neutralizing the threat to keep the Chippewas scoreless early.
Lauren Gellerman (San Diego, Calif.) got the ‘Cats on the board early, hitting a two-out home run to left field to give her team a 1-0 advantage. The home run was her league-leading 23rd of the season.
McClary hit her stride in the circle at this point, retiring nine straight batters to get through three scoreless and hitless innings. She ran into a rough patch in the top of the fourth inning, however, allowing the bases to get loaded with one out. McClary battled and struck out Katelyn Rentschler on a 3-2 count before Brittney Horan hit a two-run single to center field, giving the Chippewas their first advantage of the afternoon.
With one out in the bottom of the fourth frame, Ohio answered back via a Chelsea Hortman (Cincinnati, Ohio) home run to left center. The senior would end the day going 2-3 from the plate.
Horan came up huge once again for the Chippewas, hitting an RBI single up the middle with two outs to cap off a 15-pitch at bat in the top of the sixth inning. Pinch running Lauren Bowman had earlier advanced to second on a passed ball and ultimately scored on the single. Alyssa Wolfe (Junction City, Ohio) made a nearly perfect throw home which saw Gellerman apply the tag just a second too late to prevent the go-ahead run from crossing the plate.
Tessa Bailey (Acworth, Ga.) led off the bottom of the sixth with a sharp single to left field. One out later, Gellerman was intentionally walked for the second time of the game, putting runners on first and second. Hortman then notched her aforementioned second hit of the day, hitting a sharp one-hopper which was too hot for the second baseman to handle cleanly. The infield hit loaded the bases for Adrienne Gebele (Annapolis, Md.), who earned a bases-loaded walk to tie the game at 3-3. Basquez then stepped up to the plate and removed any doubt about the outcome, hitting a grand slam over the left field wall to give the ‘Cats a 7-3 lead they would not relinquish.
Ohio will next be in action on Sunday, May 5 vs. Central Michigan. First pitch between the Bobcats and Chippewas is slated for 1 p.m. at the Ohio Softball Field. Sunday’s game will serve as Ohio’s 2013 Senior Day. Fans can also bring in one canned food item to gain free admission to the game.