May 8, 2014
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AKRON, Ohio - Ohio University softball's sophomore pitcher Savannah Jo Dorsey (Grove City, Ohio) could not have picked a more perfect time to be, well, perfect.
The sophomore from Grove City, Ohio, forced Ball State's lineup to go 21 up, 21 down and she matched her career-high of 13 strikeouts for a third time this season as the No. 5-seeded Bobcats (30-24) toppled the No. 1-seeded Cardinals (33-18), 3-0, in a 2014 Mid-American Conference Tournament winner's bracket game on Thursday (May 8) at Firestone Stadium.
"It was awesome," said Dorsey of her perfect game. "We just had to attack everything. We know they're good hitters and have a very good offense, but we went in there knowing we could beat them."
After opening the weekend with a 2-1 win over Kent State on Wednesday (May 7), the 'Cats advance to the league tournament's winner's bracket final for the first time since 2011, where they will square off with No. 2-seeded Buffalo (29-20) on Friday (May 9) at 5 p.m. ET with a spot in the 2014 MAC title game on the line. The MAC regular season champion Cardinals drop down to the loser's bracket and will play an elimination game on Friday at 1:30 p.m. ET against the survivor of Thursday's 7:30 p.m. ET elimination game between No. 3-seeded Akron (27-15) and No. 7-seeded Northern Illinois (23-30).
"It was an exciting atmosphere to be a part of," said sixth-year head coach Jodi Hermanek. "It was a tremendous game defensively and offensively, and, for sure, with the battery having a shutout and a perfect game. I'm so excited to see them peak and rise to the occasion against an amazing offensive team."
Ohio's 30th victory of the 2014 season ranks as the second-most in school history behind the 1995 squad's 39.
"It's an awesome feeling," said senior Alyssa Wolfe (Junction City, Ohio) of her team being on the verge of a MAC title game berth. "We've known the whole year what we can do. Now, it's all finally coming together. I keep saying, as long as we have offense, defense and pitching together, we're going to be great."
Ball State boasted the MAC’s top offensive team and entered the tournament with the MAC Player of the Year and four other First Team All-MAC selections in its lineup, but Dorsey was locked in from the first batter of the game.
"Going into this weekend, I took the mentality of we haven't played this team before and this is a whole new start," said freshman catcher Madison Claytor (Alpharetta, Ga.), who caught Dorsey's perfect game. "I trusted all of her pitches, and she trusted me with what I had to call. I think just coming in and acting like this it's a fresh start and going right at the batters was really special for us today."
After retiring the first 18 Cardinals she faced, Dorsey struck out junior Hanne Stuedemann swinging and junior Loren Cihlar looking for the first two outs of the top of the seventh. Senior Jennifer Gilbert – the 2014 MAC Player of the Year – gave the ball a ride deep into center field, but Wolfe leaned back against the outfield fence to make a perfect-game saving catch to end the game.
Ohio jumped out to a 3-0 lead in the bottom of the first inning to give Dorsey all of the run support she needed, taking advantage of five hits and a Ball State miscue. Sophomore Amanda Dalton (Salem, Va.) - a First Team All-MAC pick - got things rolling by beating out an infield single to short, then advancing to third by way of a fielder's choice that put MAC All-Freshman Team selection Casie Hutchinson (Lebanon, Ohio) on base. Senior Alexandria Basquez (Elk Grove, Calif.) cashed in, blooping a single to right to score Dalton and give Ohio a 1-0 lead. Junior Adrienne Gebele (Annapolis, Md.) loaded the bases by beating out an infield single to short, setting the table for Dorsey to help her cause by lifting a sacrifice fly to left that allowed Hutchinson to tag up and score from third. The Bobcats increased their advantage to three runs when Claytor singled to right center and Basquez scampered home from second on a Ball State fielding error on the play.
Freshman Taylor Saxton (Circleville, Ohio) finished the game with a career-high three hits to lead Ohio offensively.