AKRON, Ohio – The Ohio University softball team (28-28) fought through a Kent State comeback and a rain delay in excess of five hours on Friday night to advance in the Mid-American Conference Tournament for the second straight day. The Bobcats took down the No. 2 seeded Golden Flashes, 5-4, to advance to play regular-season MAC champion Ball State on Saturday.
Ohio leapt out to an early 2-0 lead in the first inning but found itself looking up at a 4-2 deficit midway through the contest. The Bobcats showed resilience, scoring three runs in the bottom of the fifth inning to take the ultimately decisive 5-4 lead.
Ohio 5, Kent State 4 WP: Lauren McClary (11-16) LP: Emma Johnson (20-12) S: None HR: None
Once Savannah Jo Dorsey (Grove City, Ohio) made quick work of the Kent State hitters in the top of the first inning, the Bobcat bats came alive in the bottom of the frame. Tessa Bailey (Acworth, Ga.) was plunked for the 14th time this season to lead off the inning before Erin Lashley (Pickerington, Ohio) won a seven-pitch battle with a looping single to shallow left field. Lauren Gellerman (San Diego, Calif.) then lost a 13-pitch duel with Kent State’s Emma Johnson, striking out to record Ohio’s first out of the game. Following one more strikeout, both Bailey and Lashley scored on an unusual circumstance. Adrienne Gebele (Annapolis, Md.) hit the ball with the handle of her bat, a play which caught Johnson by surprise. The pitcher overthrew first base, allowing two Ohio runs to score on her error.
Kent State threatened in the top of the third inning, advancing runners to second and third with just one out. Dorsey was able to pitch out of this jam, inducing a foul out to first by Kim Kirkpatrick before striking out Lauren Grimes looking on three straight pitches.
Abbey Ledford led off the top of the fourth inning with a sharp single through the right side of the infield, recording Kent State’s third hit of the afternoon. One out later, Michele Duffy walked, putting two runners on base. A deep fly out to left field by Erika Warren recorded the second out of the frame but advanced Ledford to third on the throw. With two outs, L. Kesterson roped a two-out, two-run triple to left center to tie the ballgame at two runs apiece.
Immediately following a pitching change, Jessacca Gironda then hit a single over the head of Ohio’s infield, bringing in a third run to score to give KSU its first lead of the day (3-2). The Golden Flashes plated one more run before the third out was recorded, scoring for the fourth time on the afternoon when Dani Ramos singled to right field to bring Gironda around to score.
Alyssa Wolfe (Junction City, Ohio) earned a clutch walk with one out in the bottom of the fifth inning to begin a rally for Ohio. She was followed by a deep double off of the left field wall by Bailey, a shot which put runners on second and third. Kaylin Clarke (North Royalton, Ohio) then stepped up in a pinch-hitting role and slammed a hard single to center field. Clarke’s 13th hit of the season brought around both runners to score, tying the game at four runs apiece.
Senior Chelsea Hortman (Cincinnati, Ohio) followed this up with an RBI single through the left side of the infield which brought Lashley around to score from second, reclaiming the lead for the ‘Cats at 5-4.
The game was interrupted for a rain delay as the teams were prepared to start the top of the sixth inning. Following a 329-minute delay, the game resumed with Ohio holding a 5-4 advantage.
Each pitcher made short work of her opposition upon the game getting back in action. Lauren McClary (Pasadena, Texas) retired Kent State’s first three hitters in order while Johnson struck out the Ohio side to bring the bottom of the sixth frame to an end.
McClary and the Ohio defense then set down Kent State in order in the top of the seventh to claim the 5-4 victory.
Ohio will next be in action on Saturday, May 11 vs. No. 1 seed Ball State. Time of the first pitch between the Bobcats and Cardinals is set for 11 a.m.