May 10, 2014
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AKRON, Ohio -- After 19 long years, the 'Cats have finally been crowned champions again.
The No. 5-seeded Ohio University softball team (32-24), won the 2014 Mid-American Conference Tournament Championship and secured the league's automatic bid to the 2014 NCAA Tournament by way of a 4-0 victory over No. 2-seeded Buffalo (30-22) on Saturday (May 10) at Firestone Stadium.
The Bobcats won their first-ever conference tournament championship and advance to the national postseason tournament for the first time since 1995.
"It sounds so good when it's said," smiled sixth-year head coach Jodi Hermanek. "I'm extremely proud of the work by these athletes and the team unity that was out here and displayed for four games in a row. I can't tell you enough how this experience is program-changing. Give it up to the girls. They played so hard."
Ohio will learn its NCAA Tournament seeding and destination on Sunday (May 11) at 10 p.m. ET on the ESPNU Selection Show. The NCAA Tournament is made up of a field of 64 teams -- including 32 conference champions and 32 at-large bids. The tournament begins with 16 four-team double-elimination regionals held at campus sites (May 16-18). The 16 regional champions advance to the best-of-three Super Regionals, which will also be held at eight campus sites (May 22-25). The eight Super Regional champions punch tickets to the 2014 NCAA Women's College World Series, which will run May 29 to June 4 at ASA Hall of Fame Stadium - OGE Energy Field in Oklahoma City, Okla.
The Bobcats went a perfect 4-0 in the double elimination MAC Tournament, opening the week with a 2-1 victory over No. 4-seeded Kent State on Wednesday (May 7), followed by a 3-0 blanking of MAC regular season champion Ball State on Thursday (May 8). Ohio reached the MAC Championship for the second time in four years under Hermanek by way of a 2-0 triumph over Buffalo in the winner's bracket final.
Sophomore pitcher Savannah Jo Dorsey (Grove City, Ohio) earned 2014 MAC Tournament MVP honors with one of the most dominating weeks in the circle in league tournament history. She went 4-0 with four complete games and three straight shutouts -- including a perfect game on Thursday against Ball State and a 13-inning shutout on Friday against Buffalo. She fanned 46 while allowing only one earned run on 18 hits and six walks and limiting opposing batters to a .153 ERA.
"It's amazing, but we still have more to do," said Dorsey. "We knew that we'd come out here as a team and push through everything that we had to and all the adversity and everything that came."
Dorsey has collected 10 or more strikeouts 12 times in 2014 -- including each of her last five starts. The Second Team All-MAC selection ran her school-record single-season strikeout total to 290, which ranks as the eighth-most in a single season in conference history. Dorsey's 27 complete games ties her with Annie Hare (1995) for the single-season school record while her eight shutouts match her with Hare (1995) and Molly Wagner (1995) for the single-season school record. The sophomore's 474 career strikeouts rank as the second-most in school history.
Junior Dakota Pyles (Galloway, Ohio) and senior Alyssa Wolfe (Junction City, Ohio) joined Dorsey on the All-MAC Tournament Team. Pyles led the 'Cats at the plate, hitting a team-best .538 with a team-high seven hits -- including the game-winning two-run home run in the top of the 13th inning on Friday in the winner's bracket final against Buffalo. Wolfe hit .400 with four hits and made several outstanding catches in center field -- including the game-saving grab that sealed Dorsey's perfect game while leaning back against the Firestone Stadium fence on Thursday against Ball State.
Ohio got its final march to a championship started in the bottom of the second inning on Saturday against Buffalo. Junior Adrienne Gebele (Annapolis, Md.) got things rolling with a one-out single through the left side. After freshman Madison Claytor (Alpharetta, Ga.) followed by coaxing a walk, Pyles hit a single back up the middle one out later to fill the bases with Bobcats. Wolfe put Ohio in front by drawing a free pass to bump home Gebele and give the 'Cats a 1-0 lead.
The Bobcats broke the game open with a three-run fifth. Dorsey helped herself out by crushing a one-out solo shot over the left field fence to increase Ohio's lead to 2-0 -- her sixth dinger of the year. Gebele kept the hit parade going, smacking a base hit through the left side. After senior Erin Lashley (Pickerington, Ohio) entered the game to pinch run for Gebele, Claytor sent a double down the left field line to put two in scoring position. Senior Alexandria Basquez (Elk Grove, Calif.) lifted a sacrifice fly to right, allowing Lashley to tag up and score Ohio's third run. Claytor scampered home on a throwing error on the play to make it a 4-0 ballgame.
That was all the run support Dorsey needed, as she forced Buffalo to strand seven runners on base.
Offensively, Gebele and freshman Taylor Saxton (Circleville, Ohio) led the Bobcats with two hits apiece.