May 17, 2014
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LEXINGTON, Ky. - The Ohio University softball team's senior class of Alexandria Basquez (Elk Grove, Calif.), Chelsea Hortman (Cincinnati, Ohio), Erin Lashley (Pickerington, Ohio) and Alyssa Wolfe (Junction City, Ohio) defined a clear goal for themselves and their 14 younger teammates heading into the 2014 season: Leave A Legacy.
The Bobcats accomplished just that.
Ohio (32-26) saw its first trip to the national postseason in 19 years come to a close with a 5-1 loss to DePaul (42-10) on Saturday (May 17) in an NCAA Championship Lexington Regional elimination game at John Cropp Stadium.
The No. 4 regionally-seeded Bobcats finished 2014 with 32 victories - tying the 2001 squad for the second-most wins in a single season in program history.
"It's a tough day when your season ends, that's for sure," said sixth-year head coach Jodi Hermanek. "At the same time, there's a cross between the feelings, because we want to still be on that field competing, but so proud of everything that we have accomplished this season. I'm so proud of the history that this team has laid out for the Ohio University softball program. It makes us hungry for more."
Facing a 5-0 deficit heading into the top of the seventh inning and the prospect of being shutout for the fourth time in four NCAA Championship regional games in program history, Ohio decided to make history one last time in 2014.
Sophomore pitcher Savannah Jo Dorsey (Grove City, Ohio) got things started with a one-out double down the left field line. Lashley entered the game to pinch run for Dorsey and advanced to third by way of a wild pitch. After freshman Madison Claytor (Alpharetta, Ga.) coaxed a walk to put runners on the corners, junior Dakota Pyles (Galloway, Ohio) legged out an infield single that allowed Lashley to scamper home and give Ohio its first-ever run in NCAA postseason action.
"Just the mentality overall," said Dorsey of the team's never-give-up approach. "We kept saying, `have fun, have fun,' because it is a different stage, and it is fun just being out there. We like to say, 'put on a show.' There's no pressure, just trying to show off in front of the fans."
Ohio's senior class departs Athens having helped lead the Bobcats to 134 wins over the last five years, in addition to helping the program capture its first Mid-American Conference Tournament title. The group also helped Ohio improve its RPI from 188 heading into the 2014 season to 94 heading into the national postseason.
"It means a lot," said Basquez of what she and her teammates have accomplished. "Freshman year, we had the chance to get here, and we kept fighting. It just means a lot that I was able to help this team succeed and actually be here. It's a dream to all of us. I was telling them yesterday before the game, when we were eight, nine, 10-years-old, we were watching the girls play on this stage, and we've always dreamt to be here. We want to be here, and we were finally here, so it means a lot that I can put forth and help my team be here."
Dorsey, who led the Bobcats' bats with a 2-for-3 effort that included her team-leading third triple of the season, tossed her 29th complete game of the year - the most in a single season in school history. The 2014 MAC Tournament MVP and Second Team All-MAC selection struck out four over six frames of work to extend her single-season school-record to 298, which ranks as the eighth-most in league history. Dorsey allowed five runs - four earned - on 10 hits. She finished the season with a record of 25-18 in the circle, setting a school record for most pitching victories in a single season.
Claytor, who drew two walks in addition to posting her seventh double of the season, and Pyles combined with Dorsey to account for Ohio's four base knocks.
The Blue Demons plated their first four runs in the home half of the first, with a one-out, bases-loaded, three-run double to right center by senior Megan Coronado, breaking the contest open. Coronado made it 4-0 in favor of DePaul when she scored by way of an Ohio error.
DePaul tacked on a fifth run in the fifth when senior pitcher Kirsten Verdun hit a leadoff home run over the right field wall.
Verdun tossed six innings of two-hit ball and allowed just one walk while striking out 11 to earn the win in the circle and improve to 31-6 on the season. Offensively, she went 2-for-4 with a homer and two runs scored. Senior Hannah Penna threw the seventh inning for the Blue Demons, giving up an earned run on two hits and a walk.
Senior Allie Braden led all hitters with a 3-for-3 effort that included two doubles and a run scored. Junior Mary Connolly added two singles and scored a run.
No. 3 regionally-seeded DePaul plays No. 2 regionally-seeded James Madison on Saturday evening for the right to take on No. 14 national seed Kentucky on Sunday (May 18) for the NCAA Lexington Regional championship and berth in the best-of-three Super Regionals next weekend (May 22-25).