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Ohio Softball Takes Aim At MAC Tournament Title

Sixth-year head coach Jodi Hermanek has led Ohio softball to a Mid-American Conference Tournament Championship berth for the second time in the last four years.

May 10, 2014

2014 MAC Tournament Central | 2014 MAC Championship - Watch ESPN/ESPN3 | 2014 MAC Championship (if necessary) - Watch ESPN/ESPN3

AKRON, Ohio - The No. 5-seeded Ohio University softball team (31-24) sets its sights on its first league tournament crown in program history and first NCAA Tournament berth since 1995 on Saturday (May 10) in the 2014 Mid-American Conference Championship at Firestone Stadium.

The Bobcats will take on No. 2-seeded Buffalo, which defeated No. 7-seeded Northern Illinois, 7-2, in an elimination game on Saturday morning, at 1:30 p.m. ET. Should Ohio fall in that contest, a winner-take-all second championship game will be played 30 minutes following the conclusion of game one.

Saturday's conference championship will be broadcast live on Time Warner Cable Sports (check local listings) as well as on Watch ESPN/ESPN3.

The 'Cats are making their second MAC Championship appearance in the last four years under six-year head coach Jodi Hermanek and fourth appearance in program history.

Ohio finished conference play with a 12-8 mark to clinch the No. 5 seed in the MAC Tournament.

In the tournament opener against Kent State on Wednesday (May 7), freshman Casie Hutchinson (Lebanon, Ohio) posted two RBI-singles, and sophomore pitcher Savannah Jo Dorsey (Grove City, Ohio) totaled 10 strikeouts to push the Bobcats to a 2-1 win.

The 'Cats earned the right to battle MAC regular season champion Ball State on Thursday (May 8) - the league's top ranked offense, featuring the three-time MAC Player of the Year in senior Jennifer Gilbert and four other First Team All-MAC selections.

All Dorsey did was walk into the pitching circle and be perfect, forcing Ball State's lineup to go 21 up, 21 down en route to matching her career high of 13 strikeouts to help the `Cats topple Ball State, 3-0.

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. In Ball State's last-chance at-bat, Gilbert gave the ball a ride deep into center field, but senior Alyssa Wolfe (Junction City, Ohio) leaned back against the outfield fence to make a perfect-game saving catch to end the contest.

Freshman Taylor Saxton (Circleville, Ohio) finished the game with a career-high three hits to lead Ohio offensively.

The victory propelled Ohio to a MAC Tournament winner's bracket final matchup with Buffalo on Friday (May 9), where junior Dakota Pyles (Galloway, Ohio) belted a two-out, two-run home run over the left field fence at Firestone Stadium to break a scoreless tie in the top of the 13th inning, vaulting the Bobcats to a 2-0 victory and into the MAC Championship.

Pyles finished the contest by going a career-best 4-for-5 with a double and a homer. She is batting a team-best .600 with a team-high six hits through three tournament games.

A day after throwing a perfect game in a 3-0 victory over MAC regular season champion Ball State, Dorsey limited the Bulls to only five hits and two walks while fanning 13 over 13 frames of work to match her career high for the fourth time this season and second time in as many games.

Dorsey has collected 10 or more strikeouts 11 times in 2014. The Second Team All-MAC selection ran her school-record single-season strikeout total to 280, which matches Kent State's Kylie Reynolds (2008) for the eighth-most in a single season in conference history. Dorsey's 26 complete games are tied with Kasey Dowd (1999) for the second-most in a single season in school history while her seven shutouts are the third-most in a single season in school history. The sophomore's 464 career strikeouts rank as the second-most in school history.

Ohio enters Saturday's MAC Championship with 31 wins, which ranks as the second-most in a single season in school history.