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Ohio Softball Set To Battle No. 14/15 Kentucky In NCAA Lexington Regional

Senior Alyssa Wolfe leads the Ohio softball team into its first NCAA Championship appearance since 1995.

May 15, 2014

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ATHENS, Ohio -- The Ohio University softball team (32-24) returns to the national postseason stage for the first time in 19 years as it travels to the Bluegrass State for the 2014 NCAA Championship Lexington Regional.

The Mid-American Conference Tournament champion Bobcats will battle No. 14 national seed Kentucky (44-15) -- the Southeastern Conference Tournament runner-up -- on Friday (May 16) at John Cropp Stadium to begin the double-elimination pod. First pitch is scheduled for 7:30 p.m. ET.

"Voice of the Bobcats" Russ Eisenstein will have the call of the game on Power 105-WXTQ as well as online on OhioBobcats.com. He will be joined in the broadcast booth by former Bobcat pitcher/utility player Emily Wethington -- a two-time FIrst Team All-MAC (2010, '11) and Academic All-MAC (2010, `11) selection. Wethington is Ohio's all-time pitching wins (54) and strikeouts (558) leader while also ranking second on the program's all-time home runs (27) and walks (66) lists.

Kentucky will also provide a free live video stream of Friday's game via UKAthletics.com.

Ohio and Kentucky will be joined in the Lexington Regional by Colonial Athletic Association champion James Madison (44-13) and Big East Conference champion DePaul (41-9). The Dukes and Blue Demons will compete in the regional opener on Friday at 5 p.m. ET. The winners of Friday's contests will meet in a winner's bracket final at 1 p.m. ET on Saturday (May 17), with an elimination game between Friday's losers beginning at 3:30 p.m. ET. The winner of that contest will play the loser of the winner's bracket final at 6 p.m. ET for the right to advance to the Lexington Regional Championship, which will be held on Sunday (May 17) at 1 p.m. ET. Should the team with no losses fall in that contest, a winner-take-all second championship game will take place at 3:30 p.m. ET.

The winner of the Lexington Regional advances to a Super Regional against the winner of the Los Angeles Regional, which includes No. 3 national seed UCLA, Southern Utah, Long Beach State and Notre Dame.

The NCAA Championship 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.

Oregon (49-7-1) enters the 2014 NCAA Championship as the No. 1 overall seed while No. 7 national seed Oklahama (45-10) looks to defend its 2013 national title.

The Bobcats are making their second NCAA Championship appearance in program history and first since 1995, when Ohio won the MAC regular season crown with a record of 39-22 (23-13 MAC) and advanced to the Tucson Regional.

Ohio went 0-2 in its first trip to the national postseason stage, falling to Arizona, 8-0, and Florida State, 2-0, on May 15, 1995.

Ohio opened the 2014 regular season with an eight-game winning streak -- including triumphs over fellow NCAA Championship qualifier South Carolina (5-2 on Feb. 8) and Big Ten Conference opponent Iowa (9-6 on Feb. 9) at the Carolina Classic in Columbia, S.C. The Bobcats ran their record to 12-1 after the first three weeks of the regular season, knocking off another fellow NCAA Championship squad in Northwestern State, 7-6 in eight innings, on Feb. 23 at the Frost Classic in Chattanooga, Tenn. The `Cats began MAC play carrying an overall record of 15-13 after dropping 12 of their final 15 non-conference contests -- a stretch of games that included the likes of NCAA Championship qualifiers South Alabama, Chattanooga, Louisiana-Lafayette, Mississippi State, Lipscomb and Louisville.

Ohio got off to its best start to conference play in program history by shooting out of the gates to a 10-2 record -- including a doubleheader sweep of archrival Miami on April 18 in Oxford, Ohio, marking the Bobcats' first Battle of the Bricks sweep since 2009.

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

The No. 5-seeded Bobcats won their first-ever conference tournament championship and advanced to the national postseason tournament with a 4-0 victory over No. 2-seeded Buffalo last Saturday (May 10) at Firestone Stadium in Akron, Ohio.

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 sixth-year head coach Jodi Hermanek by way of a 2-0 triumph over Buffalo in the winner's bracket final.

Ohio became the first No. 5 seed to win the MAC Tournament and lowest seed to capture the title since No. 6-seeded Bowling Green claimed the crown in 2004.

Hermanek achieved milestones both in the dugout and off the diamond in 2014.

In addition to joining Tracy Bunge (1995) as the only head coaches to lead the `Cats to the NCAA Championship in program history, Hermanek and her husband, David Horton, welcomed their first child, Emma Fay Horton, to the world on April 29 at 10:20 p.m. ET.

Hermanek retured to the Ohio dugout four days later to coach the `Cats to a 6-2 win over Northern Illinois on May 3. Since she was born, Ohio is a perfect 5-0 in games that Emma attends.

Hermanek's coaching staff of second-year assistants Kelly Miller and Taylor Schlopy and first-year volunteer assistant coach Caitlin Colvin each bring impressive credentials to the table.

Miller competed at Purdue, where she was a standout infielder for the Boilermakers. The 2009 graduate was a Second Team All-Mideast Region selection and a Third Team All-Big Ten selection, helping her school reach its first ever NCAA Regional appearance.

Schlopy came from one Athens to another after starting 252 games and hitting .354 during her four years at Georgia. Nationally recognized for her stellar play in college, the 2011 graduate was a Second Team All-American, named to the SEC Academic Honor Roll, the All-SEC First Team, the All-Southeast Region Team and First Team All-America by Louisville Slugger/NFCA and Easton. Schlopy has competed professionally as an outfielder for the Akron Racers of National Pro Fastpitch each of the last three years and will return for a fourth season in 2014.

Colvin stepped right from the playing field and into the dugout for the Bobcats, capping off her four-year career for Ohio by ranking 17th in the NCAA with 18 home runs and garnering Academic All-MAC selection in 2013.

Ohio has rewritten its record book en route to its first NCAA Championship appearance in 2014.

Offensively, the Bobcats have recorded the second-most walks (163), third-most home runs (41) and sixth-most RBIs (188) in a single season in program history while tying the 1995 and 2001 squads for the fifth-most runs scored (214).

In the pitching circle, Ohio has set the single-season school record for strikeouts with 389.

Ohio's softball team has posted the highest Academic Progress Rate (APR) in the MAC for the 2012-13 annual report, posting a perfect 1000.

The APR is a real-time measure of eligibility, retention and graduation of student-athletes competing on every NCAA Division I athletics team. The most recent scores are based on a multi-year rate that averages scores from the 2009-10, 2010-11, 2011-12 and 2012-13 academic years.

The goal of academic reform is improvement, not punishment. Not only does academic reform ensure accountability for student-athletes, teams and institutions, but it also provides fairness by considering individual circumstances per team and school.

Sophomore pitcher Savannah Jo Dorsey (Grove City, Ohio), who enters the NCAA Championship ranking fifth in the country in strikeouts, raised her game to a whole new level to vault the Bobcats to their first MAC Tournament title in program history.

The Second Team All-MAC selection 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 last Thursday (May 8) against top-seeded Ball State and a 13-inning shutout the following day against No. 2-seeded Buffalo. She fanned 46 while allowing only one earned run on 18 hits and six walks and limited opposing hitters to a .153 batting average.

After totaling 10 strikeouts in the tournament opener last Wednesday (May 7) in a 2-1 win over No. 4-seeded Kent State, Dorsey forced a Ball State lineup that 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 to go 21 up, 21 down and matched her career-high of 13 strikeouts for a third time this season in a 3-0 victory the following day. In the Friday (May 9) winner's bracket final, she threw 13 scoreless innings and limited Buffalo to only five hits and two walks while fanning 13 to match her career high for the fourth time this season and second time in as many games and vault the Bobcats to a 2-0 victory. Dorsey secured tournament MVP honors by tossing her third straight shutout and striking out 10 in the 4-0 title game victory over Buffalo. She also hit a one-run solo shot over the left field fence to start a three-run bottom of the fifth for Ohio.

Dorsey has collected 10 or more strikeouts 12 times in 2014 -- including each of her last five starts. She ran her school-record single-season strikeout total to 290, which ranks as the eighth-most in a single season in conference history. Her 25 pitching victories are the most in a single season in school 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 (1985) for the single-season school record. She boasts the most innings pitched in a single season in school history with 256.1. The sophomore's 474 career strikeouts rank as the second-most in school history while her 12 career shutouts are tied with Wagner (1985-88) for the second-most in school history.

Dorsey has also left her mark offensively, batting .240 with 36 hits -- including a team-high two triples as well as six home runs, which ranks third on the team -- and 24 RBIs, which is tied for third on the team with freshman Casie Hutchinson (Lebanon, Ohio).

Dorsey garnered MAC East Division Pitcher of the Week honors twice and earned MAC Female Scholar-Athlete of the Week recognition once. She pitched her first career collegiate no-hitter in a 1-0 win over host North Florida on Feb. 16 in the Osprey Invitational in Jacksonville, Fla.

Dorsey isn't the only pitcher on the Ohio staff that can get the job done.

Junior Lauren McClary (Pasadena, Texas) has recorded six pitching victories and 94 strikeouts in 109.1 innings of work in 2014.

McClary earned MAC East Division Pitcher of the Week honors for the fifth time in her career on Feb. 24 after going 2-0 with a save and fanning 16 over 14.2 innings of work while surrendering just two earned runs on 11 hits and two walks at the Frost Classic (Feb. 21-23) in Chattanooga, Tenn.

A Second Team All-MAC and All-MAC Freshman Team pick in 2012, McClary totaled a then-school record 205 strikeouts in her rookie campaign, giving her and Dorsey the distinction of being the only pitchers in program history in post 200 or more strikeouts in a single season.

McClary ranks fourth on the school's all-time strikeouts (414) list, seventh on the school's all-time wins (33) list and sixth on the school's all-time innings pitched (473.1) list.

Sophomore Amanda Dalton (Salem, Va.) has enjoyed a breakout offensive season for Ohio in 2014, earning First Team All-MAC selection after leading the Bobcats with a career-best .323 batting average, a .441 on-base percentage and a career-high 54 hits in addition to tying Hutchinson for the team and MAC lead with a career-high 32 walks. She's also stolen a career-high 11 bases, which ranks second on the team. Defensively, her career-high 76 assists at shortstop lead the team.

Dalton has tallied a team-high 18 multi-hit games -- including 15 games with two hits, two games with three hits and a career-high four hits in a 12-4 win at Eastern Michigan in the second game of a doubleheader on March 28.

In conference play, Dalton hit a team-best .410 with a team-best .507 on-base percentage and a team-high 25 hits.

The sophomore earned MAC East Division Player of the Week recognition for the first time in her career on Feb. 17 after batting a team-best .455, drawing a team-high five walks and scoring a team-high four runs at the Osprey Invitational (Feb. 15-16).

Dalton is a career .293 hitter with 87 base knocks -- including nine doubles. She owns a career on-base percentage of .390 and has posted 21 stolen bases in 29 attempts.

Hutchinson burst onto the scene in 2014, hitting .278 with 47 hits -- including two doubles and three homers -- to go along with 24 RBIs, which is tied with Dorsey for third on the team, and 22 runs scored, which is tied with Dalton for third on the team. She also matched Dalton for the team and conference lead with 32 walks. Hutchinson's on-base percentage of .398 ranks second on the team.

The rookie's 13 multi-hit games rank third on the team and include nine two-hit efforts and four three-hit efforts.

Hutchinson earned MAC All-Freshman Team selection after ranking second on the squad with a .333 batting average and 20 hits in league play. Her 10 RBIs ranked fourth on the team during MAC play. The rookie posted six multi-hit games during league play - including a career-high three hits in both games of a doubleheader at Eastern Michigan on March 28.

Hutchinson garnered MAC Player of the Week honors for the first time in her career on March 31 after hitting a team-best .625 with a .688 slugging percentage and a team-high 10 hits to go along with three RBIs and three runs scored over the first four games of league action.

Hutchinson knocked a two-out single into right field in the bottom of the seventh inning to send Ohio to a 3-2 walk-off victory over MAC East Division foe Bowling Green on April 13.

In the MAC Tournament opener against Kent State, Hutchinson posted two RBI singles to push Ohio to a 2-1 victory.

Junior Dakota Pyles (Galloway, Ohio) brought plenty of smiles to the faces of Bobcat fans last week at the MAC Tournament, earning a place on the All-MAC Tournament Team after hitting a team-best .538 with a team-high seven hits.

Pyles emerged as the hero in Ohio's 2-0 13-inning triumph over Buffalo in the winner's bracket final, belting 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. Pyles finished the contest by going a career-best 4-for-5 with a double and a homer.

Pyles is hitting a career-best .295 with a career-high 28 hits -- including a career-high six doubles and three homers -- to go along with a career-high nine RBIs and 11 runs scored.

Pyles is a career .257 hitter with 43 hits -- including eight doubles and four home runs -- in addiiton to 15 RBIs and 19 runs scored.

Senior Alyssa Wolfe (Junction City, Ohio) has developed from freshman walk-on to team leader patrolling center field for the Bobcats in 2014.

Wolfe is a career .228 hitter with 69 hits -- including eight doubles, three triples and six home runs -- to go along with 33 RBIs and 57 runs scored.

In 2014, Wolfe is batting a career-best .257 with a career-high 37 hits -- including a career-high eight doubles, which ranks third on the team.

The senior garnered All-MAC Tournament Team honors last week after hitting .400 with four hits and making several huge catches in center -- including a perfect game-saving snag while falling back into the outfield fence at Firestone Stadium to preserve Dorsey's gem against Ball State. The catch came a year after making a game-winning catch in a MAC Tournament elimination game against rival Miami, which was featured on ESPN SportsCenter's Top Ten on May 9, 2013.

Wolfe carries a team-best eight-game hitting streak into the 2014 NCAA Championship Lexington Regional.

Junior Adrienne Gebele (Annapolis, Md.) has enjoyed a career season for Ohio in 2014, hitting a career-best .305 (second on the team) with a career-high 53 hits (second on the team) -- including a career and team-high 12 doubles in addition to nine home runs (second on the team) -- to go along with a career-high 23 runs scored (second on the team) as well 27 RBIs, which rank second on the team. Her .529 slugging percentage is tops on the team.

Gebele's 15 multi-hit games in 2014 rank second on the team, as she has posted 12 two-hit efforts and three three-hit efforts.

On May 2, Gebele crushed a one-out, two-run, walk-off home run to right center to elevate Ohio to a 6-4 triumph over MAC West Division foe Western Michigan.

Gebele is a career .292 hitter with 117 hits -- including 23 doubles and 24 home runs -- to go along with 74 RBIs and 57 runs scored.

Gebele comes from an athletic background, as her father, Glenn, played football, rugby and competed in track and field for the U.S. Coast Guard Academy.

Ohio's lineup's biggest threat to hit for power is senior Alexandria Basquez (Elk Grove, Calif.).

Basquez carries a career-high 10 doubles, 10 home runs and 42 RBIs (fourth-most in a single season in school history) into the NCAA Championship Lexington Regional, all of which lead the team. Her slugging percentage of .506 ranks second on the squad, and she has scored a career and team-high 27 runs.

Basquez has posted a team-high 12 multi-RBI games and ranks fifth on the team with 12 multi-hit games.

Basquez owns a .280 batting average with 109 hits -- including 22 double and 17 home runs -- to go along with 82 RBIs and 53 runs scored.

Hutchinson is joined in the starting lineup by two other freshmen -- catcher Madison Claytor (Alpharetta, Ga.) and second baseman Taylor Saxton (Circleville, Ohio).

Claytor has started all 56 games behind the dish for Ohio in 2014 and has the rare rookie responsibility of calling the pitching game for the Bobcats.

Claytor has hit .275 with 41 hits -- including six doubles and five homers -- to go along with 22 RBIs and 17 runs scored. She has posted 12 multi-hit games, which ranks fourth on the team. The freshman has drawn 26 walks, which ranks third on the team.

Saxton has played in 46 games as a freshman and has made 21 starts, hitting .283 with 17 hits. She owns a perfect 1.000 fielding percentage.

Saxton made an impact in the MAC Tournament, hitting .429 (second on the team) with six hits (second on the team).

Ohio will be squaring off with Kentucky for the seventh time all-time on Friday, with the last meeting between the two programs coming in a doubleheader in Lexington on April 4, 2006. The Wildcats swept the twin bill by scores of 7-0 and 3-0. Ohio's lone victory over Kentucky came on March 14, 1998 -- a 7-6 win for the Bobcats.

The Wildcats, ranked No. 14 in the country in the ESPN.com/USA Softball Poll and No. 15 in the USA Today/NFCA Coaches' Poll, received an at-large bid to the 2014 NCAA Championship for a sixth straight year after falling to Georgia, 5-2, last Saturday in the SEC Tournament title game.

Led by seventh-year head coach Rachel Lawson, Kentucky set a school record for wins in a season with 44, besting the previous mark of 41 wins set in 2013. The Wildcats are coming off their best run in the SEC Tournament in program history. Kentucky started the tournament run with a walk-off win over Mississippi State, before taking down top-10 ranked Tennessee in the quarterfinal. Kentucky punched its ticket to the championship game with a victory over top-25 ranked LSU in Friday's semifinal.

Sophomore pitcher Kelsey Nunley is a Second Team All-SEC pick. She enters the regional with a 24-7 record and a 2.07 ERA, totaling 164 strikeouts against 68 walks over 213.0 innings of work.

Sophomore infielder Nikki Sagermann garnered Second Team All-SEC recognition. She boasts a .288 batting average and leads the Wildcats with 13 home runs and 46 RBIs.