ATHENS, Ohio - Nearly 20 years after the 1995 team captured a Mid-American Conference regular season title and punched its ticket to the NCAA Championship Tucson Regional, the 2014 Ohio University softball squad etched its spot in program history right alongside them.
The 2014 campaign culminated in the program's first MAC Tournament title and second automatic bid to the NCAA Championship in school history. Along the way to the Lexington Regional, milestones were achieved and accolades were received as the Bobcats left a legacy for the program to build upon.
WINNING WAYS Under sixth-year head coach Jodi Hermanek, Ohio reached the national postseason for the first time in 19 years. The Bobcats recorded 32 wins - matching the 2001 squad for the second-most victories in program history. Ohio's 2014 winning percentage of .552 ranks as the 10th-best in program history. The Bobcats went 10-5 against other program from the Buckeye State - including a 7-3 victory over Ohio State on March 7 in the Red and Black Classic in Louisville, Ky.
Ohio opened the 2014 regular season with an eight-game winning streak (tied with the 1985, '94 and '95 squads for the second-longest in program history) -- 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.
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 Bobcats finished with at least 12 league wins for the fifth time in six seasons under Hermanek.
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 on 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 May 7, followed by a 3-0 blanking of MAC regular season champion Ball State on May 8 courtesy of a perfect-game effort by sophomore pitcher Savannah Jo Dorsey (Grove City, Ohio). Ohio reached the MAC Championship for the second time in four years under Hermanek by way of a 2-0 triumph in 13 innings 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.
MARKED IMPROVEMENT Ohio's rating percentage index (RPI) improved from 188 going into the 2014 season to 94 heading into the national postseason.
Including the 'Cats' wins over South Carolina and Northwestern State, Ohio's 2014 schedule included six other NCAA Championship participants in South Alabama, Chattanooga, Louisiana-Lafayette, Mississippi State, Lipscomb and Louisville.
A SEASON OF MILESTONES Ohio rewrote its record book in 2014 en route to its second NCAA Championship appearance.
Offensively, the Bobcats recorded the second-most walks (167), third-most home runs (41) fifth-most runs scored (214) and sixth-most RBIs (189) in a single season in program history.
In the pitching circle, Ohio set the single-season school record for strikeouts with 397 and threw the fourth-most innings pitched (396.0) in a single season in school history.
Basquez posted a career-high 10 doubles, 10 home runs (sixth-most in a single season in school history) and 42 RBIs (fourth-most in a single season in school history) in 2014, all of which led the team. Her 182 at-bats rank as the 10th-most in a single season in school history. She recorded her 13th multi-hit game of the season in Ohio's 2-0 loss to No. 14/15 Kentucky last Friday (May 16) in the opening round of the 2014 NCAA Championship Lexington Regional. Basquez's 17 career homers rank as the seventh-most in school history and her 82 career RBIs rank as the ninth-most in school history.
Hortman, who redshirted her 2010 freshman season due to injury, opted to return to the Bobcats for a fifth season in 2014 and see through the program's return to the national postseason. A Second Team All-MAC pick in 2013, she ranked third on the squad that season with a .329 batting average and followed it up by hitting .263 in 20 games in '14. Hortman's 13 career home runs rank as the ninth-most in school history.
Lashley goes down in Ohio lore as being the student-athlete to score the program's first-ever run in NCAA Championship play, scampering home from third on a one-out infield single by junior Dakota Pyles (Galloway, Ohio) in the top of the seventh inning last Saturday (May 17) against DePaul in a 5-1 NCAA Championship Lexington Regional elimination game loss.
Wolfe developed from freshman walk-on to team leader, patrolling center field for the Bobcats in 2014. In her senior campaign, she batted a career-best .248 with a career-high 37 hits -- including a career-high eight doubles, which tied for third on the team. Wolfe garnered All-MAC Tournament Team honors last after hitting .400 with four hits and making several huge catches in center -- including a perfect game-saving snag while falling back into the collapsible 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.
THE SAVVY JO SHOW Dorsey, who earned 2014 National Fastpitch Coaches Association's (NFCA) All-Mideast Region Second Team selection, finished the season ranking seventh in the NCAA with 298 strikeouts - a single-season program record that ranks eighth in league history.
The Second Team All-MAC selection also set single-season school records for wins (25; tied for 22nd in NCAA), innings pitched (268.1) and complete games (29) and tied single-season school records for appearances (49) and shutouts (8). She collected 10 or more strikeouts 12 times in 2014 - including four games with a career-high 13 strikeouts.
Offensively, Dorsey led Ohio with three triples and ranked third on the team with six home runs.
Dorsey led Ohio to its first MAC Tournament title in program history with an MVP performance by going 4-0 with four complete games and three straight shutouts - including a perfect game with 13 strikeouts against top-seeded Ball State and a 13-inning shutout the following day with 13 more strikeouts against No. 2-seeded Buffalo. She recorded 46 strikeouts while allowing only one earned run on 18 hits and six walks and limited opposing hitters to a .153 batting average. In Ohio's 4-0 MAC title game win over Buffalo, she struck out 10 and hit a one-out solo shot over the left field fence to start a three-run bottom of the fifth.
A two-time MAC East Division Pitcher of the Week and two-time MAC Female Scholar Athlete of the Week, Dorsey tossed her first career no-hitter in a 1-0 win over host North Florida on Feb. 16 in the Fourth Annual Osprey Invitational.
In just two seasons for the 'Cats, Dorsey has already begun to leave her mark on the career record book, ranking second in strikeouts (482), tied for second in shutouts (12), fourth in wins (39) and seventh in innings pitched (445.2) and complete games (40).
A RETURNING CORE In addition to Dorsey, Ohio will bring back seven other starters from its 2014 team.
First Team All-MAC pick Amanda Dalton (Salem, Va.) enjoyed a breakout season in 2014, leading the Bobcats with a career-best .318 batting average, a career-best .433 on-base percentage and a career and team-high 55 hits in addition to coaxing a career-high 32 walks. The sophomore also stole a career-high 11 bases, which ranked second on the team. Defensively, her career-high 77 assists at shortstop led the team.
MAC All-Freshman team pick Casie Hutchinson (Lebanon, Ohio) burst onto the scene in 2014, hitting .272 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 set a school-record by drawing 33 walks and posted an on-base percentage of .396, which ranked second on the team.
Pyles saved her best for the biggest moments of the season, earning earning a place on the All-MAC Tournament Team after hitting a team-best .538 with a team-high seven hits. She 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. In 2014, Pyles is hit a career-best .297 with a career-high 30 hits -- including a career-high six doubles and three homers -- to go along with a career-high 10 RBIs and 11 runs scored.
Junior Adrienne Gebele (Annapolis, Md.) enjoyed a career season for Ohio in 2014, tallying 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 ranked second on the team. Her .514 slugging percentage led the team. Gebele's 24 career home runs are tied for the third-most in school history.
Hutchinson was joined in the starting lineup by two other freshmen -- catcher Madison Claytor (Alpharetta, Ga.) and second baseman Taylor Saxton (Circleville, Ohio).
Claytor started all 58 games behind the dish for Ohio in 2014 and had the rare rookie responsibility of calling the pitching game for the Bobcats. She hit .275 with 42 hits -- including seven doubles and five homers -- to go along with 22 RBIs and 17 runs scored. The freshman drew 28 walks, which ranked third on the team and tied for the fourth-most in a single season in school history.
Saxton played in 48 games as a freshman and made 23 starts, hitting .258 with 17 hits. She owned 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 once again boast a pair of aces in 2015 with Dorsey and junior Lauren McClary (Pasadena, Texas) in the circle. McClary recorded six pitching victories and 94 strikeouts in 109.1 innings of work in 2014. She ranks fourth on the school's all-time strikeouts (414) list, sixth on the school's all-time innings pitched (473.1) and seventh on the school's all-time wins (33) list list.
With the program returning the majority of its 2014 championship squad, Hermanek and the Bobcats are hoping to reach even higher heights in 2015.