ATHENS, Ohio –The Ohio softball team (24-13, 12-1 MAC) continued their run through the Mid-American Conference on Friday, sweeping MAC East foe Akron (2-33-1, 1-13 MAC) in a doubleheader at the Ohio Softball Field. The Bobcats took game one of the series, 8-0 in six innings, and wrapped up the day with a 5-2 victory in game two.
"We're just playing softball right now," head coach Jodi Hermanek said. "With this group, this year has been a lot of fun. I'm really proud of how we came out in the first game and dominated, and then we came back in the second game and just trusted ourselves and didn't panic. We just trusted out game and did what we knew we were capable of doing."
GAME ONE: Ohio 8, Akron 0 (Six Innings)
Akron would get the first hit in the game, when with one out, Cassie Gillespie singled up the middle. However, starting pitcher Danielle Stiene (Loveland, Ohio) would strikeout the next two batters, sending the game to the bottom of the frame with the game still scoreless.
Ohio struck first in the bottom of the first inning. With one out, Alex Day (Hilliard, Ohio) would single and move to second on an obstruction call by the first baseman. Next, Natalie Alvarez (Long Beach, Calif.) would single, scoring Day from second. Michaela Dorsey (Grove City, Ohio) would then draw a walk, setting up a two-RBI double from Morgan Geno (Chillicothe, Ohio), giving Ohio a 3-0 lead after one inning.
After Akron went down in order in the top of the second, Ohio would get a runner on with one out in the bottom of the second when Taylor Saxton (Circleville, Ohio) reached on an error. However, the Akron defense would get the Bobcats to hit into a line drive double play, ending the inning with the Bobcats up 3-0 going into the third inning.
Akron would get some runners on in the top of the third inning. Sabria Bruton would lead off by reaching first on a fielding error, however, she would be immediately caught stealing. Madison Carter would then reach on an infield single and then steal second. However, Stiene would strikeout the next two batters, sending the game to the bottom of the third inning leading 3-0.
Ohio would add on in the bottom of the third inning. With one out, Katie Yun (North Canton, Ohio) would double down the left field line. Alvarez would then come to the plate and smash her own double off the left field wall, scoring Yun from second. Alvarez would move to third on a ground out, however she would not score, but the Bobcats would go to the top of the fourth with a 4-0 lead.
After Stiene would send Akron down in order on three pitches in the top of the fourth, Ohio would add on in the bottom of the frame. With one out and Allie Englant (Long Beach, Calif.) on first, Saxton would reach first on an error and then Mikayla Cooper (Delaware, Ohio) would reach after getting hit by a pitch, loading the bases with one out. Day would then drive the ball to right field for a sacrifice fly, scoring Englant from third, giving Ohio a 5-0 lead going to the fifth inning.
Akron would try and get a run in the top of the fifth inning. Laura Lakins would lead off with a double to left field. She would then move to third when Jordan Crews reached second on an error, putting runners on second and third with no outs. However, the Bobcats defense would get the next three outs, getting out of the jam and sending the game to the bottom of the fifth with the Bobcats leading 5-0.
The Bobcats would add on in the bottom of the fifth inning when with one out, Dorsey would double to left center. She would then score when Geno smashed an RBI double off the right center wall, giving Ohio the 6-0 lead going to the sixth inning.
Akron would threaten again in the top of the sixth inning. With one out, Kayla Wulf would reach first after being hit by a pitch. She would then move to second when Caitlin Gambone reached on a fielding error. Both runners would move up a base on a passed ball. However, the Ohio defense would once again hold, getting the final two outs, sending the game to the bottom of the sixth with the Bobcats leading 6-0.
Ohio would wrap up the game in the bottom of the sixth inning. With one out and one on, Day would come to the plate and demolish her 10thhomerun of the year to dead-center, ending the game and giving the Bobcats the 8-0, six inning victory.
"I'm just seeing the ball a lot better than I was at the beginning of the season," Day said. "I've been working with [Jeremy] Manley a little extra and just trying to find my zone and what pitches I'm hitting the best. I just kind of work from there."
At the plate, Ohio scored eight runs on eight hits. Day went 2-for-3 with three RBI, two runs scored and a home run. Geno went 2-for-3 with two doubles and three RBI, and Alvarez also went 2-for-3 with a double, two RBI and a run scored. Yun and Dorsey also added a hit for the Bobcats.
In the circle, Stiene pitched six innings, allowing no runs on three hits and struck out seven.
GAME TWO: Ohio 5, Akron 2
Just like game one, Akron got a runner on in the top of the first inning. With one out, Gillespie would reach on a walk. The Bobcats would get out number two by a diving catch from Alvarez behind the plate, and then the defense would retire the final batter to send the game to the bottom of the frame with the game still scoreless.
Ohio threatened in the bottom of the first inning. With one out, Day reached first and moved to second on obstruction. Yun would then reach first and move to second on an error by the right fielder, putting runners on second and third with one out. Unfortunately, the Bobcats would be unable to scratch a run across and the game would go to the second tied at 0-0.
Akron would get a runner on again in the top of the second when Kimberly Rodriguez was hit by a pitch. However, the next batter would hit into a double play and then starter Madi McCrady (Brimfield, Ohio) would get the final batter to strike out, sending the game to the bottom of the second with the game tied at 0-0.
Ohio threatened again in the bottom of the second inning. With two outs, Englant and Saxton both reached on singles, putting runners on first and second. However, Akron would get the final batter out, ending the inning with the game still tied at 0-0 through two innings.
Akron would strike first in the top of the third on a two-run homerun from Gillespie, putting the Zips up 2-0 going to the bottom of the frame.
Ohio would get a run back in the bottom of the third inning. With two outs, Alvarez would crush a homerun down the leftfield line. Dorsey would then follow that up with a hard double off the leftfield wall, putting a runner in scoring position. However, Geno would fly out to the wall in rightfield, sending the game to the fourth with Ohio trailing 2-1.
The Bobcats would take the lead in the bottom of the fourth inning. MacKenzie Brunswick (Bellefontaine, Ohio) would lead the inning off with a stand up double. She would then score on an RBI double from Englant, tying the game at 2-2. Ohio would take the lead when Day would push an RBI single through the right side, scoring Englant and giving Ohio the 3-2 lead going into the fifth inning.
Akron threatened in the top of the fifth inning when pinch hitter Maddy Clowdus led the inning off with a single, she then moved to second when Bruton walked and Carter reached on a fielder's choice, loading the bases with one out. Kendall Meeks (Guysville, Ohio) would enter the game and get the next two Zips' batters out, ending the inning the Ohio still leading 3-2.
"Kendall coming in was huge," Hermanek said. "We threw two full innings with some of those at bats, with her only throwing one pitch. When a person can be that consistent with the spin that she has, then that's just huge. She doesn't take a lot to get outs and she's trusting her defense. She's not trying to strike anyone out and she's not trying to do too much. She's just trusting her defense to get the outs."
Ohio added on in the bottom of the fifth inning on a solo homerun from Dorsey, giving Ohio a 4-2 lead going into the sixth.
After the Zips went down in order in the top of the sixth inning, Ohio would add on in the bottom of the frame. With one out, Saxton would walk, but be erased on the bases when Cooper reached on a fielder's choice. Then with two outs, Day would crush another double to left center, scoring Cooper from first, putting Ohio up 5-2 going to the top of the seventh.
Meeks would send the Zips down in order in the top of the seventh inning, sealing the Bobcats' 5-2 victory.
At the plate, the Bobcats scored five runs on 10 hits and were led once again by Day, who went 3-for-4 with a double and two RBI. Englant went 2-for-3 with a double and two RBI, while Dorsey went 2-for-3 with a double, homerun, one RBI and one run scored. Alvarez added a homerun, while Brunswick and Saxton both had hits as well.
In the circle, McCrady pitched 4.1 innings, allowing two runs on four hits and struck out three. Meeks entered the game in the fifth inning, pitching 2.2 innings and did not allow a hit, run or walk in her innings.
Ohio wraps up the three-game series with Akron on Saturday, April 14, with first pitch set for 12 p.m. at the OSF. Get there early because there will be a celebration of the completed stadium prior to first pitch.