ATHENS, Ohio– Led by a nine RBI day from senior MacKenzie Brunswick, the Ohio softball team (23-11, 4-1 MAC) split a doubleheader with Mid-American Conference West foe, Northern Illinois (14-16, 2-2 MAC). Ohio defeated the Huskies, 11-3 in five innings in game one, before falling to NIU, 5-4, in the second game.
GAME ONE: Ohio 11, NIU 3 (5 Innings)
Northern Illinois would get on the board first in the top of the first inning, scoring two runs with two outs, taking a 2-0 lead entering the bottom of the frame.
The Bobcats' offense would respond. Sophomore Allie Englant (Long Beach, Calif.) reached on a walk and moved to third on a double from sophomore Katie Yun (North Canton, Ohio). Senior Natalie Alvarez (Long Beach, Calif.) would reach on a walk as well, loading the bases with no outs. After the Bobcats would hit into a double play, freshman Charlee Pond (Redondo Beach, Calif.) would reach on a single through the right side, followed by a single from senior Alex Day (Hilliard, Ohio) that would score Yun to put Ohio on the board. Then in her first at bat since being injured in week one, senior MacKenzie Brunswick (Bellefontaine, Ohio) would crush a grand slam to left field, giving Ohio a 5-2 lead after the first inning.
After NIU went down in order in the top of the second, Ohio added on. With two outs, Alvarez would reach on a single and then score when senior Morgan Geno (Chillicothe, Ohio) crushed a two-run homerun over the batting cages in left field, giving Ohio a 7-2 lead. The Bobcats weren't done. Pond would reach on an error and then steal second and move to third on a single from Day. Brunswick would then come to the plate and crush a double to left center, clearing the bases and giving Ohio a 9-2 lead going into the third.
NIU would try and get a run back in the top of the third inning when the Huskies would draw a two-out walk. However, starting pitcher Madi McCrady (Brimfield, Ohio) would get the final batter of the inning to strikeout, sending the game to the bottom of the frame with Ohio leading 9-2.
Ohio would add on in the bottom of the third inning. With two outs, Englant would single, followed by another single from Yun, putting runners on first and second. Alvarez would the crush a single to the centerfield wall, scoring Englant, giving Ohio a 10-2 lead after three full innings.
Northern Illinois would get a run in the top of the fourth inning on aa two-out RBI single, cutting the lead to 10-3 going into the bottom of the inning.
Ohio would get the run back in the bottom of the frame. Pond would lead the inning off with a homerun to center field. With one out, Brunswick would draw a walk and then move to second when Caroline Spacek (Beaumont, Texas) reached on an error. However, the Bobcats would be unable to scratch another run across, going to the top of the fifth inning with an 11-3 lead.
NIU would get one runner on in the top of the fifth inning with two outs. However, McCrady would get the final batter to strikeout looking, ending the game and sealing the 11-3 victory for Ohio.
Overall, Ohio scored 11 runs on 12 hits and did not commit and error, while NIU scored three runs on five hits and committed three errors.
Individually, Brunswick led the Bobcats with two hits, a grand slam, a double and six RBI, while Alvarez recorded two hits, two runs scored and two RBI, while Pond added two hits, an RBI and three runs scored. Day registered two hits, an RBI and two runs scored, while Geno recorded a homerun, two RBI and a run scored.
In the circle, McCrady pitched five innings, allowing three runs on five hits, walked one and struck out nine.
GAME TWO: NIU 5, Ohio 4
NIU would threaten in the top of the first inning, putting runners on with back-to-back singles. However, the Ohio defense would get the next three batters out, stranding them on second and third, sending the game to the bottom of the inning with the game still scoreless.
Ohio threatened in the bottom of the first inning. With one out, Yun would single up the middle, however, Ohio would hit into a double play, sending the game to the second with it still tied at 0-0.
Ohio struck in the bottom of the second inning. Geno would draw a walk and Pond would be hit by a pitch. Both runners would be replaced on the bases by freshmen Taytum Hargrave (Warsaw, Ind.) and Justice Ruggles (Grass Lake, Mich.). Day would then draw a walk, bringing up Brunswick, would crush a three-run double to center, clearing the bases and giving Ohio a 3-0 lead after two.
After NIU went down in order in the top of the third inning, Ohio would add on in the bottom of the frame. Englant would lead off with a single. She would then move to third when Yun crushed a double off the top of the center field wall, putting runners on second and third with no outs. Englant would then score on a sacrifice fly from Alvarez, putting Ohio up 4-0 after three innings.
After a scoreless fourth inning from both teams, NIU would get on the board in the top of the fifth inning, cutting the Ohio lead in half on a two-run homerun, sending the game to the bottom of the fifth with Ohio leadings 4-2.
Ohio tried to add on in the bottom of the fifth inning. Senior Deanna Cole (Akron, Ohio) led the inning off with a walk and would move to second on a sacrifice bunt. Yun would then draw a walk and both runners would move up on a ground out. NIU would then intentionally walk Geno to load the bases, however the Bobcats would be unable to get a run across, sending the game to the sixth inning with Ohio leading 4-2.
NIU would take the lead in the top of the sixth inning on a three-run homerun, sending the game to the bottom of the sixth with the Huskies leading 5-4.
Ohio would try to respond in the bottom of the sixth inning. With one out, Brunswick would single and then move to third after back-to-back walks from Spacek and Cole, to load the bases with one out. Unfortunately, the Bobcats would be unable to get a run across and send the game to the seventh with Ohio trailing, 5-4.
After a scoreless inning from NIU in the top of the frame, the Bobcats would try to mount a comeback in the bottom of the seventh. With one out, Geno would reach on a walk, however she would be out at second when redshirt senior Michaela Dorsey (Grove City, Ohio) would reach on a fielder's choice. However, with a runner on first with two outs, Ohio would be unable to get the tying run across, with NIU sealing the 5-4 victory.
Overall, Ohio scored four runs on five hits and committed two errors, while NIU scored five runs on six hits and did not commit and error.
Individually, Yun went 2-for-3, while Brunswick went 2-for-3 with three RBI and a double. England added a hit and a run scored, while Alvarez recorded an RBI.
In the circle, freshman Mackensie Kohl (Corona Del Mar, Calif.) pitched six innings, allowing five runs on six hits, walked one and struck out three, while McCrady pitched one inning, allowing no runs on no hits and struck out one.
Up next, the Bobcats wrap up the three-game series with Northern Illinois on Saturday, March 30. First pitch is set for 11 a.m. at the OSF.