AKRON, Ohio– A clutch two-out RBI single by freshman Charlee Pond in the bottom of the eighth inning, helped the No. 3 Ohio softball team (32-19) top the No. 6 Ball State Cardinals (34-19), 3-2,in extra innings in the opening round of the 2019 Mid-American Conference Tournament Wednesday evening inside Firestone Stadium in Akron, Ohio.
"In the game ahead of us, Toledo upset the two seed, so it's tournament time and anything can happen," first-year head coach Kenzie Roark said. "I told the team before the game that it's going to require everyone in the dugout, and it did. I was down to a couple of substitutes at the end and I truly believe that without every single person in the dugout, we don't win that game."
After starting pitcher Madi McCrady (Brimfield, Ohio) sent the Cardinals down in order in the top of the third, the Bobcats would get on the bases first. Sophomore Katie Yun (North Canton, Ohio) would single through the right side and then move to second on a ground out. She would move to third on a passed ball, putting a runner at third with two outs. However, the Bobcats would be unable to get her around, sending the game to the second with the game tied at 0-0.
Ball State would get their first baserunner in the top of the second inning on a two-out single, however, McCrady would get the final batter to strike out looking, ending the frame with the game tied at 0-0.
After a quite bottom of the second, Ball State would make noise in the top of the third inning. With one out, the Cardinals would get two runners on via a walk and a hit by a pitch, however, the Ohio defense would get the final two outs from infield popups, ending the frame with the game still tied at 0-0.
After the Bobcats would send Ball State down in order in the top of the fourth, Ohio would get a runner on again in the bottom of the frame when with two outs, senior Morgan Geno (Chillicothe, Ohio) would reach on a single to shallow center. However, the Bobcats would be unable to score, sending the game to the fifth inning with it still scoreless.
The Cardinals would get runners on in the top of the fifth inning when with one out, runners would reach on a single and a hit by a pitch, putting runners on first and second with one out. However, a foul out and a ball that was tracked down in the right center by senior MacKenzie Brunswick (Bellefontaine, Ohio), would end the inning and send the game to the bottom of the frame with the game tied at 0-0.
The Bobcats would finally strike in the bottom of the fifth inning. With one out, Brunswick, off the catch to end the top of the frame, would demolish a solo homerun to leftfield, putting the Bobcats up 1-0 after five full innings of play.
After a scoreless inning from Ball State in the top of the sixth inning, the Bobcats would add on in the bottom of the frame. With one out, Yun would draw a walk and then move to second on a single from senior Alex Day (Hilliard, Ohio). However, an error on the play would cause all runners to move up a base. Then with one out, Geno would lay down a perfect squeeze bunt, allowing Yun to score from third, putting Ohio up 2-0. Senior Natalie Alvarez (Long Beach, Calif.) would then reach on a sacrifice bunt of her own to load the bases with one out. However, the Bobcats would be unable to get a run around, sending the game to the top of the seventh with Ohio leading 2-0.
Ball State would strike in the top of the seventh inning. With a runner on first and no outs, Ball State's Sarah Venker would hit a two-run homerun to tie the game at 2-2. Then with one out, Ball State would get a runner on via a hit by a pitch. She would then steal second with two outs. However, McCrady would get the final batter to strike out, sending the game to the bottom of the seventh with the game tied at 2-2.
After the Bobcats would be unable to score in the bottom of the seventh inning, Ball State would threaten in the top of the eighth. The Cardinals would get a leadoff single, however a pop up and two-straight strikeouts from McCrady would end the threat and send the game to the bottom of the inning with the game tied at 2-2.
The Bobcats would rally in the bottom of the eighth inning. Yun would walk to lead off the inning and then move to second on a ground out. Geno would then be hit by a pitch and with one out, Yun would move to third on a sacrifice fly from Alvarez. Then with two outs, freshman Charlee Pond (Redondo Beach, Calif.) would drop a single down the leftfield line, scoring Yun from third, sending the Bobcats home with the 3-2 walk-off victory.
"It was really exciting," Pond said. "I had kind of a rough start at the start of the game. The most frustrating part of having a bad game isn't for myself, it's for my teammates. Running back in that dugout after not making adjustments for two at bats and not being able to pick them up the way I wanted to. In that last at bat, Coach Ro called me over to calm me down a little bit. She gave me a lot of confidence in that last at bat and I knew that the pitcher was going to throw me up again if she got ahead in the count, so I did my best to take the low pitches first and it worked in my favor this time."
At the plate, Ohio scored three runs on five hits and committed one error, while Ball State scored two runs on four hits and committed one error.
Individually, Yun had one hit and scored two runs, Brunswick recorded a homerun, a run scored and an RBI, Geno registered a hit and an RBI, while Day recorded a base hit, while Pond recorded the game-winning hit and RBI.
In the circle, McCrady pitched eight innings, allowing two runs, one earned, on four hits, while striking out seven and walking one.
The Bobcats will face off with No. 7 Toledo tomorrow at 3:30 p.m. at Firestone Stadium.