AKRON, Ohio– The No. 3 Ohio softball team (33-19) returned to action on Thursday afternoon (May 9), defeating No. 7 Toledo (24-26), 7-1, in the second round of the 2019 Mid-American Conference Tournament inside Firestone Stadium. The Bobcats will advance to the winner's bracket final tomorrow (May 10) at 3:30 p.m. when they take on No. 1 Miami.
"We were playing loose today, which is really good to see," first-year head coach Kenzie Roark said. "We've had a lot of energy all day. Allie taking that first pitch and getting them started early was a great spark for them. When they're at ease it's easier for me to be at ease. They look comfortable here and I think they're looking forward to tomorrow."
Toledo would get runners on in the top of the first inning. With one out, the Rockets would get runners on first and second via a base hit and a hit by a pitch. Starter Madi McCrady (Brimfield, Ohio) would then get a strikeout and a ground out to send the frame with the game still tied at 0-0.
The Bobcats would strike in the bottom of the first inning. Sophomore Allie Englant (Long Beach, Calif.) would reach on a first pitch single to center. However, she would be replaced on the bases by sophomore Katie Yun (North Canton, Ohio), who reached on a fielder's choice. Toledo would then walk senior Alex Day (Hilliard, Ohio) and senior Morgan Geno (Chillicothe, Ohio) to load the bases with one out. Senior Natalie Alvarez (Long Beach, Calif.) would then reach on a walk, scoring Yun, putting Ohio up, 1-0.
Ohio wasn't done in the inning. Freshman Charlee Pond (Redondo Beach, Calif.) would then reach on a single up the middle, scoring Geno. Then with the bases still loaded, senior MacKenzie Brunswick (Bellefontaine, Ohio) would then rope a single down the left field line, scoring two and giving Ohio a 4-0 lead. The single would force Toledo to make a pitching change. The Bobcats would be unable to add on in the inning, sending the game to the second inning with Ohio leading 4-0.
Toledo would get a runner on in the top of the second inning from a walk, however the Bobcats defense would get the next two outs, with McCrady striking out the final batter of the inning looking, sending the game to the bottom of the inning with Ohio still leading 4-0.
The Bobcats would add on in the bottom of the second inning. With one out, Yun and Day would reach on back-to-back singles, before Day would steal second to put runners on second and third. With two outs, Alvarez would draw her second walk of the game to load the bases. Pond would then reach on her second RBI single of the day, scoring Yun and giving Ohio a 5-0 lead. Brunswick would then be hit by the next pitch, scoring Day. Ohio would be unable to plate another run, but the Bobcats would take a 6-0 lead to the top of the third inning.
Toledo would threaten in the top of the third inning when with two outs, the Rockets would draw back-to-back walks. However, McCrady would get the final batter to strike out swinging, ending the inning and sending the game to the bottom of the third with Ohio still leading, 6-0.
Ohio would threaten to add on in the bottom of the third inning. With one out, Englant would draw a walk, followed by a single from Yun. Englant would move to third on a flyout and Yun would steal second, putting runners on second and third with two outs. Geno would then drive a ball to the deepest part of left field, however it would be caught right at wall, ending the inning with Ohio leading, 6-0.
Toledo would get on the board in the top of the fourth inning when Sam Golden hit a two-out solo homerun to left field. However, Toledo would be unable to add on, sending the game to the bottom of the frame with Ohio still leading, 6-1.
Ohio would try to add on in the bottom of the fourth inning. With one out, Pond would be hit by a pitch and move to second on a ground out. However, there would then be a 30-minute lightening delay. Once play resumed, the Rockets would get the final out of the inning, sending the game to the top of the fifth with Ohio leading 6-1.
Ohio would add on in the bottom of the fifth inning. Pinch hitter Deanna Cole (Akron, Ohio) would lead off the inning with an infield single. She would then steal second and move to third on a ground out. Then with one out, Cole would score on a passed ball, giving Ohio a 7-1 lead going into the top of the sixth inning.
Ohio would threaten to add on in the bottom of the sixth inning. Geno would draw a walk to start the inning and then be replaced on the bases by freshman Justice Ruggles (Grass Lake, Mich.). Then with two outs, Ruggles would be thrown out at home trying to score on a double from Brunswick, ending the inning and sending the game to the top of the seventh with Ohio leading, 7-1.
In the top of the seventh inning, Toledo would get a runner on after a two-out walk, however, McCrady would strikeout the final batter of the game, securing the Bobcats 7-1 victory.
Overall, Ohio scored seven runs on nine hits and committed one error, while Toledo scored one run on four hits and did not commit an error.
Individually, Brunswick went 2-for-3 with three RBI, while Pond also went 2-for-3 with two RBI. Yun added two hits with two runs scored, While Cole recorded a hit, stolen base and a run scored. Englant recorded a hit and Day registered one hit and scored two runs.
In the circle, McCrady pitched seven innings, allowing one run on four hits, walked four and struck out six.
"It's awesome to play here," McCrady said. "I've been at Firestone a couple of times and it's awesome. I'm home and all my family and fans are here and it's awesome to be able to play at home."
Up next, the No. 3 Bobcats will take on No. 1 Miami on Friday, May 10 with first pitch set for 3:30 p.m. inside Firestone Stadium.