The strain of playing 42 games this season was evident Wednesday at Ohio’s non-conference game against Marshall.
While the Bobcats defeated the Thundering Herd 10-2, coach Jodi Hermanek was proud but dissatisfied.
“To be honest, I’m super happy about the win, but I don’t think it was our best day,” she said. “As far as our mentality and our intention to come out and really be strong on a win, we just came out here and did what we needed to do.”
Ohio’s sluggish game started when senior pitcher Danielle Stiene walked two of her first three batters, an atypical start for the four-time Mid-American Conference East pitcher of the week.
A Marshall batter hit a sacrifice fly to right field, which drove in the runner from third. The Herd took an early 1-0 lead.
With the Thundering Herd in position to add on to their lead, Hermanek visited the circle in an attempt to calm down her senior ace.
“She didn’t come out with her best stuff today,” Hermanek said. “I wanted to go out there and have a conversation about getting out here and competing.”
Along with shaky pitching, the Bobcats slow start defensively could be credited to its temporary new-look infield.
Freshman shortstop Katie Yun was not in Wednesday’s lineup because of an illness, which lead to multiple position changes. First basemen Mikayla Cooper moved to shortstop, catcher Natalie Alvarez played first and backup catcher Brooke Rice started behind the plate.
Offensively, the Bobcats seemed just as poised as ever in the first inning.
Alex Day and Morgan Geno both reached base, while Alvarez hit the first of her two RBIs, which tied up the score with only one out.
Later on in the inning, Allie Englant hit a three-RBI double, which Ohio a commanding 5-1 lead.
Ohio’s typically dominant offense was dormant for two innings, as both teams were in the midst of pitching duels.
In the bottom of the fourth inning, Ohio resurged itself back into the game after Alvarez picked up more RBIs, hitting a low-line two-run single that bounced off of the centerfield wall, which gave Ohio a 7-1 lead.
Alvarez is in the cleanup spot in the Bobcats’ batting order and after a three-RBI day, she said she enjoys her offensive role.
“Having people in front on the bases real nice because you get a deep fly ball and have an RBI right there,” she said. “We try to keep the ball on the ground because there’s more room for errors on the other team.”
Paired with Alvarez’s three-RBI game, Michaela Dorsey had the walk-off bases-clearing double in the bottom of the sixth to secure the run-rule.
“Anytime we can put the ball in play that’s our goal,” Dorsey said. “It’s better on the ground than anything else.”
Ohio (29-14, 15-2 MAC) hosts Buffalo (15-26, 6-11 MAC) for a weekend conference series with a single game Friday and a doubleheader on Saturday. It will be the Bobcats’ last home series of the 2017-18 season.