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Ohio’s Alexandria Basquez, left, and Erin Lashley prepare to run April 23 against Eastern Michigan at the Ohio Softball Field. (Katharine Egli | FOR THE POST)

Softball: 'Cats fall short in 'milestone' season

Injuries and record rainfall threatened to derail the expectations for a Bobcat team that came into the season with high expectations and one of the most experienced rosters in the conference.

Heading into the final weekend of the regular season, Ohio barely stood above .500 in conference play. But after rattling off three wins in four games, the Bobcats had captured the MAC East crown.

“I’m just really proud of this team taking the program one step further than it’s been since I came here,” coach Jodi Hermanek said. “With all the things we played through injury-wise, I think this team had a lot of guts and a lot of glory.

“Getting [to the MAC Championship] and winning the East Division, we had a lot of milestones this season.”

The team’s improbable run that came up just short of a second MAC Tournament Championship was certainly admirable, but the individual achievements over the season may leave the most enduring legacy.

Five seniors — Melissa Bonner, Sara Clark, Paige Kemezis, Jordan Paden and Emily Wethington — saw their careers come to an end at Firestone Stadium Sunday against Western Michigan. Though Bonner and Wethington may be gone next season, their names will remain in the Ohio record books.

Bonner, a pitcher and outfielder, hit .336 on the season and knocked in 27 runs in her final campaign with the Bobcats. She finished her career with 101 RBI, tied with Nicole Tangeman for second all-time at Ohio.

“I couldn’t have asked for anything better than these four years,” Bonner said. “I had a great time, and it was just amazing to play with these great athletes.”

This season, Wethington (21-12) personally re-wrote the Bobcat record book — both in the circle and in the batter’s box.

On March 8 against Marshall, she broke the all-time strikeout record. Her 166 Ks this season broke her single-season record, and her 558 career punch-outs shattered Michelle Sauter’s previous mark of 425.

Her 54 career wins are also tops for the Bobcats.   

Then, on March 26, she belted her 23rd career home run against Canisius College in California. She finished the season with seven and her career with 27. She also owns Ohio’s top slugging percentage, finishing with a career mark of .556.

“I’m truly blessed to say I was able to play college D-I softball for four years with the girls that I did,” Wethington said. “I’ve made some of my best friends here.

“We made a really good run. I couldn’t have asked for a better tournament except, obviously, winning the MAC Championship.”

bl245106@ohiou.edu

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