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Alex Day dashes to first after a pop-up ball during Ohio's game against Rutgers on Friday (BLAKE NISSEN | FOR THE POST)

Softball: Ohio's new offensive confidence

On Saturday, the Bobcats trailed by seven runs. They had just three at-bats to make up the deficit and they hadn’t gotten a hit yet.

For most teams, that would be the end of it. It was the first half of a double-header, they could come right back and achieve retribution that same day.

But that wasn’t enough for the Bobcats. They were still focused on getting both wins that day.

What’s more: they still expected to get both wins.

“It was just a matter of time,” coach Jodi Hermanek said. “We started making solid connection. Our at-bats turned into quality (at-bats).”

Sure enough, the Bobcats produced six runs in the fifth inning to bring themselves within a run. Then, thanks to game-tying and winning runs batted in from third baseman Alex Day, the Bobcats fulfilled their own expectations.

They won 8-7 in eight innings. They celebrated Day’s walk-off single off the left field wall because it was exciting, not because it was surprising.

“We trust in ourselves in those last innings,” Day said. “We can hit the ball and we’re gonna get those runs scored.”

This is the new normal for the Bobcats. They expect their offense to deliver, and through 28 games, it has. A lot more often than it did last season. Last season, the Bobcats failed to plate double digit runs in a game all season. This year, they’ve already done it five times.

The Bobcats are overflowing with confidence in the batter’s box.

Which, compared to last year, well…

“Oh, there’s not much of a comparison,” Hermanek said. “Last year we played so many one-run ballgames. This year, our goal is to put up 8-10 hits a game. We’re getting contributions up and down the lineup.”

The biggest difference might be the shrinking gap between the "up" and "down" parts of the Ohio lineup. Its depth has become one of its biggest strengths. 

Eight players are batting over .280  and seven have 10 or more runs batted in. Last year, only five players hit .280 or better and only six players reached 10 or more runs batted in all season. 

The deeper the lineup goes, the less the top of the lineup feels the need to compensate.

 "When we know everyone can get the job done," cleanup hitter Morgan Geno said. "That takes a lot of pressure off of you."

Ohio's sizable offensive step forward has also taken the pressure off its pitching staff. The confidence Bobcat hitters have in themselves has carried over to their long-time rock in the circle. 

Pitcher Savannah Jo Dorsey didn’t begin either of her starts this weekend with her usual dominance.

Friday, Dorsey surrendered a leadoff home run to start the game. Saturday, Toledo scored six of its seven runs in just three innings against her. But she was never worried. Dorsey knew just as well as her teammates: the hits would come.

“It’s not just that they’re going to show up,” Dorsey said. “It’s that I know they will going into the game.”

@JAjimbojr

jw331813@ohio.edu

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