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Ohio's Taylor Saxton celebrates after she scores another run in the March 25, 2017, game against Toledo at the Ohio Softball Stadium. (HANNAH RUHOFF | FOR THE POST)

Softball: Ohio avoids sweep with victory over Ball State in the series finale

Danielle Stiene was in trouble. 

Two runs had already scored in the inning, and the game-tying run was on first with only one out. 

Ball State had already come from behind twice in the weekend set to beat the Bobcats, and it looked like the Cardinals were poised to come back again.

But Stiene got a quick strikeout before fielding a Maddy Labrador grounder and flipping it to first to secure the 3-2 win for Ohio.

“I was just happy I fielded it because sometimes gut shots can happen,” Stiene said of the final out. “So I was just playing it cool trying to get the outs.”

Stiene definitely played it cool as she threw the seventh inning, in which she surrendered two runs on three hits, with the same body language as she had in first six innings, during which she did not allow a run and only gave up one hit.

Stiene’s good performance and composure helped Ohio pick up a much-needed win to snap its three-game losing streak. The win also helped the Bobcats (26-10, 7-4) pick up a game on the Cardinals (25-18, 9-2) for the top-seed in the Mid-American Conference tournament.

Ohio got great pitching the entire weekend but needed some timely hitting to back the pitching up. The Bobcats seemed frustrated because the team only scored four combined runs between the two games Saturday, despite racking up 15 hits.

The Bobcats used power and speed Sunday to back up Stiene’s pitching.

The speed was supplied by Taylor Saxton, who tripled to center field to leadoff the third inning. Saxton would score on a sacrifice fly by Morgan Geno.

The power came from Madison Claytor and Mikayla Cooper, who both hit solo home runs to extend the Ohio lead.

“I think we made the adjustments that we needed to make yesterday which we didn’t into this game today, and that we did,” Cooper said. “It shows in the game what happens when you do make those adjustments.”

For coach Jodi Hermanek, she was happy her team erased the two close losses the day before and came out with a familiar presence.

“Yesterday, I was most disappointed in our presence, I was most disappointed in our approach because I felt like we backed off,” Hermanek said. “I made them vow to commit to stay in the fun zone all day long because they needed to stay loose and they needed to stay resilient and they needed to just have fun playing some softball against a team that is competitive.”

The Bobcats will look to keep that presence as they head into Wednesday, when they host Kent State to finish off the mid-week series that started last week. The deciding game of the series is scheduled for 2 p.m. at the Ohio Softball Field.


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