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Ohio redshirt senior pitcher Savannah Jo Dorsey pitches against Northn Illinois during the top of the second inning at the Ohio Softball Field on Friday, February 17, 2017. The game had to be suspended until 10 AM Saturday morning because of the lack of sunlight.

Softball: Kent State shocks Ohio twice to win MAC Championship

Ohio fans sat facing the Bobcats' dugout in disbelief.

It was almost as if they couldn't bring themselves to watch the Kent State players as they threw on their Mid-American Conference champion shirts and celebrated.

The Golden Flashes defeated the Bobcats 3-0 on Saturday to win the MAC Championship and clinch a berth in the NCAA Tournament. But what made the win even more impressive was that it was the third straight win of the day for Kent State.

When Saturday started, Kent State wasn't even in the MAC Championship Game. But the Golden Flashes made quick work of Northern Illinois, winning 9-3 to reach the title game. They were faced with the task of beating Ohio twice to win the championship.

The Bobcats only needed one victory to win the championship and, with Savannah Jo Dorsey in the circle, it looked like Ohio’s championship to lose.

But Kent State freshman Madi Huck came out and matched Dorsey pitch for pitch through seven shutout innings to keep the Golden Flashes’ hopes alive.

In the eighth inning, Kent State would finally break through against Dorsey when Holly Speers doubled to score Maddy Grimm and give Kent State a 1-0 lead.

Ronnie Ladines would enter in relief and throw a shutout inning, striking out two to get the save and give Huck and Kent State the 1-0 win that would force a winner-take-all deciding game.

Dorsey returned to the circle for Ohio, but she was not her sharpest. In the first inning, Hunter Brancifort hit a solo home run and Ladines went deep for a two-run home run. Dorsey would settle in and not allow a run the rest of the game, but the damage was done.

Those three runs were enough for Ladines, who stayed in the circle as the game two starter for Kent State. She threw a complete game shutout, striking out six while only allowing three hits, to give Kent State its third win of the day — and the MAC Championship.

For her performance in the MAC Tournament, Ladines would be named its MVP.

Dorsey took the heartbreaking loss in both games for Ohio, throwing a combined 14 innings with four runs earned on 11 hits. 

Those were the only four runs Dorsey allowed — in 35 innings pitched — in the MAC Tournament. She earned a spot on the All-Tournament team for her performances.

But the Ohio offense could not sneak across a run in either game against Kent State on Saturday for Dorsey, despite having a combined 11 base runners between the two games.

In the end, Kent State proved to be a thorn in Ohio’s side this season — the Golden Flashes won four of the six meetings between the two clubs. Ladines won three of those games and allowed just three runs in five appearances.

This is the second straight season Ohio has fallen in the MAC Championship Game, having lost to Miami last season.

The fate of Ohio’s season now sits in the hands of the NCAA selection committee. If the Bobcats (39-16) are going to make the NCAA Tournament and continue their season, they will need to earn an at-large bid. Ohio is ranked No. 62 in the RPI.

The entire 64-team NCAA Tournament field will be announced Sunday at 10 p.m. on ESPN 2.


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