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Madi McCrady pitches during Ohio's game against Central Michigan on March 23. The Bobcats beat the Chippewas 4-3 in the first game of a doubleheader.

Softball: Ohio completes sweep to begin MAC play

Madi McCrady struck out the side in the top of the first inning.

In the bottom half of the inning, the Bobcats scored two runs.

The game couldn’t have started better for Ohio Saturday, as it completed a sweep of Central Michigan with a 5-1 win at Ohio Softball Field.

Head coach Jodi Hermanek summarized the game in two words.

“We dominated,” Hermanek said.

After her commanding first, McCrady allowed only one hit in the following two innings, which were promptly erased from the base path on a heads-up double play by Taylor Saxton. 

After walking the leadoff batter in three separate innings Friday, McCrady rebounded and didn't give the Chippewas any free base runners. 

“Yesterday she competed when she didn't have all command of her pitches," Hermanek said. "Today she competed and won when she had command and it was great.”

Mikayla Cooper reached base on an error to start the bottom of the first and, with two outs, Natalie Alvarez continued her strong start to conference play, singling off the wall in left center. 

It was enough for Cooper to speed around the bases for the first run of the game.

Alvarez did not stay on the bases long, as Michaela Dorsey ripped the ball to a similar spot. Central Michigan did not hurry the ball in, expecting Alvarez to stay at third, but she scored. 

Those two first-inning runs set the tone for Ohio. 

Ohio (14-12, 3-0 Mid-American Conference) expected Lauren Vaccaro to start for Central Michigan (9-15, 0-3 MAC) after pitching nine innings Friday and only giving up two runs. A game plan helped the Bobcat hitters prepare for her, and it paid off as she gave up five runs, three earned.

Vaccaro lost control in the third inning, hitting Alex Day and walking two others; one was with the bases loaded to score Day. 

Central Michigan's lone run on the day came from two singles, a sacrifice bunt and steal of third in the fourth inning.

The team was talking about everyone contributing to the offense, and that was evident. Seven different players had a hit; all nine starters reached base.

“I think it just really leads confidence all up and down our order,” Hermanek said. “ It takes the pressure off of some of your hot hitters that they don't always have to be the one. Somebody else can come in and do it for them.” 

Kendall Meeks replaced McCrady on the mound in the sixth and picked up her second save of the weekend, with a scoreless final two innings.

Mikayla Cooper continued her red-hot start to conference play. She hit her team-leading sixth home run of the season. The two-run homer was her third straight game with a home run.

"For my first MAC games, this is awesome," McCrady said. "It was awesome to sweep them and that was our goal.”

Before conference games continue, Ohio will host Pittsburgh (17-11-1, 6-2 Atlantic Coast Conference) Tuesday at 5 p.m.


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