It’s always good to get in a groove and notch a series of games chalked up as wins early in the season, and that’s exactly what both Ohio and Pitt have done.
Ohio (14-12, 3-0 Mid-American Conference) are the winners of five straight games dating back to March 17 when it beat James Madison 9-7 in extra innings in the James Madison Invitational and a sweep over conference foe Central Michigan in its 2018 home opener last Friday and Saturday in a three-game series.
In those five games, the Bobcats have defeated their opponents by an average 3.4 runs. The one-two tandem of pitchers in freshman Madi McCrady and senior Danielle Stiene have gone 3-0 and 2-0, respectively, with a combined ERA of 3.20.
The two pitchers feed off of one another in a competitive way.
“(Stiene's) always pushing me to get better,” McCrady said. “I’m always trying to compete with her, I love that she’s a senior because it makes it easier to look up to her as a leader.”
Not only has Ohio’s pitching core sparked, but offensive flares have glared, especially in its conference opener against Central Michigan.
In the three-game series, the Bobcats scored 17 runs in 31 hits, which included senior first basemen Mikayla Cooper’s three home runs and junior third basemen Alex Day’s lone home run in the last game of Friday’s double header.
With all of the recent success, Ohio’s streak will be challenged by an up-and-coming Pitt team. The Panthers (17-11-1, 6-2-0 Atlantic Coast Conference) are the winners of four straight, all of which have been on the road and in conference play.
To differentiate the two programs in terms of wins and losses, Ohio started off the year on a win-win, loss-loss flow of play. Whereas Pitt rattled off five wins in nine games.
According to the NCAA Women’s Softball rating percentage index, which ranks teams based upon win-loss record and strength of schedule, per this formula, Ohio and Pitt are only separated by three spots with Pitt ranked as the higher team at No. 72 and Ohio at No. 75 out of 296 programs.
With such proximity in computer rankings, as well as budding win streaks, Ohio’s current slew of above-average pitching, offensive firepower and overall team togetherness must continue in order for it to win games over opponents of similar strength.
“We’ve come a long way in the last five weeks,” coach Jodi Hermanek said. “We’ve competed really really hard and it takes a big team effort (to win).”
First pitch of Tuesday’s game is slated for 5 p.m. at Ohio Softball Field.