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Ohio infielder Mikayla Cooper swings during the Bobcats' game against Central Michigan on Friday.

Softball: Ohio opens conference play with two wins

In its regular season and Mid-American Conference home-opening series, Ohio defeated Central Michigan in both games of Friday’s doubleheader.

Game one

Senior first baseman Mikayla Cooper stepped up to plate at the bottom of the first inning, swung and missed at the first pitch, and let the second one fly by.

She was waiting for her pitch and, down two strikes, knew it was on its way.

On the third, Cooper pulled back and hit a line drive home run over the left-center field wall.

“Being a senior, the team really feeds off of me,” Cooper said. “I’m one of the loudest people on the field, so I feel like once I set the tone with my pace, it’s just going to keep the hits flowing.”

Her lead-off home run got the hits to flow, and Ohio powered its offense early to a 4-3 win over Central Michigan in its first MAC game.

Already up 1-0 after just the leadoff batter, the Bobcats got into an offensive groove when three of the next four at-bats ended in hits — a double, an RBI triple and an RBI double — that paved the way to an early 3-0 lead.

“We have a motto, 'No one wants to play us in the seventh, but get on them early,'” Cooper said. “That’s also nice because we can sit back, relax and play our game.”

To coincide with the Bobcats' offensive production, freshman pitcher Madi McCrady was one inning shy of a complete game.

The freshman allowed six hits and three runs, two of which came off a two-run home run in the seventh inning that led coach Jodi Hermanek to call for a pitching change. Sophomore transfer Kendall Meeks closed out the game in a one-two-three manner.

“(McCrady) did a great job; I was impressed,” Hermanek said. “She didn’t have her best control day today, and that’s the fun part about it — she’s still winning.”

Game two

Ohio’s offensive firepower carried into the second game of the doubleheader as it defeated Central Michigan 8-5.

Much like Ohio’s first game, the start of game two was eerily similar, as Cooper sent a ball deep into right field and over the wall as she tallied another home run to tie the game at one. Junior third baseman Alex Day, batting second, followed up with a home run of her own.

The Bobcats scored two more runs in the inning and held a three-run lead over the Chippewas that would remain locked until redshirt junior Michaela Dorsey hit an RBI single in the second to give Ohio a 5-1 lead.

Senior pitcher Danielle Stiene pitched three consecutive shutout innings after the first inning as the Bobcats looked to wrap up the latter of Friday’s doubleheader.

Unfortunately, with two outs left, trouble started for Stiene and the Bobcats as the Chippewas rattled off hit after hit when a pop fly single sent home a baserunner and tied the game up at 5.

Yet, with four runs given up in one inning, Cooper never doubted her pitcher.

“We can play behind our pitchers and not feel pressured,” Cooper said. “That’s one of the biggest things for us in the infield is to think, ‘No pressure, we’re the best defenders around.’”

In full circle, the Bobcats' quick offensive start echoed the end of the game, as junior catcher Natalie Alvarez hit an RBI double that gave the Bobcats the winning run.

With RBIs from Dorsey and freshman Allie Englant, the Bobcats cemented their victories in Friday's doubleheader.

On deck

Ohio will wrap up its three-game series with Central Michigan on Saturday.


Correction: A previous version of this photo caption incorrectly spelled Mikayla Cooper's name. The caption has been updated to reflect the most accurate information.

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