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Ohio's Mikayla Cooper grinds to a halt as she runs to second during the Bobcats' game against Akron on Friday. (FILE)

Softball: Dominant performance leads Ohio over Akron in 12-0 win

Mikayla Cooper stepped into the batter’s box and watched the first pitch go by. On the second, she swung and started the trot to first base without looking at where the ball went.

Cooper’s ninth home run of the season was just the start of the offensive showcase displayed Saturday, as Ohio defeated Akron 12-0 in a Mid-American Conference matchup.

In Friday's doubleheader, bits and pieces of the Bobcats’ (25-13, 13-1 MAC) usual offensive prowess shone, but not in the style they’re accustomed to.

The difference in 18 hours provided the Bobcats with a quick memory and — after back-to-back home runs in their first two at-bats — any glimpse of Friday’s up-and-down performance were vanished.

“The past couple of games have not been the best for me,” Cooper said. “This morning, I went and hit just to try and get my feel-good swing back.”

Cooper’s “feel-good” swing roared back and stirred up the rest of the Ohio offense, which had 11 hits in four innings.

With two home runs and a Morgan Geno single that led to two fielding errors from the Zips, the Bobcats scored twice more and held a commanding 4-0 lead in the first inning.

If four hits and four runs weren’t enough, Ohio put Akron’s hopes of a comeback to bed in the third inning.

Geno singled again, and the Zips again committed a fielding error, allowing Michaela Dorsey to score.

From there, the flood gates erupted.

Mackenzie Brunswick hit an RBI triple, Taylor Saxton slapped an RBI single and Katie Yun hit a three-run home run.

When Akron finally managed to earn that venerated third out, Ohio had scored eight runs off seven hits.

A strong lead early does more than just give confidence to the batter — it reassures the pitchers. In her 20th start this year, Danielle Stiene settled in the circle and played behind the strength of her defense.

Stiene was critical of her performance — in which she gave up just one hit to the 16 batters she faced — but knows it was good enough.

“It was nice to have the team behind me because I didn’t necessarily have all of my best stuff for this week,” she said. “It feels good to know that offensively and defensively we have a nice round circle.”

A true team win in the sense that the offense was on par with its usual production, tight pitching and strong defense, it’s the package Ohio strives for.

Coach Jodi Hermanek noticed the more conscious effort in her team’s fight for that fixated package right off the bat as she said the confidence of the team — despite Friday’s mediocre performance — was still high.

“I’m a lot more proud of this win today because it felt like a bigger team win,” Hermanek said. “That’s what we challenged each other before today is to come out and be better with our intent and energy.”

Challenge accepted.

On deck

Ohio will make the almost 74-mile journey northwest Tuesday as it plays Ohio State in a non-conference doubleheader.


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