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Ohio's Morgan Geno swings during the Bobcats' game against Buffalo on April 27. (FILE)

Softball: Morgan Geno has worked her way out of an early-season slump

Morgan Geno thought it was just a pop-up off her bat in the bottom of the third. But with the wind at her back, the ball landed over the wall for her fourth home run in five games.

The two-run homer was the only hit for Geno in a 9-1 win over Buffalo on Friday as Ohio clinched the Mid-American Conference East Division title. 

Earlier in the season, hard-hit balls weren't falling in for Geno. Now, though, they are, and that's due to putting in more work to get out of the slump.

“I kind of told myself, ‘OK, you can sit and feel sorry for yourself, or you can just be resilient and go work harder,’” Geno said.

The non-conference portion of the season usually features challenging opponents and is where the team prepares for the conference season. That does result is some people struggling and having to make changes.

Geno struggled early in the season, hitting .213 in non-conference games with only one home run. She led the team with 10 home runs last year.  

“Conference is your second half so it's just kind of a turning point, you can start over,” Geno said. “So I just told myself it's time to start over, here's your second chance."

She took advantage of that second chance to hit .326 in MAC play with six home runs in 15 games. Geno has driven in 16 runs and has a slugging percentage of .814, best on the team in MAC play.

With Geno being the designated hitter for Ohio in almost every game, she only has to focus on swinging the bat. That can pressure her since that's the way she mainly contributes to the team. She didn't feel any pressure, however, with the team averaging over five runs a game. 

“Morgan is an amazing hitter, and so we weren't stressing, we weren't having pressure on her whatsoever — and she wasn't either,” coach Jodi Hermanek said.

Geno worked her way out of the slump and has helped drive in runs for the Bobcats, which has led to the team averaging just under seven runs scored per game in conference play.  

As a junior, the coaching staff knew she'd work through her struggles and find her swing. Geno finding her stroke coincided with the main portion of MAC games at the beginning of April, and she's since moved up to the third spot in the order. 

“It was just a matter of time before she figured it out, and we all trusted that,” Hermanek said.

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