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Taylor Saxton, left, and Mikayla Cooper high-five after an out during Ohio's game against Buffalo on Friday. The Bobcats beat the Bulls 9-1. 

Softball: Ohio uses looseness in Friday's win over Buffalo

Just seconds after Mikayla Cooper coasted into second with her second extra-base hit of the game, she flexed in the direction of the Ohio dugout. Assistant coach Brooke Donovan raised her hands in response to Cooper’s flex. 

The Bobcats are loose, and for good reason. They are 16-2 in the Mid-American Conference and have won 21 of their last 23 games, including Friday’s 9-1, five-inning win over Buffalo at Ohio Softball Field.

Cooper’s double was one of her three hits — she came up just a single short of the cycle. She only had three at-bats, too.

“I did what I could when I was up at bat,” she said. 

Games like Friday have been commonplace since the start of conference play. It was Ohio’s sixth run rule win since MAC play started March 23. 

The looseness that the Bobcats have been playing with has been key. It’s something they strive for, and it’s something they have achieved in conference play.

“You’ll hear it 1,000 times when we're up there: Just stay loose,” Cooper said.

When the Bobcats are loose, it’s obvious. When the team is tense, like it was Wednesday against Marshall, some struggles are apparent. Senior ace Danielle Stiene walked two of the first three batters. The offense struggled in spots.

The looseness was in full effect Friday, though. The Bobcats were able to score nine runs in five innings, five of those coming from home runs — Cooper, Alex Day and Morgan Geno all went deep. They have been the usual suspects for home runs; those three are the team leaders in home runs. 

Cooper, Day and Geno aren’t the only one’s providing power for the Bobcats. Katie Yun is tied with Geno, and Michaela Dorsey is just behind those four.

“Every single person on this team has power,” Geno said. 

The looseness has been a big part of the success. Ohio has won all conference season and will most likely continue to. They will continue to hit well, and the pitching will continue to be strong. Even as the approach to a MAC regular season title — and more importantly the No. 1 seed in the conference tournament — continues, any target on the back of the Bobcats won’t be felt. 

“We’ve been having a lot of fun playing softball,” coach Jodi Hermanek said. “As you kind of accumulate the target on your back and the first-seeded team thing, most people see that as pressure. We don’t talk about it. We’re just talking about playing our best game.”


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