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Taylor Saxton and the Ohio dugout cheer during the Bobcats' game against Akron on April 13. (FILE)

Softball: Ohio clinches second regular season title in program history in series win

After beating Bowling Green twice, Ohio has now won all eight Mid-American Conference series this year. The Bobcats won their second regular season title in program history. 

When Ohio won in 1995, 23 years ago, none of the current players were born yet.

Ohio (34-15, 20-3 MAC) will now go into the MAC Tournament as the No. 1 seed in the bracket and the favorites to win.

It was the lowest scoring weekend of the year for Ohio, with only nine runs, but the Bobcats only gave up only four runs behind solid pitching.

Taking advantage of the limited opportunities was key for the Ohio hitters; clutch hits were the difference.

Friday

A walk-off walk spoiled the celebrations in Game One of the series as Bowling Green (26-26, 8-14 MAC) came back to win, 3-2. 

With ace Danielle Stiene on the mound, Ohio had a 2-1 lead going into the bottom of the sixth, having only allowed three hits up to that point. An error by Alex Day put one runner on base before Aspen Searle, Bowling Green’s best hitter, doubled to score the run and tie the game.

In the bottom of the seventh, two singles and an intentional walk loaded the bases with one out. A fielder's choice gave Ohio hope of escaping the inning but that didn't happen as Stiene issued her first unintentional walk of the game with no open bases.

Allie Englant led the Bobcats with two hits on the day and reached base in all three of her at-bats. After reaching on an error in the fifth inning, bunts by Taylor Saxton and Mikayla Cooper brought her home.

Ohio added a second run on a bases-loaded single by Katie Yun that scored Cooper, but could not continue the rally as Morgan Geno was thrown out at the plate to end the inning.

In her first loss in the MAC this year, Stiene threw a complete game, allowing six hits and only one earned run while striking out seven.

The winning run was the only run that was earned out of the five that scored. The teams combined to make five errors and capitalize on the opportunities when hitting.  

Saturday

The low scoring games continued in Game One of the doubleheader. Ohio won 3-1 behind solid pitching and clutch hitting from Englant.

The Bobcats had runners on first and second with two outs in the fourth inning and, Englant came through to extend the lead. Her two-run double to left-center brought home the deciding runs.

Madi McCrady started for Ohio but it was a team effort, as Kendall Meeks relieved her with one out in the fourth, and Stiene came in with one aboard in the seventh to close out the win.

Michaela Dorsey started the scoring with a solo homer in second inning, her first since the Miami series April 20 and her seventh of the season. 

In all three plate appearances, Mackenzie Brunswick reached base with two singles and a walk 

In Game Two, Stiene was two outs away from a no-hitter, as Ohio won 4-0 to win the series.

Stiene threw her second complete game of the weekend, allowing just one hit and one walk while striking out seven. That was the fifth time this season that Stiene has thrown a complete game while allowing one hit. 

Ohio had only four hits in the final game of the series but was able to take advantage of its opportunities. 

The scoring was opened with a solo home run by Yun in the fourth inning, her eighth of the season. 

Brunswick reached base in every at-bat again and scored two runs.

With runners on second and third for Ohio in the fifth, Day, the team leader in RBIs (43), hit a two-run single for insurance runs.

On Deck

Ohio heads to the MAC Tournament, which begins May 9. As the top seed, Ohio will take on Miami on May 9 at 1 p.m.

@TREricWalker

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