All it took was one swing of Michaela Dorsey's bat. Her two-run home run gave Ohio a 2-0 in the third inning. Those two runs were all Danielle Stiene needed.
Behind the bat of Dorsey and the pitching of Stiene, Ohio beat Northern Illinois 2-0 to win the Mid-American Conference Championship for the second time in program history.
Ohio did what it couldn’t do last year: win a game on the Saturday of the Mid-American Conference tournament.
The memories of the two losses to Kent State a year ago in the MAC Championship were still fresh for the Bobcats, who returned seven of the nine starting hitters from the past two years.
“Hell of a day,” head coach Jodi Hermanek told GetSomeMaction.com. “Amazing accomplishment by an awesome team that’s been determined after last year being on this field and not getting our way, what we wanted to earn.”
Throughout the season, the Bobcats discussed how the difficult opponents they faced in non-conference play would help in games after the MAC Tournament. Now the team will play in the NCAA Tournament against some of the best teams in the country.
Taylor Saxton is now the only player in program history to have won two MAC tournament titles; she was a freshman in 2014 when the Bobcats won their first.
After Friday’s game, Stiene said the team was going to win Saturday. Behind her third complete game shutout of the tournament and 13th of the season, it did.
Facing the same team she threw a no-hitter against Friday, the same result wasn't yielded. But Stiene gave up just two hits and one walk while striking out six Huskies.
In the sixth inning, Northern Illinois came close to scoring. The Huskies had runners on first and second with two outs, but Stiene escaped by forcing a fly out to center.
Stiene allowed just one run in 27 innings pitched in Ohio’s four tournament games while striking out 31. Her pitching performances mirrored those of Savannah Jo Dorsey in 2014, who allowed only one run in four games.
Michaela Dorsey's two-run homer in the second inning was Ohio's only offense. Morgan Geno began the inning with a walk, and pinch runner Deanna Cole stole second before Dorsey smashed the ball over the left-field fence.
Dorsey came into the game without a hit in the tournament and only one in the previous six games.
After scoring eight runs against the Northern Illinois pitching on Friday, Ohio only managed five hits. Fittingly, Ohio — and Stiene, the MAC Pitcher of the Year — came out on top as it has done all season in conference games.
The Bobcats averaged over one home run per game and used them throughout the season. But they only had one all tournament, and it was in the championship game.
“My goal for this group is to play in the championship game at the regional,” Hermanek said. “We’ve been there before, and now we want to take it a step further for this program.”
In 2014, the Bobcats lost both of their games at the Lexington Regional to Kentucky and DePaul by scores of 2-0 and 5-1, respectively.
Ohio will find out what regional it is in and who it plays in the NCAA Tournament on Sunday at 10 p.m. on ESPN2.