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

Softball: Ohio sits through two rain delays, loses close game to James Madison in NCAA Tournament

KNOXVILLE, Tenn. — Mackenzie Brunswick came up to the plate with a 1-0 count. Michaela Dorsey stood at first base. 

Brunswick's at-bat had started two hours before. Ohio’s first game in the NCAA Tournament had just finished its second rain delay. For 3 1/2 hours, Ohio and James Madison waited. 

After just over two hours of game time — but close to six hours after the scheduled first pitch of 3 p.m. — the Bobcats lost to the Dukes 2-1 on Friday at Sherri Parker Lee Stadium.

“Make no bones about it, having the kind of delays we’ve had, we had a long day,” coach Jodi Hermanek said. “I was proud of (the team's) mental stamina and drive to stay locked in.”

Even with the delays, senior Danielle Stiene continued her dominance in the circle. She gave up her first earned run since May 10, ending a streak that spanned 22 innings over four games.

The first run Stiene allowed was unearned. She allowed her first baserunner of the game in the third inning on a leadoff hit batter but struck out the next two batters. She walked a batter with two outs, giving James Madison a runner in scoring position.

Stiene gave up a ground ball up the middle, which Taylor Saxton speared on a dive. But when Saxton looked to get the force out at second base, shortstop Katie Yun hadn’t made it to the bag yet. As the ball trickled back toward the middle of the infield, James Madison’s Natalie Cutright scrambled home. 

Stiene’s earned run came after the Dukes’ Kate Gordon doubled in a run. It was one of the only solid hits she gave up all day, only allowing four on the game.

“I was a little tighter than what usually am,” Stiene said. “My mechanics were a little tight, but I thought I was spinning the ball well.

The Bobcats didn't have many chances to score, but their best chance came in the second inning. Morgan Geno singled, and Dorsey singled her over to third. Following a walk from Allie Englant, Saxton came up with a chance to get Ohio on the board early, but she struck out to end the inning.

Dorsey’s hit that moved Geno to third gave the Bobcats an early scoring chance. Hermanek, looking back, thought they should have scored on that hit.

“Could I have pinch ran for Morgan Geno with the shot going to the right side? Yeah,” she said. “But we’ve got a short roster, and I don’t want to too many of those early.”

Ohio had one last chance in the seventh when Saxton reached with a bunt single and advanced to second on a throwing error. The Bobcats had their fastest runner on base and the top of the order at bat. But they couldn’t push the run across, and they fell just short.

The Bobcats will play the loser of Tennessee and Monmouth tomorrow at 2:30 p.m. The team is ready to play for their NCAA Tournament lives and possibly get the program's first NCAA Tournament win.

“We’re excited to see tomorrow,” Hermanek said. “It can’t come soon enough.”


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