Ohio caught a break it sorely needs.
In the span of two weeks, it was swept by a conference opponent for the first time in three years, it lost a rubber match game to ultimately lose a series and it lost a night game. Sure, it won a series in dominant fashion, but it was to the worst team in the Mid-American Conference.
That’s why the importance of this coming weekend – where the Bobcats don’t have a trio of games – can’t be stressed enough for a team that, lately, has had more plateaus than peaks.
Coach Kenzie Roark credits the recent skid from a sense of complacency. After they spent most of March at home and earned a 6-1 record in that span, the Bobcats are 3-5 in April, have just two conference series left and sit fourth in the current MAC standings.
Those five loses, while unexpected, were also unsurprising given a couple of components.
Ohio traveled a total of 649.5 miles in two and a half weeks, which means minimal practice time. The Bobcats’ youth in the circle has been exposed, too. Sophomore pitcher Madi McCrady has pitched in over 25 innings in six games for a season total of 176 2/3 innings. The other three Bobcats pitchers have a combined 119 2/3 innings from the circle.
Inversely, the Bobcats’ usually explosive offense has been dormant in April. A sense of resurgence, however, was evident in their series against Akron on April 12-13. They ended both of the games in Saturday’s doubleheader in early innings behind 9-1 and 13-5 scores, respectively. Through 45 games, Ohio has hit 63 home runs compared to a year ago where it hit 57.
With all of the little miscues and uncharacteristic traits for Ohio, Roark believes the bye week couldn’t have come at a better time. The Bobcats will have six practices prior to their last home series when they host rival Miami on April 26-27.
“We’re taking it almost like a blessing,” she said. “We get the time to work on a couple of things that we might not have as much time to work on it. We’re very lucky.”
The months of April and May typically feature minimal down time for various programs across the country because as the weather gets nicer the schedule gets more demanding. Last year, Ohio played in 27 games that includes postseason play and no bye weeks. Though it did have cancellations and postponed games, there was no true bye-week for Ohio.
Regardless, the break is needed for the Bobcats. The defending MAC Champions, if they seriously look to retain their title, will find the peak in their time off.