As soon as Mikenzie Vaughn’s bat made contact, the entire stadium knew it was gone.
“As soon as it hit the bat,“ Ohio coach Kenzie Roark said, “I had a good feeling about it. I knew right off the bat.”
It was just seconds after Vaughn’s walk-off home run was hit that the Bobcats exited their dugout to surround her as she trotted to home plate, celebrating the win over Bowling Green. Friday was filled with emotions high and low, but it was all worth it for the Bobcats when they beat the Falcons 4-3 Friday afternoon at Ohio Softball Field.
“A lot of things didn’t go our way today,“ Roark said. “It didn’t matter. We just kept fighting and figured it out in the end.”
The game-winner was just one part of what Roark described as a complete team victory. The Bobcats (13-13, 9-8 Mid-American Conference) made it to extra innings thanks to two home runs from Katie Yun, which brought in three scores in the first and sixth innings. The second home run, which scored both Yun and Allie Englant, came at a pivotal moment when the Falcons had a 3-1 lead.
Ohio also had the opportunity to win thanks to a gutsy performance from Madi McCrady, who pitched all nine innings for the Bobcats.
“Madi (McCrady) came to compete today,“ Roark said. “She showed grit in very tough situations.”
McCrady threw a whopping 133 pitches Friday, and her best moments came when Ohio needed it most. In the ninth inning, it appeared that Bowling Green’s Marlie McNulty was out at second after a bunt from Nikki Sorgi, but it was ruled that her path was being blocked. This put two Falcons on base and Roark argued with the umpires, which lead to her ejection.
Even under pressure, McCrady managed to strike out two straight batters to leave McNulty and Sorgi stranded without scoring, giving Ohio a chance to put the game away.
Prior to the ninth inning, Vaughn was 0-for-3 on batting, coming close to getting a hit, but not close enough.
“She had been so close,“ Roark said. “Barely just missing the last couple of balls that she had been making contact with.”
Not this time. After Ohio had came close to taking the lead multiple times earlier in the game, Vaughn decided that it was time to finish things for good. With no one else on base, she swung. The sound of the contact let the teams and stands know that Vaughn ended the game right there. Roark, who was outside the stadium, held the game-winning ball up high as she reunited with her players.
It was a long fought and tiring start to the series with Bowling Green, but a walk-off home run isn’t a bad way to start a weekend off.
“I told them today, ‘play seven innings,‘“ Roark said. “They played nine.”