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Ohio senior Kylie Coffelt pitches against Northern Illinois during the second game of the double header on Saturday, April 23, 2022 at the Ohio University softball field.

Softball: Ohio sweeps double header against Toledo behind strong performances from Paoli, Rice

Ohio has all but clinched a spot in the Mid-American Conference Tournament. A double header sweep over Toledo Wednesday put Ohio’s conference record at 16-8 and gave it a healthy lead over fifth-place.

The Bobcats captured Wednesday’s wins the same way they have for much of the season, with an overpowering offense and just enough drive in the circle.

And as usual, that offense was led by Annalia Paoli, who is having an incredible season. The sophomore third baseman had a pair of three-run home runs Wednesday, and they came in back-to-back innings.

In the top of the seventh inning of the first game, Paoli helped spare Ohio from an embarrassing collapse with a home run to ensure the win. After that, she got Ohio started in the second game with a three-run home run to put it ahead 4-0 before recording a single out.

Paoli’s four hits and six RBIs Wednesday improved her season numbers to a .390 batting average, an absurd 1.149 OPS, 10 home runs and 34 RBIs in 43 games.

Paoli was not the only Ohio hitter to put up some big numbers Wednesday, however, as catcher Brooke Rice, who has emerged as one of Ohio’s most important hitters, had two of the biggest hits of the day.

First, her grand slam in the third inning of game one was a major reason that Ohio was able to jump out to a big lead. Second, her game-winning RBI single in the sixth inning of game two gave Ohio the much-needed double header sweep.

Unfortunately for the Bobcats, a worrying trend from their past few games continued Wednesday as they committed five errors across the two games.

Ohio, which had been such a good defensive team through the first month of conference play, has now committed 16 errors across its last five games.

There is a different ongoing trend, however, that is a great sign for Ohio. Kylie Coffelt has been consistently improving over the course of the season, and that was the case again Wednesday as she authored a complete game in game two of the double header. Coffelt allowed just three earned runs across seven innings.

The Bobcats certainly have some things to clean up before the MAC Tournament, but there are plenty of encouraging signs as well. Wednesday’s double header sweep has all but secured their spot in the four-team postseason tournament, and they will be a significant threat to whoever they play.

@willocunningham

wc425318@ohio.edu

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