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Sophomore Emma Hoffner (7) catches a missed pitch at the game against Ball State on April 2, 2023, in Athens, Ohio. (Megan VanVlack | For The Post)

Softball: Ohio uses great pitching, timely hitting to sweep Ball State doubleheader

On yet another overcast day, Ohio was able to repeat its winning result from the day prior against Ball State in a doubleheader sweep. 

Ohio brought out the brooms for the third straight series as it extended its win streak to nine games. As the win streak grows for Ohio, the confidence does the same. A dominant 10-2 game one win was punctuated by a walk-off single by Shelby Westler to enact the mercy rule. The second game was more of a pitcher’s duel as the teams only scored in two innings, but Ohio also emerged with the win, 4-2. 

In the first game, Ohio wasted no time, scoring in the first inning off an RBI double from Alexis Dawe. The first baseman for Ohio went a combined 4-6 with 2 RBI over Sunday’s games. 

The second frame started off with a bang for Ohio as Westler hit a leadoff double. Westler scored on a bunt attempt by CiCi Keidel that was thrown away down the right-field line. Ohio kept the line moving as Keidel scampered home on a sac fly to make the score 3-0 after two innings. 

Ohio’s offensive attack continued in the next inning as it scored two more runs that were aided by a Ball State error. With runners on second and third with no outs, Sydney Grein hit a shallow fly ball to center that was caught, but the throw to third was wide of the base, allowing Ohio to get another run on the board. 

One of the runners to score on that play was Lauren Yuhas, who pinch ran for Dawe after her second double of the game. 

“(I) just hit it where it was pitched,” Dawe said. “I know I was going to see both inside and outside (pitches) and just wanted to take them where I’m supposed to.” 

Another inning where the Bobcats scored another couple of runs felt like an afterthought with how well Kylie Coffelt was pitching. Coffelt was in a rhythm from the first pitch, only faltering to a slight degree toward the end of her outing. Regardless, Coffelt went the entire game, picking up her sixth complete game of the season. 

The Bobcats triggered the mercy rule by going up by eight runs in the bottom of the sixth on Westler’s RBI single. The walk-off of sorts marked the end of a 10-2 triumph for the Bobcats.

A mere 40 minutes later, Skipp Miller took the mound for the second straight day, looking to secure the sweep for Ohio. In the 4-2 victory, Miller was superb, allowing just two runs and piling up five strikeouts. 

The focus on the past few games for Ohio was certainly the offense, but the pitching and defense keyed Ohio to its game two victory. Miller’s brilliance on the mound, coupled with incredible defense, was enough for Ohio to outlast Ball State. 

Ohio did not get on the board until the 3rd inning, a late start compared to its standards set in the last few games. A Belle Hummel RBI single set the stage for three straight RBI doubles from Yasmine Logan, Annalia Paoli and Dawe to make it 4-0. 

That was all the scoring for Ohio against a combination of Francys King and Angelina Russo of Ball State, two pitchers that both appeared in Saturday’s game. 

Miller took care of business for the Bobcats, maneuvering around a two-run home run by Haley Wynn to shut down the Cardinals. Miller kept a rather potent offense at bay, continuing the great work that Coffelt had started in the previous game. 

“Anytime you can get complete games from your pitchers, you know that things are working really well,” Ohio coach Jenna Hall said. “We had two really different pitchers… so every time an opponent is going to get a different look. I think that’s what helps us in the long run.”

One of the key reasons for that was catcher Emma Hoffner’s fabulous handling of her pitchers, spanning both games. 

“It gets really hard on my body, but it is just about getting outs for our pitchers,“ Hoffner said. "They do so much out there for us and the whole thing behind the plate, and when I am at the plate, we want to do everything for our pitchers because they are working their butts off.”

Moreover, Ohio locked down defensively in the second game, not committing a single error after recording three in game one. Having limited, or in this case, zero, self-inflicted mistakes makes pitching that much easier for Coffelt, Miller or whoever is given the ball. 

One of the most important results for Ohio was the fact that its current win streak has propelled it to first place in the MAC as it currently sits at 10-2 in conference play. While perfection is far from expected, Ohio is setting itself up for a wildly successful season should recent trends continue. 


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