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Sophomore Justice Palmer (23) hits the ball at the game against Kent State on April 11, 2023, at Bob Wren Stadium, in Athens, Ohio.

Softball: Ohio splits shortened series with Northern Illinois to remain atop MAC standings

In a tough road series, Ohio (24-18, 14-6 Mid-American Conference) was able to find a way to manage a series split over the weekend against Northern Illinois (19-19, 9-7 MAC). 

The teams split a doubleheader Saturday while the final game Sunday was canceled due to snow in DeKalb, Illinois. 

Here is the recap from the weekend on the road for the Bobcats:

Game 1

Ohio was the first team to strike in the opening inning with Alexis Dawe homering to center field to put the Bobcats up 1-0. It was Dawe’s second home run of the season.

Northern Illinois climbed back in the second with a home run of their own, as Sam Mallinder hit her second of the season to tie the game at one. Northern Illinois continued to put the pressure on as Ohio committed a throwing error, allowing Kiley Connor to reach home to make it 2-1 in favor of Northern Illinois. 

Mallinder would keep up her excellent offensive performance, hitting a single to drive in the third run for the Huskies. Mallinder finished the game 2-3 with two RBIs, including her homerun in the first, for one of her best offensive performances of the year. 

Ohio and NIU traded runs in the fourth inning, as Ohio scored off CiCi Keidel’s double that drove in Sydney Grein to bring the lead down to one run. Northern Illinois’ small ball play style paid off once again as Courtney James’ RBI bunt single pushed the lead back to two. 

Annalia Paoli would start the second attempt at a comeback as her single scored Lauren Yuhas, but the comeback came up short as Ohio couldn’t build anything in the sixth and seventh inning, and NIU protected the lead to win 4-3. 

Game 2

In the second game of the day, it appeared as though Ohio benefited greatly from seeing a new pitcher in the circle as it jumped all over Delaney Ostrowski, chasing her after one inning of work. 

The offensive attack began with a Belle Hummel single. Yasmine Logan followed that up with a bunt single to put two runners on base for the middle of the order. Although Alexis Dawe hit into a fielder’s choice that erased Hummel, Ohio was still in a great position to get on the board first again. On an attempted double steal, Logan was thrown out, but Dawe advanced to second before Emma Hoffner drove her in with an RBI single. Paoli then hit a towering home run to give Ohio an early 3-0 lead. 

It is easy to say that any team is best when its first two hitters are producing, but it is especially true when it comes to the Bobcats. Simply put, it does not matter what order the combination of Paoli, Dawe and Hoffner is in, as the trio will drive in runs regardless. However, having Hummel and Logan on base makes life so much easier as playing from ahead is a more reliable gameplan. 

Regardless, Ohio was not done adding to its early lead as Shelby Westler hit a leadoff home run to begin the second inning. As Kylie Coffelt continued to mow down Northern Illinois, Ohio was setting itself up for a feel-good victory. 

In the next few innings, after Ohio upped its lead to 4-0, but NIU made a comeback attempt, pushing the game to 4-3 before Ohio scored another four runs to make it 8-3. A 3-run double for Kaci Branch in the fourth highlighted the effort from Ohio to put away NIU for good. 

Game 3

The snowed-out game is not going to be made up by the teams. As postseason play nears, there are potential implications for the cancellation as both squads look to secure spots in the upcoming MAC Tournament. 



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