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Alexis Dawe (6) cuts the ball off from home after Toledo hits another double in the first inning of the double header on Wednesday, April 26, 2023.

Softball: Ohio takes huge step forward in successful 2023 campaign

Ohio softball saw a revitalization of its softball program in its first year under new head coach Jenna Hall. Ohio’s 32-23 record included a 20-9 Mid-American Conference record, showing marked improvement from its 2022 season by nine wins on the stat sheet. 

One of the main themes of the season was Ohio's ability to come through in clutch situations. It felt as though when the pressure was the highest, Ohio was simply bound to come through. The clutch plays did not come from one individual alone as almost every member of the roster experienced a moment in the spotlight. 

Jenna Hall and her staff breathed a breath of fresh air into a program that, at times, appeared to be stagnant and unable to break through the ceiling to reach the next level of conference tiers. Players raved about Hall’s positivity and how she took hold of the program. Hall was able to preach a simple message to the team: play for the team, do what is within control and don’t get outside of oneself. This message is something that seemed to resonate with the players, aiding tremendously in the turnaround. 

One of the places where the team was really able to improve was in the batter’s box. Although some of the numbers do not suggest as much improvement, the intangible results were far greater. The Bobcats were able to play better situational softball, such as taking an extra base on a ball in the gap, bunting runners over with less than two outs and taking pitches early in the game are all evidence of an enhanced approach at the plate. 

Offensively, the biggest contributor was Annalia Paoli. She had a slump in the middle of the season after a torrid start to the season. Paoli’s 12 home runs topped her total from her previous season, adding to her illustrious career total of 26 home runs, now standing alone in 8th place all-time for Ohio. 

Paoli was far from alone in the lineup as Yasmine Logan had a breakout season on both sides, hitting for an OPS of 1.046 while clubbing 12 home runs and driving in 39 runs. Logan was a key sparkplug to the lineup, setting the tone for the big bats behind her or even taking matters into her own hands. Outside of Logan, Alexis Dawe broke out after a pair of down seasons and became the marquee left-batter for Ohio. Emma Hoffner was not only incredible behind the plate but also contributed more than her fair share offensively. 

The true reason for the massive improvement for Ohio was its pitching staff. Now using the duo of Skipp Miller and Kylie Coffelt, Ohio lowered its team ERA by nearly a run and a half from 2022. Ohio went from having a team ERA of 4.54 in 2022 to 3.11 ERA in 2023. Miller was particularly special, anchoring the staff with a 2.59 ERA in just over 200 innings. A true workhorse, Miller was sidelined for her entire freshman season with an arm injury. Miller appeared to be some sort of a missing piece as she was able to consistently produce in the circle. 

Not to be forgotten or overshadowed, Coffelt was also very successful in her final season donning the green and white. Coffelt had a 3.65 ERA in just under 120 innings, working a 1.49 WHIP. 

Moreover, the Bobcats are not slated to be losing too many players as the team inherited by Hall was, generally speaking, a younger one. To that degree, freshmen like Miller, Belle Hummel and Shelby Westler were given prominent roles on the team and all contributed. 

The future lies in the hands of the Bobcats. Hall has established a solid foundation for a winning culture in the years to come. However, the challenge is one that lies in a familiar place. Miami has become one of the Bobcat’s most trying opponents, defeating them twice in the MAC Tournament to end their season. Taking the next step and continuing to improve next season with more expectations surrounding the program will be the next challenge that Hall and company have in store as they look to end a short drought without making the NCAA Tournament.



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