Ohio (32-22, 20-9 Mid-American Conference) had an up-and-down day with a loss against Miami (36-18, 21-8 Mid-American Conference) and a subsequent win against Central Michigan (29-26, 18-11). Ultimately, Ohio is headed to the MAC Championship series where it will need to beat Miami in back-to-back games to become MAC champions. Here's how it went down:
The Bobcats struggled defensively throughout their 8-4 loss early Friday afternoon against the Redhawks.
Skipp Miller couldn't find strike three as much as she did in the Bobcats' Thursday win over Central Michigan.
The Bobcats' defensive struggles started in the first inning when Tori O'Brien misplayed a popup against Miami's first hitter of the game. Skipp Miller just missed the strike zone for ball four against the next Miami hitter to put runners on first and second with no outs. After a foul out, Miami hitter Riley Coyne made Miller and the Bobcats pay for their mistakes with a three-run home run. Miller was almost chased out of the first inning when Miami had two more hits to increase its lead to 4-0.
Miller completed four innings allowing two earned runs while striking out three Redhawk hitters.
The Bobcats had their first major scoring chance in the top of the fourth inning when Annalia Paoli and Emma Hoffner led off the inning with back-to-back hits. Alexis Dawe struck out in the next at-bat and Sydney Grein popped out to the catcher without advancing either runner. Shelby Westler's lineout prevented the Bobcats from scoring in the fourth.
An Ohio error helped enable Miami to score a run in the bottom of the fourth but an inning later Yasmine Logan got Ohio on the board with a solo home run to left. The Bobcats weren't done in the inning with back-to-back hits from Paoli and Hoffner. Dawe and Grein made productive outs after their groundouts advanced runners, and Grein's groundout scored a run. Shelby Westler hit a single to trim the Red Hawks' lead down to two. With the go-ahead run at the plate, Lauren Yuhas struck out swinging to end the sixth inning.
The sixth inning appeared to be simple for reliever Kylie Coffelt. Coffelt struck out the first two hitters she faced in the sixth, but the Redhawks came back to drive in three runs in the inning including a two-run home run from Karli Spaid.
Paoli hit a home run in the seventh inning to make the score a bit closer, but the Bobcats lost the game 8-4.
Paoli finished the game 4-for-4 with 1 RBI, Hoffner also had a great game as a hitter going 3-for-4.
Ohio had minimal time to rest before its 7-2 win over Central Michigan Friday night. However, Ohio looked just as refreshed as it had the day before against Central Michigan and comfortably handled its conference foe.
Skipp Miller's third start in a day and a half appeared as if it would be a short one. The first three Chippewas hitters reached base in the top of the first, but Miller forced the next three hitters into weak contact to get out of a no outs bases-loaded jam without conceding a run.
The Bobcats found themselves in their advantageous situation as the first two hitters of the game reached base. Paoli's fly-out to right allowed Belle Hummel to advance from second to third, and she was brought in to score after Hoffner singled to right.
The third home run of the day was hit by an Ohio opponent in the third inning. Allyssa Hollo hit a 2-run home run to put the Chippewas in front immediately, but Miller salvaged the inning and kept the Bobcats only down a run. Westler helped the Bobcats respond in the bottom half of the inning with an RBI single to tie the game at two.
A walk from Dawe and a single from Grein put runners on first and second with two outs for Keidel. Keidel singled, and when Tori O'Brien (running for Dawe) tripped on her way from third she was, at least at first, called out at home plate. After a review, O'Brien was awarded home plate and the Bobcats took a 3-2 lead.
With their season in the balance, Hoffner and Paoli continued their huge offensive days with RBI hits in the bottom of the sixth to add to the Bobcats' lead. Paoli's RBI single helped her finish the day 1-for-3 with an RBI while Hoffner went 2-for-4 with three RBIs.
Up five runs in the top of the seventh, Miller ended the Chippewas season forcing Maddie Springer to fly out to Center field.
The Bobcats' loss against the Redhawks in their first game of the day means they will have to win two consecutive games to become MAC Champions, but the game two win over the Chippewas kept the Bobcats' Championship hopes alive.