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Ohio infielder Brenna Farmer (13) gets ready to bat against Northern Illinois at Ohio Softball Field in Athens, Apr. 7, 2024.

Softball: Ohio splits doubleheader with Toledo as push to MAC Tournament intensifies

Ohio (22-20, 9-7 Mid-American Conference) began its most pivotal stretch to this point in the season as it prepared to play against two of the four teams ranked above them in the MAC. Against Toledo (20-17, 11-6 MAC), Ohio was able to manage a split by scraping by a late-inning rally in the second game. Splitting the pair of games against Toledo is big for Ohio as it can then keep pace in the standings.

Here is what you need to know from the doubleheader: 

Game 1

Ohio’s first game against Toledo was one to forget. With Skipp Miller in the circle, Ohio was outmatched in nearly every category of play. In the first inning alone, Miller surrendered three singles, the second of which was an RBI for Riley Mohr to put Toledo on top 1-0. The second inning was not much kinder to Miller as she gave up an RBI double to Maris Barbato to double the lead for Toledo. 

Miller’s struggles continued in early innings have been well-documented this season, but Ohio usually finds a way to work around these issues to back up its ace. However, Ohio was silenced by Toledo starter Mady Yackee through the first three innings. It was not until the fourth when Lauren Yuhas hit a single, that Yackee’s perfect game bid was ended.

However, the game would completely unravel at the bottom of the fourth for Ohio. After Miller retired the first batter of the inning, a double, single and walk loaded the bases for Barbato. She was able to drive in a pair on an RBI single. The next batter would reach on a bunt single and was driven in on an RBI single by Sidney Griffith. Although Miller benefitted from a nice play to nab a runner on the bases, the damage was already done and Ohio was staring at a 6-0 deficit. 

Yackee continued to dominate and Toledo tacked on another run in the fifth to make it 7-0. Ohio was able to string together a pair of hits in the top of the seventh, but it was too late for any magic. Ohio ended the game with just 4 hits and a shutout loss.

Game 2

For its second game, Ohio turned to freshman Mikie Lieving to attempt to salvage a game while Toledo handed the ball right back to Yackee for her second straight start. Ohio managed to get a hit earlier in the game as Yuhas bunted for a knock.

Luckily for the Bobcats, their starter got off to a strong start to the game, posting a scoreless first inning, matching the start for Yackee. The pair of freshmen continued to alternate zeroes on the scoreboard as the pitching duel continued into the middle innings. With no runs on the board for either squad, the most that they could do was hit singles.

The pitching duel waged on with neither pitcher looking too keen on letting it end. Lieving was mowing down Toledo’s offense while Ohio was trying to get something going offensively, only to fall just short of scoring. In the sixth, Ohio looked to have its best chance at scoring, with leadoff hitter Belle Hummel walking and advancing on a sacrifice bunt. With a runner in scoring position for the second time in the game, Ohio had its best hitters coming up. Yasmine Logan, the ever-reliable option at the plate, flew out for the second out before Sydney Grein walked to extend the frame. Ohio head coach Jenna Hall decided to bring Annalia Paoli in to pinch hit in a big spot. Paoli would ground out to shortstop, ending the inning. 

Another shutdown inning from Lieving allowed Ohio to get another crack at scoring on Yackee. Entering the seventh inning, Yackee had thrown 13.0 scoreless innings on the day. Brenna Farmer reached on an error with one out and Shelby Westler’s single brought CiCi Keidel to the plate with a chance to put Ohio on top. Keidel would hit a double to right-center to plate a run for Ohio, its first of the day. Yackee would be relieved by Knight, but the damage was done. 

With Ohio scoring another 2 runs in the inning off the bat of Yuhas, Lieving was given a cushion to complete the shutout, the second of her career. The late-inning victory was huge for Ohio heading into its meeting with Western Michigan this weekend as it returns home for one of the most important series of its season. 


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