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Ohio catcher/infielder, Emma Hoffner (7) and Ohio pitcher, Ellie Greene (7), during a game against Western Michigan at Ohio Softball Field, April 21, 2024, in Athens.

Softball: Ohio comes up big to win series against Western Michigan

For the first half of the third game in its series against Western Michigan (23-19, 12-7 Mid-American Conference), Ohio (23-21, 11-8 MAC) appeared destined for a similar fate that it saw in game one of the doubleheader the day prior. While the incredible comeback efforts in game two gave the Bobcats a chance to come out of the series on top, they still had a hurdle to climb with a talented pitcher set against them in game three.

Ohio kept itself in the game while making the proper adjustments to break through on the way to a 7-4 victory. 

Facing Rissa Bajusz, the conference’s leader in strikeouts, the Bobcats needed to play at a high level defensively to keep the game close. Ohio gave the ball to Ellie Greene, seeing as Skipp Miller and Mikie Lieving threw over 100 pitches Saturday. The last time the Bobcat faithful saw Greene, she threw a complete game, the first of her Division I career. Against Western Michigan, it was a different story. 

A leadoff walk for Western Michigan’s Addison Hudson, combined with a heads-up baserunning play on a sacrifice bunt, set the stage for an RBI single by Riley Dittmar. The hit gave Western Michigan a 1-0 lead, an advantage that seemed much larger considering how Bajusz was dominating Ohio. 

After Greene allowed the Broncos to load the bases, Bobcats coach Jenna Hall came out to make a pitching change, bringing in Miller, who struck out her first batter to end the first-inning jam. 

Ohio infielder, Lauren Yuhas (1), throws the ball during a game against Western Michigan at Ohio Softball Field, April 21, 2024, in Athens.

Payton Kelly, who saw Miller well in game one, started the third inning with a double down the left-field line. Miller nearly escaped unscathed; however, Bajusz helped her own cause by beating out an infield single, extending the Western Michigan lead to 2-0. 

Yasmine Logan led off the bottom of the inning and drove a pitch to right-center field for a double. Logan would later come around to score on a single by Lauren Yuhas to make it a 1 run game. 

Miller sat down Western Michigan in order once again, allowing her offense to get going. After Annalia Paoli was hit by a pitch with one out, Logan stepped to the plate with the chance to ignite some more offense. She did just that, launching a home run to dead center field, giving Ohio its first lead on her ninth home run of the season. 

“(Logan) has been a little bit up and down, and she knows what she is capable of,” Hall said. “She knows the kind of dynamic player that she can be, so it was really good to see her swing with confidence.” 

Logan’s homer knocked Bajusz out of the circle in the fourth, with Western Michigan opting to bring in Jensen Gremillion in relief. With two in scoring position and Sydney Grein at the plate, a wild pitch allowed Yuhas to score, and an errant throw by the catcher also allowed Emma Hoffner, the runner on second, to score. 

Members of the Ohio softball team gather on the field to celebrate as they get another run during a game against Western Michigan at Ohio Softball Field, April 21, 2024, in Athens.

With 2 runs already in off errors, Grein kept the scoring going with a home run to give the Bobcats a 6-2 lead. Grein has slowly stepped into a bigger role for the Bobcats after starting the season with minimal playing time. 

“It has definitely been ‘How can I get better?’ all the way through,” Grein said. “Even now, it’s just every day building off the day before whether I’m playing or not.” 

Miller was able to shut the door from there. With its series win, Ohio moves up to No. 4 in the MAC, one game behind Western Michigan. Ohio will be looking to hold its position in the MAC ahead of the MAC Tournament at the end of May. 


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