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Ohio outfielder, CiCi Keidel (5), and Ohio infielder/designated player, Annalia Paoli (3) step towards eachother for a high five during the second game of the doubleheader against Central Michigan at Ohio Softball Field, March 29, 2024, in Athens.

Softball: Ohio’s weekend of success comes despite several schedule changes

The day before Ohio (15-18, 3-6 Mid-American Conference) was set to take on Central Michigan (6-21, 3-3 MAC), the team faced a last-second schedule change. With a strong possibility of rain on the second day of the Bobcats’ weekend series against the Chippewas, their doubleheader was changed from Saturday to Friday.

With Ohio coach Jenna Hall stressing the importance of consistency, the schedule changes did not help the team find a home throughout its doubleheader. 

While they split the doubleheader, winning the second game 4-1, the Bobcats endured 10 straight scoreless innings before a 3-run explosion in the fourth inning of the second game headed by Annalia Paoli playing the role of a pinch hitter.

Despite this abrupt change, there was seemingly no reason to change for the Bobcats.

“They’re (the players) used to it … When it comes down to those moments, we just have to step up, take care of the field and get back on it,” Hall said. “Thankfully, I’ve got a group that understands that that’s what it takes and they don’t complain.”

The suspected rain that caused the initial schedule change didn’t stop forcing the Bobcats to make changes, but Hall’s sentiment was echoed by her players as well.

“Honestly, we don’t change,” Skipp Miller said. “Our mindset doesn’t change anything in the game. You just go out there and play.”

Miller started two of the three games as a pitcher for Ohio, and out of the 14 innings she played, 11 were left without a run for Central Michigan. The latter of the two starts was the third and final game of the weekend and the one that would see the brunt of the weather just minutes into the top of the first inning.

The game would be delayed by the crack of lightning and heavy rain, causing the Bobcats to pull out the tarp and fans to run to their cars for protection.

As the scramble ensued, the Bobcats were joined by members of the Chippewas in rolling out the tarp. It was a moment that showed the mutual love for the game and the respect the two teams have for one another.

The players laughed alongside one another, running to cover the diamond as quickly as possible, and while the opposing sides chirped at one another throughout the game, for a moment the veil of competitiveness was shed.

“Coach McCall and her staff, they’re really good people and they have a really good culture of good people over there,” Hall said. “I think in those moments, other teams see how hard our girls work to make it work and we're doing that for the game and for both teams involved, so for them to step out and help us was awesome.”

The weekend was a challenge for Ohio in the early stages of MAC play, as the team not only had to prepare for Central Michigan, a preseason pick to finish top three in the conference but also the weather. However, the Bobcats built momentum and started to show the signs of consistency that Hall had stressed.


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