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Ohio infielder Shelby Westler (17) hits the ball against Northern Illinois at Ohio Softball Field in Athens, Apr. 7, 2024.

Softball: Ohio completes doubleheader sweep, gets over .500 on season

Conference play started slow for Ohio (19-18, 7-6 Mid-American Conference) as it was scheduled to test the water against a competent Ball State team and an undefeated conference powerhouse in Miami. Through the two three-game series, Ohio started its conference slate at 1-5.

The Bobcats stalling start was due to an overall lack of consistency, especially in terms of their ability to score runs inning-to-inning. Outside of an explosive bout or two, runs in general were hard to come by for Ohio, including in its opening match to its series against Central Michigan where Ohio was bested 1-0.

Since then, Ohio’s offense and defense have each taken their turns finding their strides. Against Central Michigan and Kent State, it was the defense being seemingly impenetrable, allowing the team to win four straight following an opening loss. In the most recent doubleheader against Northern Illinois (9-22, 3-8 MAC), it was the offense who seemed unstoppable.

Game One

The top of the first inning of game one seemed to spell doom for the Bobcats. While Ohio would go on to win the game 11-6, a masterclass from Northern Illinois’, Caitlyn Shumaker, was brewing early.

With a runner on base, Shumaker netted the Huskies their first 2 runs of the game, sending a home run out to center field. Northern Illinois would load the bases shortly after but would find itself unable to capitalize as Skipp Miller and the Ohio defense held strong.

Ohio would take the lead back in no time, finishing the first inning with 3 runs from Lauren Yuhas, Yasmine Logan and Shelby Westler, coming off RBIs from Emma Hoffner, Sydney Grein and Izzie Wilson.

Throughout the second and third innings, both teams would add 2 more runs to their total. Big contributions from Shumaker kept the game competitive throughout, with her finishing 3-for-3 with two home runs and four RBIs.

“I just think we continue to fight back every time they put up runs, we didn't hesitate to swing the bat,” said Ohio coach Jenna Hall. “We’ve been really, really aggressive.”

Ohio’s strong finish and sustained aggression on offense and defense is ultimately what guaranteed the win late. In the last three innings of the game, Ohio scored 6 runs while holding Northern Illinois scoreless.

Game Two

Offensively, the second game of the doubleheader belonged to Brenna Farmer, who went 3-of-3 at the plate while recording four RBIs. The explosive offensive plays from the first game belonged to Ohio as it maintained the consistency it needed, winning 4-2.

On defense, it was Mikie Lieving who got the start in the circle for the Bobcats. Lieving is a true freshman but has found herself pitching huge games on the back end of doubleheaders when Ohio has needed to give Miller a rest.

“She's (Lieving’s) spinning the ball and that's what we've been working on,” Hall said. “She's getting to the place she needs to get to so that she can spin it to the right place.”

Farmer and Lieving’s contributions were part of a complete game on both ends from the Bobcats, showing the growth that they’ve experienced throughout the season in bunches.

“I think ... we've learned from the things that we've grown into, and now we're taking those things and making them better,” Hall said. “We're not making the same mistakes that we were earlier in the season … I think we're just learning and growing with the game.”


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