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Ohio catcher/infielder, Emma Hoffner (7), looks up to the ball after hitting it during the first game of the doubleheader against Western Michigan at Ohio Softball Field, April 20, 2024, in Athens.

Softball: Ohio splits doubleheader against Western Michigan, steady's position in MAC

Defensive slug fests are no new concept for Ohio (22-21, 10-8 Mid-American Conference), and that’s what the team experienced through the majority of its doubleheader against Western Michigan (23-18, 12-6 MAC). However, following a low-scoring first game, the cracking of bats became routine as one electric play after another allowed Ohio to split the opening doubleheader of the three-game series.

The Bobcats’ season has reached a point where every win is crucial. Ohio has just 10 regular season games left, including the series' final game against Western Michigan.

“The mindset is just to keep this momentum,” Ohio coach Jenna Hall said. “I think if anything, just believe in confidence.”

Game One

The first game of the doubleheader was stamped by great defensive play as Ohio would fall in a shutout loss, 2-0. The beginning, however, was relatively deceptive as to what the game would turn into.

Following Addison Hudson getting to first base off an error by the Bobcats, Payton Kelly walked up to bat and sent the ball flying out of the right field, netting Western Michigan its first and only 2 runs.

Ohio outfielders, Izzie Wilson (30), CiCi Keidel (5) and Yasmine Logan (14), bump hips during the first game of the doubleheader against Western Michigan at Ohio Softball Field, April 20, 2024, in Athens.

In the bottom of the fifth, Ohio positioned itself to score with a runner on first and second. However, CiCi Keidel’s hit would pop up for an out to the Broncos’ shortstop and Belle Hummell’s swing would turn into a quick and precise double play.

Ohio would find itself in no position to score for the remaining two innings due to the pitching of the MAC’s leader in shutouts, Rissa Bajusz. With Bajusz resting for the second game, though, Ohio had a shot at making big-time offensive plays in the second half of the doubleheader.

Game Two

The latter half of the doubleheader started as another slow performance from both offenses, largely because of the tight-knit groups on the defensive end that both Ohio and Western Michigan boast.

The third inning ended with Ohio up 1-0 off an Izzie Wilson score on an error. In the top of the fourth, Western Michigan would fire back and take the lead as Bajusz would double down the right field line, netting two runs for Kelly and Hudson.

Following another run by the Broncos in the top of the sixth, the Bobcats would score their 2nd run in the same inning, in a career moment for freshman infielder Emily Caron. Caron’s first career at-bat resulted in a hit and an RBI for Hummell.

“That’s a big deal for Emily (Caron) as a freshman,” Hall said. “She’s got a great mindset as a hitter.”

Ohio would score again in the sixth, tying the game, but would be shortly followed by 3 runs in the top of the seventh, giving Western Michigan an intimidating lead to come back from. However, with two runners on base and Yasmine Logan up to bat, the Bobcats found a way and Logan’s swing sent the ball flying out of right field.

Ohio infielder, Lauren Yuhas (1), makes her way to home base at the end of the second game against Western Michigan at Ohio Softball Field, April 20, 2024, in Athens.

“Knowing myself as a hitter, I was really happy when my teammates got on (base) and I just wanted to help them out,” Logan said. “I knew to see the ball up and elevate it … and I just swung and it went over.”

With the game tied at 6 a piece, the Bobcats kept the Broncos scoreless in the top of the eighth. In the bottom of the inning, with Lauren Yuhas on third and Emma Hoffner on second, Syd Grein would step up to the plate and send the ball flying out of Ohio Softball Field.

As she completed her run around the diamond, she would be joined by the whole team at home base, celebrating an exhilarating finish to split the doubleheader.


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