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Ohio infielder, Emily Caron (20), up to bat during a game against Western Michigan at Ohio SOftball Field, April 21, 2024, in Athens.

Softball: A quick pitching change helped Ohio win its series against Western Michigan

After scoring first off a quick RBI single from Riley Dittmar, Western Michigan (23-19, 12-7 Mid-American Conference) loaded the bases. In response, Ohio (23-21, 11-8 MAC) coach Jenna Hall made a quick decision to pull her starting pitcher, Ellie Greene, and replace her with Skipp Miller.

Miller had seen incredible usage in the first two games of the weekend’s series, pitching a complete game in the first of three and closing the second, throwing for over 100 pitches total. Despite that, Miller pitched 6.1 innings and threw 83 more pitches, leading Ohio to a 7-4 victory.

“It didn’t go as she (Greene) planned, but that’s why we have a whole staff,” Hall said. “We’re always confident in Ellie, we’re always confident in Mikie (Lieving) and Skipp (Miller). They know it takes a village.”

Following the abrupt change, Ohio’s defense took off. A strikeout on Miller’s first batter faced brought the Bobcats' offense onto the field, and while they did not score until the third inning, the defense continued to do their job.

Throughout the remainder of the game, Ohio never let more than one runner on base at a time.

The trust that Hall and Ohio’s staff have in Miller was evident in the early pitching change but is exemplified even further when thinking back on what has been a bit of a struggle-ridden stretch for Miller.

“She had a setback against Northern (Illinois) … Toledo was a tough game,” Hall said. “I was really proud of how she bounced back into this weekend.”

Ohio built its momentum on defense throughout the game, whether it was Miller collecting any of her five strikeouts in the game, or fielders making plays when the ball popped up.

On the other end, Ohio saw its opponent make two pitching changes of its own. The starter, Rissa Bajusz, had shut Ohio out in the first game of the series but faced struggles early on and was pulled in the fourth after Ohio took the lead with a Yasmine Logan home run.

According to Hall, while Ohio recognized the talent of Bajusz, who leads the MAC in strikeouts, there was something that the team had figured out heading into the series’ second day.

Ohio infielder/designated player, Annalia Paoli (3), throws the ball during a game against Western Michigan at Ohio Softball Field, April 21, 2024, in Athens.

“One of the things we learned yesterday was that a lot of her pitches all have up spin,” Hall said. “I liked the way we attacked in the first time through. We didn't get the results, but they (the team) made a really good adjustment getting on top (of the ball).”

Bajusz was replaced by Jensen Gremillion, who only pitched 1.1 innings, falling victim to 4 more runs from Ohio before getting swapped out for Kailey O’Connor in the sixth.

While Western Michigan found little success in its pitching changes, Ohio built momentum with its pitching change. The Bobcats showed the trust they have in Miller, letting her lead them to a dominant victory in a crucial portion of the season.

“She (Miller) knows what she can, she knows who she is,” Hall said. “Those are things that you can’t take for granted. We’re very grateful for pitchers like Skipp that can come and do that.”


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