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Ohio pitcher, Skipp Miller (19), steps to pitch the ball during the first game of the doubleheader against Central Michigan at Ohio Softball Field, March 29, 2024, in Athens.

Softball: Ohio picks up 7-2 over win over Central Michigan as bats awaken

After the rain showers that paused the action in the top of the first inning cleared, it felt as though the metaphoric storm that had clouded Ohio’s offense subsided as well. With the score in an unfavorable spot for Ohio, a 2-1 deficit against Central Michigan’s Grace Lehto quickly turned into an Ohio lead as the team scored a combined 4 runs in the second and third innings, taking a lead that it would not lose. Ohio’s early offensive surge led to a 7-3 victory to earn a series win

At the beginning of the day, it looked like a doom and gloom kind of day was on the horizon for Ohio. Before the weather delay, Ohio ace Skipp Miller watched a flyball get dropped in center field, later leading to a run coming across to open the scoring.

A lightning strike put the action on pause for a half hour during the first. When action resumed, Central Michigan took the lead, adding 1 more run to its total.

In the bottom of the first, Ohio was looking to get some favorable looks against Lehto, who dominated in Game One of the series the day prior. Immediately, Ohio was on the attack as a leadoff single by Tori O’Brien would later turn into a run to cut the deficit in half as Shelby Westler skied a ball to right for a sacrifice fly. Miller did her job and posted a scoreless second inning, allowing her offense to go to work. 

In the bottom of the second, Ohio needed one swing to tie the game as Sydney Grein, getting her second start at shortstop, hit her first home run of the season. With the score suddenly tied, Miller worked around a hit batter to put up another zero in the third.

Ohio took advantage of a leadoff walk to begin a rally in the bottom half of the third. Lauren Yuhas worked a free pass before Yasmine Logan smacked a single into left field. Westler’s sacrifice bunt moved up both runners, putting a pair in scoring position for Emma Hoffner. Hoffner perfectly executed a squeeze play and Ohio took its first lead of the game, 3-2. The next batter, Brenna Farmer, hit a missile that landed beyond the right-field wall for a two-run home run, extending the Ohio lead to 5-2. The hit by Farmer also knocked Lehto out of the game after just 2 and 2/3 innings. 

“Brenna, she’s just a worker,” Ohio coach Jenna Hall said. “She doesn’t get fazed. I am always impressed with her maturity as a freshman. I feel like if you watch her, you wouldn’t think she’s a freshman just by the way she carries herself. So she deserves (the home run) with all her work and I am just really proud of her for that moment.”

Now, working with a lead, Miller continued to mow down the Chippewas’ lineup, continuing a streak of 10 straight batters retired that began in the third inning and ended in the sixth. 

The scoring halted until the fifth when Ohio tacked on another pair of runs. Hoffner doubled down the line to allow Logan to score from first before Belle Hummel picked up her first hit of the season, a single she dumped into left that was booted, allowing Hoffner to cross home.

“It’s great to have (Hummel) back,” Hall said. “She was out for a little bit early in the season and now that she’s healthy, she’s been working really hard and to get her to that moment, to get her those reps, I think it was important."

From there, Miller would cruise her way to the finish line, completing her second seven-inning outing in as many days throughout the weekend.

“We try to hit different sides of the plate and try to mix it up a little,” Miller said. “Just focusing on hitting my spots, trying to make them chase more.” 

The series win showcased more of what Ohio was capable of, something that Hall wants to see more of as the team's MAC schedule continues.


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