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Ohio infielder, Lauren Yuhas (1), throws the ball during a game against Western Michigan at Ohio Softball Field, April 21, 2024, in Athens.

Softball: Ohio sweeps mid-week doubleheader against Akron

Heading into its mid-week doubleheader against Akron (22-28, 10-13 Mid-American Conference), Ohio (28-22, 16-8 MAC) had won 13 of its last 15 conference matchups, putting the team on the verge of clinching back-to-back MAC Tournament appearances in Ohio coach Jenna Hall’s first two seasons with the program.

The Bobcats handled business against the Zips, winning both games. Ohio pitched a shutout, experienced a weather delay and saw a career milestone while hitting two grand slams en route to a postseason-clinching victory.

Game One

Skipp Miller took the reigns inside the circle for the Bobcats in game one. While Ohio would make several changes to its regular starting lineup, the game ended in a 5-0 shutout.

The first inning was scoreless on both sides, as was the top of the second. However, when Ohio took over in the bottom of the inning, the drought would quickly come to a close as Brenna Farmer hit a home run deep out of right-center field, netting runs for herself and Emily Caron.

The third and fourth would also end scoreless, but the fifth showed that Farmer’s home run was not an isolated instance as Lauren Yuhas and Emma Hoffner would hit back-to-back giving Ohio a 4-0 lead. 

“It (hitting multiple home runs) is like a chain reaction,” Emily Caron said. “It brings all the energy and just pumps us up.”

The fifth-inning scoring didn’t end there as an excellent night for Caron would start with an RBI single to score Izzie Wilson.

Both teams would go scoreless the remainder of the game, ending the game in a shutout for Miller and Ohio. The defense wasn’t perfect as Akron landed seven hits and consistently had runners on base, but Ohio kept the game under control.

“Overall, they (the defense) did a good job,” Hall said. “I think there were a couple moments where we just rushed some things and made some quick judgements.”

Game Two

The second game of the doubleheader ended up being much higher-scoring and far more contentious as both teams would eclipse Ohio’s 5-run total in the first game. The game would finish 8-7 in favor of Ohio.

Mikie Lieving would get the start, opening the game 1-2-3 with back-to-back strikeouts on the first two batters. Lieving would add three more strikeouts to her total in the second, but Akron would end its eight-inning scoreless droughts with Tiffany Stevens hitting two runners in on a double.

Akron would connect on 15 hits in total during the doubleheader but only scored 7 runs. For comparison, Ohio scored 14 runs on 19 hits. Ohio would manage to cut Akron’s lead to 1 after Caron scored on an error, coming off a single from CiCi Keidel.

Caron’s contributions in her first two starts would be needed, especially on an Ohio team that was missing four starters. Caron chipped in two hits, 2 runs scored and three RBIs across the two games for Ohio.

“She (Caron) started off a little bit nervous, I think just excited about being in the lineup,” Hall said. “She settled in the second game, made some nice plays and stepped up when she needed to.”

Caron would hit her first career home run in the third, putting the Bobcats up 1 as she also got Wilson home with the massive hit. Later in the third, Farmer would reach home and put the Bobcats up 2.

Amid all this were three more scoreless innings provided by Lieving and the Bobcats defense, only allowing one runner on base between the third and fifth inning.

In what was arguably the biggest at-bat of the game, Hoffner lined up to the plate with Yuhas, Belle Hummel and Keidel loading the bases. With one crack of the bat, the Bobcats took a 6-run lead as the ball sailed out of left field.

The elation wouldn’t last long, as the Zips chipped away with an RBI single in the sixth, then followed it up moments later with a grand slam of their own, cutting the lead back to 1. 

Thankfully for Ohio, it would generate the outs needed to leave the inning with a lead, tacking on 1 more run on the way and keeping Akron scoreless to complete the sweep and locking up its spot in the MAC tournament.

“We’ve been through a lot this year … and we’ve overcome a lot of challenges,” Hall said. “When we started out a little slow it was just about ownership and knowing who we are.”


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