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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: Ohio’s Emily Caron contributes to doubleheader sweep, MAC Tournament berth

After walking up to “Transportin’” by Kodak Black, Ohio freshman Emily Caron did something seemingly unthinkable a few weeks ago.

Buried on the depth chart, the infielder from Cumming, Georgia, was without a college hit when she made her first appearance against Western Michigan, but the short at-bat would end in a hit and an RBI, inching Ohio closer in a game it would eventually win. Flash forward to Ohio’s second game of a doubleheader against Akron (22-28, 10-13 Mid-American Conference) facing a 1-run deficit with a runner on first, Caron readied at the plate for the moment of a lifetime. 

Before Caron was up at a critical juncture in game two, Ohio (28-22, 16-8 MAC) took game one in a shutout as it got a dominant start from its ace, Skipp Miller. Alongside the shutout, Miller got help from Caron and the offense by way of the long ball. 

In the bottom of the second, with Caron on first, Brenna Farmer clobbered a pitch beyond the right field wall for a home run, making it 2-0 in favor of Ohio. That was a lead it would maintain for the duration of the game. 

Combined with the back-to-back jacks from Lauren Yuhas and Emma Hoffner, Ohio would get an RBI single from Caron to push the advantage to 5 runs. Miller would finish off her gem, giving Ohio the win. With one more win over Akron, Ohio would officially clinch a spot in the MAC Tournament. 

The second win would not come easily. After starter Mikie Lieving loaded the bases with no outs in the second inning, two strikeouts in a row gave the Bobcats a cushion against any potential runs. However, Tiffany Stevens made Lieving pay as she knocked in a pair on her double to left-center field. 

Ohio would respond immediately. Caron and Farmer started the inning by drawing walks and a failed bunt attempt brought CiCi Keidel to the plate with two runners on and one out. Keidel would single on a ground ball up the middle causing Ohio head coach Jenna Hall to wave Caron around third. While the throw beat Caron to the plate, the catcher went into the running lane of Caron, allowing Caron to run over the catcher.

This act caused the catcher to drop the ball and Caron to score, much to the chagrin of Akron coach Craig Nicholson who was ejected later in the game.

After a scoreless inning for Lieving, Caron came back up with a runner on base and two outs. Her swing connected, sending a home run sailing over the center field wall, giving her the first of her career as well as the first lead for Ohio in game two. 

“When I went up to bat, I had to remember that my team had my back,” Caron said. “It’s been a long journey, but I knew that they were going to back me up no matter what the outcome was.”

The opportunity for Caron came in light of several absences to key players for Ohio but represents the trust Hall has in her depth.

“That’s why we have 19 girls,” Hall said. “You just never know when your opportunities are, but Emily is a hitter … that’s what we recruited her and she has continued to work so I was not surprised.”

Caron was not the last Bobcat to go yard in game two. In the fifth, Hoffner crushed a grand slam for her second home run of the day. Her shot made the score 8-2 at that point, but the Zips would respond with their own grand slam as part of a 5-run sixth inning to draw the game to a 1 run difference. 

Farmer would give Ohio some more breathing room with her second home run of the day. The home run would give Ohio its sixth on the day and put the icing on the cake for the win with Ohio winning 9-7. 

“I just think it’s timing, adjustments, experience and then finding (our) stride at the right time,” Hall said. “They continue to work every single week, like every single practice, we hit and they get after it. They’re just learning and getting better as we go. Taking the information and making the adjustments has been huge.”

The victory meant that Ohio had clinched a spot in the MAC Tournament for the third straight season, but it wouldn’t be able to do it without the numerous contributions it received in its offensive explosion, including those of Caron.


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