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Members of the Ohio softball team huddle up for a cheer during the second game against Western Michigan at Ohio Softball Field, April 20, 2024, in Athens.

Softball: Ohio heads to MAC Tournament as second seed

For the first time since 2019, the Mid-American Conference Softball Tournament is being played at Firestone Stadium in Akron, Ohio. Ohio will make the trip north as the second seed in the double elimination bracket. The late push for Ohio (30-22, 18-8 MAC) saw it win 17 of its last 19 MAC games, including an active nine-game win streak against conference foes.

By earning one of the top two seeds, Ohio has been given a bye to the second round and will face the winner of the game between No. 3 Western Michigan and No. 6 Ball State. 

Tournament Information

Dates: Wednesday, May 8 to Saturday, May 11

Location: Firestone Stadium (Akron, Ohio)

Participants: Miami (No. 1), Ohio (No. 2), Western Michigan (No. 3), Toledo (No. 4), Central Michigan (No. 5), Ball State (No. 6)*

Ohio’s first game is going to be streaming here on ESPN+

Championship Central can be found here

The bracket can be found here

Scouting Miami (45-7, 26-1 MAC)

Head coach: Karin Kumar (fourth season)

Individual statistical leaders

Batting average: Karli Spaid (.421)

Hits: Spaid and Jenna Golembiewski (67)

Runs: Spaid (72)

Home runs: Spaid (34)

RBI: Golembiewski (77)

On-base percentage: Spaid (.535)

Innings pitched: Madilyn Reeves (141.0 IP)

ERA: Addy Jarvis (4.11)

Strikeouts: Reeves (119)


Miami has been the best team in the conference all season, winning 18 straight games to start MAC play. The Redhawks also rank 21st in the country by Softball America. Miami leads the NCAA with 154 home runs. Leading the charge are MAC Player of the Year Spaid, Jenna Golembiewski and Kate Kobayashi, each of whom has hit over 20 long balls this season.

Pitching has not been as sure of a thing for Miami. It has a 3.81 team ERA which sticks out when considering the prolific offense on the other side of the ball. Having won the MAC last year, Miami will have a solid shot to repeat.

Scouting Western Michigan (29-20, 16-8 MAC)

Head coach: Marlee Wilson (first season)

Individual statistical leaders

Batting average: Payton Kelly (.355)

Hits: Kelly (50)

Runs: Riley Dittmar (34)

Home runs: Kelly and Megan Welsh (5)

RBI: Dittmar (28)

On-base percentage: Dittmar (.446)

Innings pitched: Rissa Bajusz (168.0 IP)

ERA: Bajusz (1.67)

Strikeouts: Bajusz (216)


Western Michigan has the best pitching staff in the MAC, along with an offense that ranks fifth. MAC Pitcher of the Year Rissa Bajusz leads the pitching staff. Her 1.67 ERA and 216 strikeouts leads the conference by a wide margin. Bajusz is seventh in the country in strikeouts. Much like Ohio last year, Western Michigan is led by a first-year head coach and a dominant pitching staff. 

The parallels between Ohio and Western Michigan are evident. Although Western Michigan leads the conference in pitching statistics, Ohio is second. Ohio is fourth in the MAC in hitting while Western Michigan sits at fifth. The hitting core being able to produce will be the key for Western Michigan. The power is not something it has relied upon this season, as the team’s .278 batting average demonstrates that the team sprays the ball around the park to score enough to support a dominant pitching staff. 

Scouting Toledo (25-21, 15-10 MAC)

Head coach: Jessica Bracamonte (second season)

Individual statistical leaders

Batting average: Sidney Griffith (.381)

Hits: Eli Enriquez (58)

Runs: Enriquez (37)

Home runs: Jenna Kroll (6)

RBI: Riley Mohr (32)

On-base percentage: Griffith (.420)

Innings pitched: Sophia Knight (150.2 IP)

ERA: Knight (3.07)

Strikeouts: Knight (103)


Unlike the other teams above, Toledo is not a team that excels or struggles at any one thing but certainly has a niche. Toledo hit for the third-highest batting average in the MAC this season but was tied for the fewest home runs of any team in the MAC Tournament with 20 round-trippers. The ace for Toledo, Sophia Knight, has been able to carve up opponents this season down the stretch, despite playing fewer innings than other aces across the MAC. 

Toledo is a team that plays small ball to win games. It is second among teams in the MAC Tournament with 72 steals, led by Eli Enriquez who swiped 33 bags this season. Additionally, the 41 sacrifice bunts by Toledo also lead the conference.

Scouting Central Michigan (16-30, 13-11 MAC)

Head coach: McCall Salmon (fifth year)

Individual statistical leaders

Batting average: Skylar Coberley (.298)

Hits: Carly Sleeman (44)

Runs: Abbey Tolmie (29)

Home runs: Allyssa Hollo (5)

RBI: Sleeman (29)

On-base percentage: Tolmie (.427)

Innings pitched: Grace Lehto (134.0 IP)

ERA: Mackenzie Langan (2.78)

Strikeouts: Lehto (107)


Central Michigan has been one of the worst offensive teams in the conference with a lack of consistent hitting throughout the lineup. Its team batting average of .249 is the lowest of the six teams in the MAC Tournament. Additionally, Central Michigan hits for virtually no power with only 20 home runs and has only scored 201 runs, the lowest in the field. 

That being said, Central Michigan can win games against lesser competition. While it had a 13-11 record in the MAC, Central Michigan went 7-3 against teams that are not competing in the MAC Tournament. Additionally, it finds ways to win ugly games. A 1-0 victory over Ohio earlier in the season illustrates this perfectly. Six of its wins in MAC play have been in games decided by 3 or fewer runs.

Scouting Ball State (25-27, 12-13 MAC)

Head coach: Helen Peña (first season)

Individual statistical leaders

Batting average: McKayla Timmons (.394)

Hits: Timmons (61)

Runs: Timmons (49)

Home runs: Timmons (23)

RBI: Timmons (53)

On-base percentage: Timmons (.510)

Innings pitched: Francys King (145.2 IP)

ERA: King (3.46)

Strikeouts: King (75)


Ball State boasts the second-best power-hitting team in the conference, trailing only Miami in home runs and RBIs. However, the team has yet to find consistency and snuck in as the final seed of the MAC Tournament. After defeating Ohio twice to start conference play, Ball State lost its next seven games. Ball State won its next five games to regain some form before losing three straight.

With a solid one-two punch in the circle in the form of King and Birdie Murphy, Ball State has the talent to play with anyone. All it truly takes from it is one hot streak as was seen earlier in the season. That is something that, while a long shot given the performance against top-tier competition, is possible for Ball State. 

Ohio news and notes: 

Following its Senior Celebration against Bowling Green, a series Ohio swept, it heads to Akron as the second seed. This will allow Ohio to try and avoid Miami for as long as possible, which seems to be the biggest threat on either side of the bracket. Ohio has gone a combined 6-5 against the other teams outside of Miami. 

Ohio is in the best position possible despite a 1-6 start to MAC play. The defense is clicking for Ohio Head Coach Hall with Skipp Miller putting forth another dominant season in the circle. Additionally, the team’s hitting has been consistent throughout the season with a .278 team batting average and 38 home runs.


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