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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 dominates Ball State to advance to face Miami in MAC Tournament

In its first game of the Mid-American Conference Tournament, No. 2 Ohio (31-22, 18-8 MAC) took on No. 6 Ball State (26-27, 12-13 MAC). In the opening round, Ball State defeated No. 3 Western Michigan. On a day filled with rain delays and oddities, the following game, originally slated to begin at 2:30 p.m., did not start until 9:30 p.m. Despite this, Ohio completed a shutout in just five innings, winning 8-0.

The top of the first watched as Ohio’s ace, Skipp Miller, got into trouble after a strikeout to open the game. Back-to-back singles put a pair of runners on base for Ball State*. However, Miller tightened up the screws and retired the next two hitters to escape the jam quickly. 

Ohio would similarly strike out to open the inning in the bottom of the frame before the next two batters reached. This time, however, Yasmine Logan walked before Emma Hoffner doubled to put two runners in scoring position with just one out. After Izzie Wilson was struck out, the next batter, Annalia Paoli, hit a frozen rope into left field that scored both runners to give Ohio the early 2-0 lead. 

Miller would pick up another two strikeouts in a 1-2-3 second inning, putting Ohio back on the offensive. With one out, Shelby Westler hit a single in her first at-bat since April 16. One out later, Lauren Yuhas would extend the inning for Yasmine Logan, who would drive in Westler with an RBI single. With the score at 3-0, Ball State pulled its starter from the game as King had accumulated over 50 pitches to get just five outs. 

Ball State brought in Bridie Murphy in relief. Murphy walked her first batter, bringing up Wilson with the bases loaded and two outs. Wilson, having made the All-MAC Second Team as a freshman due largely to her hitting ability cemented her spot as she smacked a hard ground ball off the second baseman and into left-center field. This would score all 3 runs on her single, giving Ohio a 6-0 lead after two innings.

A lead-off strikeout for Miller was followed by two walks in the top of the third. Miller worked out of the jam by getting a pop-out and another strikeout to keep Ball State off the board. While the offense slowed down for Ohio in the third as it failed to score for the first time all night, the sizable lead gave the team plenty of room to work. 

As she went back to work, Miller was in cruise control. With two on and two out the lights went out at Firestone Stadium. As the MAC Tournament returned to the venue for the first time since 2019, the second day of competition was anything but smooth. Despite another delay, Miller got out of the inning without surrendering a run. 

CiCi Keidel would give Miller more run support when her bunt single was mishandled by the Ball State catcher, whose throw rolled down into the right field corner, allowing Keidel to score on an in-the-park home run, making the lead 7-0 in favor of Ohio.

Another scoreless inning by Miller saw her get another two strikeouts, setting a new season-high with eight on the day. In the bottom of the inning, Ball State brought in Alyssa Stramaglia. A single and sacrifice bunt would bring Westler to the plate with a chance to end the game with a hit. Westler hit a double that walked it off for the Bobcats and advanced them to the next round of the MAC Tournament. 

Up next for Ohio

Tomorrow, Ohio will take on No. 1 Miami at 1:00 p.m. The game can be watched on ESPN+ here and live stats can be streamed here


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