Updated Thu, Apr 17, 2014 1:57 pm
Don’t look now, but Ohio softball is halfway through Mid-American Conference play. This weekend, the ‘Cats get a shot at the Miami RedHawks in Oxford, Ohio, and the Ball State Cardinals in Muncie, Ind.
The last time the Bobcats faced off with Miami, Alyssa Wolfe made a miraculous, game-saving catch that ended the season for the RedHawks and helped Ohio live to play another day in the 2013 MAC Tournament.
Ohio lost both of its regular season games to Miami last season, with both coming in a doubleheader on April 12th by scores of 1-0 and 11-5.
“They’re definitely a rival for us; you get a little fiery in your belly for them” Ohio head coach Jodi Hermanek said.
In last year’s one-run loss Savannah Jo Dorsey went the distance in the while allowing only six hits.
Both Dorsey and Lauren McClary pitched in the 11-5 loss and gave up a combined 16 hits.
Jenna Modic, who threw the first game shutout last year, is back for the RedHawks, but is not a top of the rotation starter as she has pitched the third most innings on the squad this season.
In 2014 the ‘Hawks are 17-20 and stand at 5-5 in conference play. They are led by the bats of four .300 hitters. Most daunting in the lineup is the powerful bat of Bree Lipscomb. She is hitting at a .306 clip with eight home runs, 14 doubles, 72 total bases and a .649 slugging percentage.
After the Friday doubleheader with its rival, Ohio heads to Ball State next. The Cardinals come in at 24-15 and 4-2 in the MAC.
The Cardinals challenged themselves with strong opponents early in the season against several powerhouse clubs and are in great position to grab a high seed – if not the top seed – in the MAC tournament.
Ohio fell each of the three times it played the Cardinals in 2013. The Bobcats were outscored 24-17 in those three contests.
Ball State’s lineup features a number of players who can do damage to Ohio’s pitching.
The all-time MAC leader in home runs, and first-team All-American Jennifer Gilbert comes in leading the Cardinals in nearly every offensive category. Most notably, the senior comes in with 16 home runs and a .983 slugging percentage.
Ohio will have to outslug the Cardinals if it is to emerge from Muncie victorious, and it will have a good chance to do just that as Ball State’s team ERA of 4.25 ranks among the bottom of the MAC.
The Bobcats will likely see either Kelsey Schifferdecker or Nicole Steinbach on the mound. The two have combined for a 21-13 record.
Ohio’s offensive will have to synch up with a good weekend of pitching to beat the Cardinals, who have defeated Bobcats in six of their last seven matchups.
After five straight MAC victories, the Bobcats’ recent success has them feeling good, but not overconfident.
“I think our team is really going to thrive off of the momentum that we carried from last weekend” Hermanek said.
The Friday doubleheader with Miami is set for 1 p.m. and 3 p.m.
The two-game weekend series with the Cardinals is set for Saturday at 2 p.m. and Sunday at 1 p.m.