Bobcats Blanked By Kentucky In Return To NCAA Tourney

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After shutting down team after team in the MAC tournament, Ohio sat on the other end of a shutout loss in the first round of the NCAA tournament in Lexington, Ky., losing to No. 14 seed Kentucky, 2-0.

It was a chilly affair at John Cropp Stadium, as Savannah Jo Dorsey participated in pitcher’s duel that would have delighted any defensive-minded softball fanatic.

“I’m really proud of [Dorsey and catcher Madison Claytor],”  head coach Jodi Hermanek said. “Thought that they did a great job of working through some challenging moments. I was happy that [Dorsey] settled in strong and got zoned in in the later innings.”

It was Kentucky’s Kelsey Nunley who got the better of the matchup, as she tossed seven strong innings of four-hit, shutout softball. Nunley struck out nine while mixing her pitches efficiently throughout the night to shut down the Ohio offense.  Dorsey finished with four strikeouts, three walks, and two earned runs in six innings of work. She had only given up one earned run total in her last four outings, all MAC tournament wins.

“I think she’s an outstanding pitcher, I really do,” Kentucky head coach Rachel Lawson said about Dorsey. “After seeing her tonight for the first time live, I thought that it must have been legitimate (her perfect game against Ball State), she is … as good as any pitcher we have seen all year.”

Nunley improved to 25-7 and bettered her ERA to 1.94 in the win. Dorsey fell to 25-17.

“She was all inside the whole day,” Ohio centerfielder Alyssa Wolfe said about facing Nunley.

Wildcat first baseman Lauren Cumbess gave Kentucky an early 1-0 lead when she knocked one out to right center.

“I really wanted to be aggressive and try to make something happen,” Cumbess said. “I swung at the first one and missed it, but the second looked like it was even more in my zone, so I just went for it.”

Cumbess picked up both Kentucky RBIs. In the sixth inning, she came up with the bases loaded and hit a sacrifice fly to plate pinch runner Maise Steed. Steed came on to run for Emily Gaines, who previously hit a double to get the Wildcat offense started in the sixth.

Ohio’s Alexandria Basquez hit to two sizzlers to third base that resulted in hits — one in the fourth and one in the seventh.

The Bobcats put runners on first and third in the seventh with the Basquez single and a Dakota Pyles blooper that fell into the grass in right field with two outs. Alyssa Wolfe followed with a first-pitch pop-out to shortstop Christian Stokes. Fitting for the sophomore who made several impressive plays, including a miraculous diving nab and throw in the top of the second to rob Claytor of a base hit.

The loss, which came in Ohio’s first NCAA tournament game in 19 years, was the Bobcats’ third straight shutout loss in tournament play.

“We’re just really enjoying each moment, trying to create some memories through all of it,” Hermanek said. “But yes, we’re not happy with the outcome, we’re hungry for more, and we in our belief system feel that we’re the best team out here, and that’s how we intend to play tomorrow.”

Ohio will play Big East champion DePaul Saturday at 3:30 in an elimination game. DePaul fell to James Madison 6-1 in the other Lexington regional matchup.