Ohio Series Split with Ball State< < Back to
For the past year now it seems that Ohio has had Ball State’s number.
Nothing was more reminiscent of this than junior Amanda Dalton stealing third, a bad throw going in the outfield and Dalton sprinting to home plate with her tongue out, Michael Jordan-style, to score the Bobcats first run.
That feeling carried throughout the rest of the game as Ohio grabbed a dominant 6-1 win over the Cardinals in the first game of Friday’s doubleheader.
“Herm (Ohio coach Jodi Hermanek) always makes fun of me when I run with my tongue out, because it just happens but I get really excited,” Dalton said. “I get pumped to score because I know right now, especially in these games, that every run counts.”
The Bobcats (15-25, 7-6 in Mid-American Conference) showed that early on as they were clicking on both sides of the ball. Senior Lauren McClary showed her command of the circle by recording four of her five strikeouts by the third inning.
On the offensive side, Ohio were just as good, as they had a hit in every inning but the fourth. But it was in the third that the Bobcats really took control over Ball State (25-22, 10-4).
After Dalton was hit by a pitch, junior Sloan Walker put a solid bunt down to get to first and push Dalton to second. Then Dalton sent the crowd into hysterics by stealing third, and when the throw came to no one in-particular, Dalton raced for home and beat the throw to the plate for an unearned first run.
“I was just pumped to get one and score in general,” Dalton said.
That started the onslaught as a productive fifth inning, where the Bobcats scored the majority of their runs, saw them take a 5-0 lead.
The tandem of Dalton and Walker came to fruition again as Dalton hit a leadoff single before Walker bunted to move them to second and first, respectively. Then it was time for Casie Hutchinson to get in on the action as her fly out to center brought Dalton home.
Kaylin Clarke was next, as she ripped a single through Ball State’s shortstops’ glove to score Walker before Adrienne Gebele hit a looper into right center to score two more.
Finally, freshman Mikayla Cooper hit a solo homer over the right field fence to put the Bobcats up six.
“We played really solid defense and we came out attacking the pitcher,” Dalton said. “That was our mindset the whole time, to just come out and have pride in our team and pride in our home field … so I think we did a really good job of that.”
The Cardinals would score one in the top of the seventh, but by then it was too late and Ohio took the game in dominating fashion.
Ball State broke Ohio’s hold over them in the second game though, as the Cardinals took a 4-1 win in the back half of the doubleheader.
“I’m not saying I’m happy we split but a split is a huge accomplishment for us,” Hermanek said. “They’re a great team and to be able to pitch and defend against them consistently in two games, I was very proud of that.”
It was Ball State who got off to a hot start this time, taking advantage of Cooper’s relative inexperience in the circle. While she has been a solid backup option for the Bobcats this season, the Cardinals figured her pitches out quickly and recorded four hits in five at bats to score two runs in the tip of the first.
Cooper was quickly replaced by McClary, who carried the team much of the rest of the way, and did well to limit a talented Ball State offense. But a solo homer by the Cardinals’ Emily Dabkowski in the fifth and another run in the sixth doomed the Bobcats to a split of the series.
But a series split with the second-best team in the MAC is a good result for a team like Ohio with postseason aspirations.
If the Bobcats can pick up a win or two in their weekend series against Miami on Saturday and Sunday, then they will be in a pretty good position to lock up a place in the MAC Tournament.
“We’re seeing red all weekend, that’s something we’ve been saying,” Hermanek said, jokingly. “It’s huge, not only about the postseason standings but we just want to be in the driver seat for us to play the great softball that we need to playing at this stage in the season.
“I just expect us to come out and really play a solid game tomorrow against Miami.”
Saturday’s game is at 5 p.m. while Sunday’s is at 1 p.m.