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Photo: Kaleb Carter

Ohio Has Successful Weekend at Tennessee Invitational

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The Ohio softball team travelled to Knoxville, Tenn. this weekend to take part in the Tennessee Invitational. It had been 11 days since any of the Bobcats stepped on the field for a game, but that didn’t suspend any momentum. By the end of the invitational, Ohio finished out the weekend with a 4-1 record, with their only loss coming to No. 15 Tennessee.

The team got things starts Thursday afternoon when they took on Southeastern Louisiana to kick off the invitational. After a scoreless first inning, the Bobcats quickly found their stride when junior Mikayla Cooper knocked a home run over the left field wall, her first of the season, putting the Bobcats up 3-0 early on.

Two innings later, that lead increased to 5-0 thanks to RBI singles by both Taylor Saxton and Alex Day. Junior Danielle Stiene got the start on the mound for Ohio this game, going through the order with ease in the first three innings. Southeastern Louisiana finally got on the board in the fifth, cutting the lead down to 5-2. Redshirt senior and two-time Mid-American Conference Pitcher of the Week candidate Savannah Jo Dorsey came in that same inning, quickly retiring the last two batter to end the fifth. Dorsey went on to strike out five more batters that game, shutting down the Lion’s offense completely to give them their first win of the invitational with a final score of 5-2.

The Bobcats registered five runs on 11 hits that game, with Cooper leading the team going 2-for-3 with a HR, a run and three RBIs. In 4.1 innings, Stiene finished her start allowing two runs on four hits, striking out four, pushing her record to (3-0). Dorsey allowed no runs or hits in her 2.1 inning relief, striking out six out of the nine batters.

The team faced their first true test this season when they took on No. 15 Tennessee later that day. In the first inning, Dorsey started things on a bad note, quickly giving up hits to the Volunteers and even throwing a wild pitch to help the runners advance into scoring position. With no outs, it was Meghan Gregg who got things going for Tennessee, hitting the ball to left center for a two-run RBI double. With bases loaded later that same inning, Dorsey found a way out of it, still down 2-0.

Ohio finally got on the board in the third, thanks to an RBI single from sophomore Morgan Geno, bringing Day home to cut the lead to only one. Throughout the game, both teams threatened to tack on more runs at points, but solid pitching on both ends limited both offenses. The Bobcats tried to stitch together a late rally in the top of the seventh with Saxton getting walked, then advancing to second on a ground out.

Unfortunately for Ohio, Tennessee struck out Ohio’s final batter, snapping the Bobcats’ eight-game win streak. Dorsey also earned her first loss of the season (4-1) despite putting up a solid performance, pitching six and allowing two runs on four hits while also striking out five.

Coming off a tough loss, the Bobcats still went into Friday’s matchup against Bradley with heads held high. The Bobcats did not get to play a full seven innings this game and run-ruled the Braves 16-2 in five. The team struck almost immediately in the top of the first with an RBI single coming from sophomore Natalie Alvarez, giving the Bobcats the first of what would be many runs.

The team did not score another run until the top of fourth, where they went on to score 15 straight. RBIs, sacrifice fly, walks, the Bobcats found a way to score in almost every way except by the home run. The team scored 16 total runs off 14 hits in the end. Almost every player had themselves a day offensively, with four players with two or more RBI. Sixteen runs in a single game is the second most in team history, and the most in a game since 2015.

The offense did not slow down at all going into the final day of the invitational. The Bobcats kicked things off Saturday morning when they took on The University of Delaware, with Ohio winning 9-4. The Bobcats picked up where they left off offensively thanks to a Mikayla Cooper solo homer in the top of the second inning. This was quickly followed by a bases loaded situation which Ohio capitalized on, scoring three runs off an RBI single by sophomore Jamie Wren and a two-out, two RBI single from Alvarez, ending the second inning up 4-0 on the Blue Hens.

The team tacked on four more runs one inning later off several base hits coming from Cooper, sophomore MacKenzie Brunswick, Day, Wren and even starting pitched Danielle Stiene who reached base on a fielder’s choice. The Blue Hens cut the lead in half in the bottom of the inning, making it 8-4 with only two innings to go. The Bobcats sealed the deal in the top of the seventh, adding one more run on an RBI double from senior Cassie Hutchinson, bringing home Alex Day. Ohio scored nine runs on 18 hits. Stiene (4-0) allowed four runs on six hits while also striking out 11.

Seven hours later, the team faced off against Jacksonville State to close out the invitational, a matchup that proved to be a more defensive battle with Ohio winning 1-0. Dorsey took the mound again for the Bobcats, proving that her previous start was nothing but a fluke. In seven innings pitched, the redshirt senior finished the day giving up no runs on only two hits, striking out seven.

The Bobcats came close many times on offense to bring in runs, including a bases loaded situation for them in the bottom of the first but were unable to capitalize. When given the chance again in the second inning, the team were finally able to get things going. With Saxton on first, it was none other than Alex Day who brought the redshirt junior home after crushing the ball into left center to give her an RBI double. This proved to be enough, as the neither team was able to score for the rest of the game, giving the Bobcats their fourth win of the invitational.

The Bobcats (12-2) are off to a great start to kick off the season, holding the best record in the MAC currently. The team will look to extend their three-game win streak this Wednesday when they travel to Dayton to take on the Flyers.