PHOTO: Nick Mullens/WOUB

Ohio Softball: ‘Cats Advance in MAC Tournament on Pond’s Walk-Off Single

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AKRON, OH — The Ohio Softball team has made Firestone Stadium a home away from home for the past four seasons.

After making the MAC title game the past three years the Bobcats took their first step towards achieving that goal for a fourth consecutive season.

It took a Charlee Pond single in the bottom of the eighth inning to score Katie Yun to defeat the 6th seeded Ball State Cardinals in the opening round of MAC tournament play.

“It was really exciting after my rough start to the game to get it done,” Pond said.

Ohio and Ball State got into a pitchers duel for the first four innings of the game.

With neither team able to create much offense with three combined hits in the first four innings, both teams knew this game would go down to the wire.

The fifth inning brought more action with Ball State getting runners in scoring position with a one-out single from Trinity Eckerty and Olivia Huffman getting hit by a pitch.

Madi McCrady would find her way out of the jam by forcing Janae Hogg to fly out to the deep center field with Mackenzie Brunswick making one of many important catches in the outfield.

It was Brunswick making things happen at the plate to give Ohio the lead. The senior outfielder blasted a no-doubt home run over the left field fence to break the deadlock and give Ohio a 1-0 lead.

“It looks like she’s been there a thousand times and I couldn’t be more proud of her (Brunswick)” Ohio Head Coach Kenzie Roark said.

The sixth inning would see Ohio extend their advantage, Run walked and Alex Day hit a single into center to advance the runner.
Ohio would get a free base as Ball State threw the ball down the third base line on Day’s hit, allowing Yun and Day to both advance 60 feet.

Morgan Geno came up to the plate with one out and two on and put down a surprise bunt back to the pitcher. Alyssa Rothwell fielded the bunt and tried throwing home to stop a run from scoring but Yun beat the tag and everyone was safe.

Natalie Alvarez then continued the bunt success when she put one down the third base line. This time the Cardinals tried throwing out Day when she scampered back to the third base bag before shortstop Hailey Demnianiuk could tag her out.

This put the bases loaded for the Bobcats with only one out but Pond and Brunswick both went down swinging to keep the score at 2-0 Bobcats.

“The most frustrating part about having a bad game isn’t about myself but about my teammates.” Pond said. “Not being able to pick them up the way I wanted to.”

McCrady would start the seventh inning by forcing Annie Robinson into a ground ball to Yun, but the first team All-MAC shortstop made an error, allowing Robinson to reach base.

That would send Sarah Venker to the plate and she smashed a two-run shot to left field to tie the game and give the Cardinals new life.
McCrady worked her way out of the inning and put Ohio in a position to try and walk off in the seventh.

Ohio, however, went down 1-2-3 in the bottom half of the inning to send the game into extra innings.

Stacy Payton started off the inning with a single but McCrady got two of her game-high seven strikeouts to keep the Cardinals at two.
Yun started the Ohio rally with a walk, then advanced to second on a Day groundout.

Geno got hit by a pitch and Alvarez flew out to left but that allowed Yun to advance to third base. To put Pond back in the spotlight.

“At the last at-bat coach Roark calmed me down,” Pond said. “I knew she would probably throw me up again so I did my best to take the low pitches first and it worked in my favor this time.”

Then stepped in Pond who would send Ohio fans home happy with her walk-off single.

“I told her during her timeout that there was nobody else I wanted at bat and I meant that,” Roark said.

The Bobcats will now take on the No. 7-seed Toledo Rockets at Firestone Stadium on Thursday, May 9th at 3:30 PM.

“I think our team wants to prove something,” Roark said.
The Rockets upset No. 2-seeded Kent State in the game before the Bobcats today.

“It’s tournament time anything can happen, in the game before us Toledo upset the two seed,” Roark said. “I told them before the game it would require everybody in our dugout.