Ohio Softball Celebrates
The Ohio Softball team celebrates at home plate following a home run during the 2019 season (Photo: Nick Mullens/WOUB)

Ohio Softball: Bobcats reach 4th straight MAC Title Game with Late-Inning Surge over No. 1 Miami

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Four for four.

No sir, this is not a Wendy’s.

That’s the Ohio softball senior class record in making it to the MAC championship game.

“Each and every year we’ve been in every side of the bracket,” Senior Alex Day said. “I told the team it’s so much better in the winners bracket.”

With huge performances from players ranging from seniors to freshman the Bobcats took down the top ranked Miami Redhawks 7-3 to advance to the title game once again.

The Bobcats took their first lead of the game when Alex Day hit a double off the right field fence.

“It’s awesome to see those who have been going through this the past four years come though,” Ohio Head Coach Kenzie Roark said.

The next batter Morgan Geno appeared to give Ohio some cushion with deep shot down the left field line.

But by close margins her shot was ruled foul. Geno would walk and Natalie Alvarez got an infield single to bring up the hero of Wednesday’s contest, Charlee Pond.

Pond gave Ohio all the insurance runs they would need with a grand slam to all but clinch the victory.

“I’m really happy to have gotten it done for my teammates,” Pond said.

“I was so happy that I almost started crying after she hit it (grand slam),” Day said.

Pond has now come in clutch twice this tournament run, after just coming back from her third injury this season for the Miami series in the regular season.

“I had a rough go with injuries this season,” Pond said. “It feels good to be back though.”

Madi McCrady would finish off Miami in the seventh and despite giving up a solo home run, completed her third complete game victory in as many days.

Allie Englant opened up a second straight game with a hit, this time a double to start things off for Ohio.

Day would single her over to third but after aGeno groundout and Alvarez strikeout the Bobcats were held scoreless in the first.

The Redhawks would strike first in the bottom of the second when Hannah Obrey drove a double to the right-center field wall.

Alexa Holland made a relay throw into Yun but she was unable to handle the bounce cleanly which allowed Lilly Wilmot to score without a throw.

Miami then switched pitchers when they returned to the field with a 1-0 lead, and decided to put in Courtney Vierstra after Brianna Pratt pitched two scoreless innings.

In the bottom half of the third Miami continued to put runners in scoring position and threaten to blow this game open.

Johniann Wahl drove a double to the left field wall to put Jenny Vasquez at third.

Vasquez would score on the next at bat through a Kara Leckinger sac fly caught by Holland in shallow right field.

McCrady would limit the Redhawks to one run in the inning with her third strikeout of the game.

McCrady then pitched her first 1-2-3 inning to keep the score at 2-0 heading into the fifth inning.

Caroline Spacek made it four of five leadoff hitters to reach base for the Bobcats with a single to right.

Holland followed that single up with a perfectly executed bunt single to put runners on first and second with nobody out for the top of the lineup.

Yun would find her way on base for the first time in the game by taking a pitch off her shoulder to load the bases for Day.

Day came through with a single off the wall to drive home Spacek and Holland to tie the game at two.

McCrady would put the Redhawks down in order again, wrapping up the inning with a strikeout of Ashton Alone.

In the bottom half of the sixth inning, Miami got their first two runners on base. McCrady walked the leadoff hitter after getting ahead in the count 0-2.

Miami then tried to bunt but their attempt was ruled foul, off the facemask off the Miami hitter. With that second chance Leckinger singled to left field.

“I argued that the bat hit her in the face not the ball,” Roark said. “We wanted to throw her out but I guess everyone else saw something differently.”

McCrady wiggled her way out of the inning with three straight outs to make the score 2-2 heading to the seventh inning.

The seventh inning was the five run explosion that put Ohio through again. The Bobcats will face the winner of the Miami Vs Toledo game.

If Ohio loses the first game of the championship series, a final game would be played to determine the conference champion. If Ohio wins the first game, they would be crowned champions.

For a team other than Ohio to win the tournament, they will have to win three consecutive games on Saturday, including two against the Bobcats.

“We haven’t played three games in a day since travel ball,” Roark said. “We are going to try and get it done in one.”

The Bobcats know both feelings of Saturday’s results, by losing twice on Saturday to Kent State during the senior classes senior season. And hoisting the trophy last season.

“Having that feeling of losing (both championship games) my Sophomore year we know that it’s possible to happen.” Day said.

Those experiences help keep the team grounded heading into Saturday.

“Making sure that we aren’t taking the game for granted is important,” Day said.