RedHawks down Ohio to reach finals
Rematch against Bobcats looms
By MIKE SMITH
OXFORD, OH -- Five different RedHawks had a multi-hit day as Miami knocked off No. 2 seed Ohio 8-4 in Mid-American Conference Softball Tournament action Friday at the Miami Softball Complex. With the victory, MU (36-18) advanced to Saturday's championship game, where they will again face the Bobcats.
Ohio (31-22) was forced into a win-or-go home game against Central Michigan in Friday's final game. Those two teams had met in Thursday's opener, with Ohio pulling out a 2-0 victory. The 'Cats prevailed again Friday night -- this time by a 7-2 count.
Between them, the RedHawks and Bobcats . . .
-- PICTURES TO COME !!! --
. . . combined for 12 runs and 23 hits. Nearly half (5) of Ohio's safeties came in a sixth inning that produced three runs. The visitor's only other run was off a two-out solo homer by Annalia Paoli in the seventh. It was one of four hits in the game for the designated player.
Miami took an early lead when catcher Riley Coyne lined a three-run homer down the left field line
Allie Cummins and Holly Blaska scored on the play, with the former getting on via a dropped popup. Ohio finished with three errors on the day, setting up three unearned runs.
Chloe Parks stroked a two-out double to right center and came home on a Kate Kobayashi single for Miami's final run of the inning, and the RedHawks stayed in front 4-0 until adding another tally in the fourth.
Maddi Banks opened the frame with a single up the middle and then stole second. Cummins followed with an infield single. When the throw to first went wide and out of play, Banks was awarded home.
"Kind of a silent hero the last few games has been Matti Banks -- getting on base with our 1-2-3 hitters coming up," Miami head coach Kirin Kumar said. "Today s she led us off with a base hit and a steal."
There were still no outs, and Miami might well have added more runs were it not for some good Ohio defense. When Blaska lined a shot into a hole on the left side, shortstop Sydney Grein stretched out to make a catch and then doubled Cummins off second. It not only provided two outs, the play kept Karli Spaid's follow-up single from scoring a runner.
"When you're playing great teams like that, they're going to make great defensive plays like that," Kumar said. "That's why you've got to keep hitting the ball."
Ohio's big inning came in the sixth. Yasmine Logan put Ohio on the board with a leadoff homer to left. Paoli and Emma Hoffner followed with singles. Miami then recorded two outs while runners advanced. Paoli scored on the second out.
A light rain had started to fall. While it wasn't enough to stop the game, it certainly didn't help pitchers or defenders. "It's going to happen to a drop ball pitcher when its wet," Kumar said. The Bobcats subsequently scratched out two infield hits -- one just a few feet in front of home plate -- pushing in two more runs to make it a 5-3 contest.
Miami finally stopped the damage with an inning-ending strikeout and then got the five-run cushion back on its turn at the dish. All of it came after two outs. Cummins, who is second in the nation in walks per game (.96), got the RedHawks rally started with a base on balls. "She's got a great eye," Kumar said. "Her on-base percentage is really high. That's why she's up there (leading off)."
Cummins scored on a double by Blaska, and Karli Spaid homered two pitches later. That left MU up 8-3.
Miami pitcher Brianna Pratt induced two groundouts to start the seventh, but Paoli completed her big day with a homer to left. Hoffner, who had three hits, followed with a double. However, the game then ended on a pop out.
Editor-Publisher Mike Smith
Mike grew up in Mid-American Conference football and basketball territory and returned there after military service. He has been covering MAC football and men's basketball for much of the last several decades.