It is safe to say the Ohio softball team has not had much luck in the past week.
Despite the best efforts of senior catcher Lauren Gellerman and sophomore pitcher Lauren McClary, the Bobcats losing streak increased to seven games after losing both of their weekend games against Mid-American Conference rivals Ball State by scores of 9-7 and 8-4.
“This is the best team in our conference and we were able to outhit them,” Ohio head coach Jodi Hermanek said after Saturday’s loss. “We were able to challenge every at bat. I was happy to see that and I am proud of the way we played.”
Ohio (19-20, 4-8 MAC) has not won since April 6, when they won 5-1 at Bowling Green. Their last home win came on March 29, which was an 8-0 win over Kent State in the second game of a double header.
Ball State (28-11, 12-0 MAC) continues to dominate conference play. They have a 3.5 game lead in the MAC West division over Central Michigan and have won 17 of their last 18 games.
In Saturday’s contest, McClary was unable to get off to a strong start. In the top of the first inning, she was in a bases-loaded jam when third baseman Audrey Bickel stepped up to the plate. Bickel eventually drew a walk, McClary’s third of the inning, to give the Cardinals the early 1-0 advantage.
Catcher Sadie Robertson came up to the plate next, and she drew a walk to make the score 2-0 after the first inning of play.
In the bottom of the second inning, the Bobcats were able to tie the game. Right fielder Adrienne Gebele hit her ninth home run of the season to left-center field to halve the deficit. Then Raven King drew a walk, Dakota Pyles hit a single down the third base line and Alyssa Wolfe tallied a base hit up the middle to score King and tie the game at two.
“We came back and fought to tie the game at two in the bottom of the second,” Gebele said. “It was great to see because we have not been doing that lately.
In the top of the third inning, Ball State regained the lead in part to some clutch hitting. With two outs in the inning and the bases loaded, Selena Reyna hit a bases-clearing double into the gap to give Ball State a lead that they would never relinquish.
The Cardinals added one in the top of the fifth inning and Jennifer Gilbert hit a 3-run home run in the top of the sixth inning to extend the Cardinals lead to 9-2, but the ’Cats did not give up.
Pinch-hitting for Amanda Dalton in the bottom of the sixth inning, DJ Engelman hit a 3-run home run of her own to cut the Cardinals’ lead to four, 9-5.
In the bottom of the seventh, Kaylin Clarke pinch hit for second baseman Tessa Bailey, and she hit her fourth home run of the season to left field. With the Bobcats down three, Chelsea Hortman hit a solo home run to right field to cut the lead to 9-7, but Ohio could not muster up anymore offense.
“We did not stop fighting in every single at-bat,” Gebele said. “Everybody was contributing base hit wise. We hit four home runs in the game today, which kept the morale high.”
Ohio obtained the lead early in Sunday’s game. After Gilbert hit a sacrifice fly to right field in the top of the third to give Ball State a 1-0 lead, Ohio answered with two runs in the bottom half of the inning. Gellerman hit a double into the gap to score Bailey and tie the game at one, and the senior catcher stole third and scored on a wild pitch to give the Bobcats a 2-1 lead.
The Bobcat lead did not last for long, however. In the top of the fifth inning, the Cardinals regained the lead on a 3-run blast from Hanne Stuedemann, and Lauren McClary was replaced by freshman Savannah Jo Dorsey.
After scoring one run in the sixth for a 5-2 lead, Ball State assured themselves victory in the top of the seventh, behind a 3-run home run from Reyna.
“It is frustrating, we did not string a bunch of hits together,” Gellerman said. “It would have been really exciting to beat them.”
In the bottom of the seventh, Hortman hit a 2-run bomb to make the score 8-4. Gellerman said the home run gave the Bobcats renewed hope.
“It (the home run) really got the energy going,” she said. “We felt like we could come back. It gave us hope, but we still fell short.”
The Bobcats will take on the Marshall Thundering Herd on April 17 for a double header starting at 4 p.m. Hermanek had some kind words for the Bobcats’ fierce rivals.
“We have Marshall coming in on Wednesday,” she said. “They have a good team and a good pitcher on the mound. We have to win the individual innings. The pitchers have to keep the ball down and we have to be ready for the running game.”