The Bobcats won Game 2 in their Saturday doubleheader against Western Michigan, 2-1, in Athens, scoring both of their runs in the first inning.
Ohio coach Jodi Hermanek moved shortstop Amanda Dalton from the nine-spot in the batting order to leadoff hitter after Game 1 and Dalton produced immediately, hitting a hard grounder to the Broncos third baseman, which she muffled for an error to let Dalton reach first base.
Dalton would continue by stealing second and moving to third on a single by Taylor Saxton to shallow left-field. Mikayla Cooper hit a groundout to score the first and only run needed for Ohio.
After a stagnant offensive performance during Game 1, the ‘Cats didn’t play out of character this game, playing the style coach Hermanek has wanted during the series, seemingly to finding more production in the offense without power. Better yet, Western Michigan had four errors throughout the series – and Ohio capitalized on them.
“We don’t try and press and swing for the fences every single cut,” Hermanek said. “We just get on base, manufacture runs and put pressure on the defense, and when we do that, we force errors on the other team,” Hermanek said.
Hermanek also figured out what else probably helped her team win this game: the different home-plate umpire.
“Just because a pitcher’s great doesn’t mean she’s going to be great for 14 innings,” Hermanek said. “The zone’s really different when you get a different umpire back there. (The opposing pitcher) had an empire that had her zone in the first game, and we had to go attack a zone that was in a gray area. Once she had to bring the ball up a little bit to the zone in the second game we were taking advantage of it.”
The team also showed more discipline in Game 2 that allowed them to realize the change in the strike zone early, Hermanek noted.
Ohio pitcher Savannah Jo Dorsey had a strong outing, giving up only one run in a complete-game, 10-strikeout performance. Dorsey started less than an hour after she pitched a scoreless last-inning in Game 1, closing for starter Danielle Stiene. Both pitchers combined for 20 strikeouts Saturday.
“Another great pitcher throwing a good game,” Hermanek said. “We just got run support, and Savvy did her job. (Danielle also) threw a great game in the first game, we just didn’t give her any kind of offensive support. But that script changed this game.”
The Bobcats (19-9, MAC 2-1) won two of their three games against the Broncos this weekend, which were their first contests against the conference this season.
Hermanek and her team now look forward to Ohio’s doubleheader against a 12th-ranked Kentucky Wildcats team this Tuesday, noting how “awesome” of an experience it will be for them to host a high-ranking team and to put on a show for their softball fans.
Both games will be played in Ohio Softball Field, starting at 4 p.m.