Having won 10 of their last 13 games coming into a four-game set that included two games against Kent State University (KSU) Friday and two games against the University at Buffalo Saturday, the Miami University softball team lost three of four games against their two conference foes, dropping their record to 20-19 overall and 5-5 in the Mid-American Conference (MAC).
Senior pitcher Meredith Linch had spectacular performances in two of the four games, pitching 11.1 innings in the second game of the doubleheader against KSU, only giving up one earned run and four hits while striking out eight. Linch then came back to pitch a complete game in the nightcap against Buffalo Saturday, giving up one run on seven hits while striking out four.
“Meredith was very consistent (over the weekend) and gave us a chance to win games,” Head Coach Kelly Kovach Schoenly said. “She was extremely gritty and I was very proud of her.”
Miami only scored five runs all weekend, and left 32 runners on base in the doubleheader against KSU. The RedHawks only left nine runners on base in the two games against Buffalo Saturday, but these losses hurt the Red and White as they dropped to fourth place in the MAC East Division.
“We have no option but to bounce back at this point,” Linch said. “We didn’t do what we had planned (this weekend) and we need to just play our game from here on out. Our team is talented enough that we will get the job done.”
In game one against KSU, the Golden Flashes scored three runs in the first two innings against sophomore pitcher Jessica Simpson, which proved to be enough as Miami would not score a run until the top of the seventh inning when senior shortstop Sarah Billstrom drove home sophomore third baseman Daniela Torres.
Meanwhile, game two was marked by one of the best pitching performances of Linch’s career, as she kept Miami in the game into extra innings. However, once the game reached the 10th inning, the international tiebreaker rule was implemented, which started a runner on second every inning with no outs.
KSU took advantage of this, butting that runner over to third and then singling in the bottom of the 12 to sweep Miami.
Billstrom finished game two going 2-4 with a run batted in (RBI), while junior infielder Meghan Mawn finished the series against KSU having gone 4-8 with one run scored.
After losing two games to KSU, the Red and White continued to struggle in game one against Buffalo, as a solo homerun by freshman designated hitter Taylor Rice marked the only run Miami would score, as Simpson once again took the loss, dropping her to 13-11 on the year.
Rice, Torres and Billstrom each finished the game going 1-3 at the plate.
In game two, the Bulls jumped out to a 1-0 lead in the bottom of the second, but the RedHawks quickly responded with two runs in the top of the third thanks to great hitting by Mawn, who hit an RBI double to drive in two runs. Linch continued her success with another spectacular performance, shutting down the Buffalo offense for the rest of the game. Mawn finished the game 1-3 with two RBIs while Torres was 2-4 on the day.
“Everyone is always ready to come in (to play) whenever they are needed,” Linch said. “We have a lot of players that are capable of doing a lot of things.”
Next up for the Red and White will be a four game home stand starting Friday with a double-header against the last place team in the MAC, University of Toledo. The RedHawks will then face off against the Bowling Green State University Falcons Saturday and Sunday, hoping to gain some ground on their MAC East Division rivals. The first pitch against Toledo is set for 1 p.m. Friday.