Nick Bonaventura, Staff Writer

Sophomore Jessica Simpson pitches a shutout against Ball State. (MICHAEL GRIGGS | The Miami Student)

Behind the strength of three shutouts by the pitching staff, Miami University’s softball team swept the University of Dayton (UD) and split a series with Ball State University (BSU) over the weekend.

“Our entire pitching staff is working hard to get better each time out,” head coach Kelly Schoenly said. “To have three shutouts in four games is a testament to their desire to be sharp every time they step on the field.”

Miami’s record now stands at 14-15 overall and 1-1 in the Mid-American Conference (MAC).

The RedHawks’ offense flexed its muscle Thursday in doubleheader action as Miami defeated the Flyers 8-0 in six innings, followed by a 12-0 victory in five innings in the nightcap.

Sophomore pitcher Jessica Simpson shut down UD in the first game, allowing just five hits while striking out 10. Miami wasted little time taking the lead, as senior outfielder Alicia Hogl doubled home two runners in the bottom of the first to take the lead, and the ‘Hawks never looked back en route to the easy win.

Simpson credited the offensive surge to the great performance that Miami received from the pitching staff.

“Pitching is really where it all starts, the game revolves around the circle,” Simpson said. “When your pitcher is having a good game, it makes everyone else feel much more confident and it really shows.”

The second game of the doubleheader started as a pitcher’s duel, as each team managed only one hit through two innings. Miami quickly changed that in the third inning by exploding for seven runs, highlighted by senior shortstop Sarah Billstrom’s sixth home run of the season. The Red and White wound up winning 12-0 in five innings. Senior pitcher Meredith Linch shut out UD for four innings to earn the victory.

“The girls played well in all areas against Dayton,” Schoenly said. “It was also fantastic to play lots of different players. We have so much depth this year that there are some non-starters that will be asked to come in to pinch hit when the game is on the line.”

Saturday afternoon once again saw Simpson pitch a great game, as she pitched a complete game shutout, allowing only six hits and striking out five in the RedHawks’ MAC opener against Ball State. Miami used a seventh inning grand slam junior infielder Meghan Mawn to secure the victory.

In the final game of the weekend, Miami lost in a close contest to the Cardinals, 4-3. Two walks and two errors in the bottom of the seventh inning resulted in two BSU runs to win the game. Simpson pitched 6.1 innings, allowing two earned runs on seven hits with nine strikeouts.

“I feel really great about how I’ve been playing lately,” Simpson said. “Everything is starting to come together and it’s making me feel really positive about our season.”

Miami returns to action Tuesday, April 6 as they travel to Eastern Kentucky University for a non-conference doubleheader.