Temperatures in the 30s and snowflakes falling overhead didn’t stop the Miami University softball team from splitting a doubleheader Sunday afternoon with defending Mid-American Conference champion Western Michigan.
After splitting two games Friday against the Northern Illinois Huskies, Saturday’s first game against Western Michigan was postponed because of cold temperatures, but the team played two games Sunday.
The ‘Hawks (14-27-1, 4-4 MAC) went into Sunday’s doubleheader hoping to climb up the Mid-American Conference ranks as well as knock off the defending champion.
“Western Michigan came in as the defending champs,” said Head Coach Kelly Schoenly. “We wanted to give them everythingwe had.”
Western Michigan got off to a hot start, loading the bases in the top of the first inning and knocked in a run, but starting pitcher Meredith Linch held strong, delivering two strikeouts to get out of the inning.
The ‘Hawks opened the bottom of the first with junior Christine Bills doubling to center field. Leftfielder Breanna Robinson singled to advance Bills to third, and freshman Briana Burke singled to drive in Bills to tie the game at one.
The RedHawks proceeded to load the bases as Robinson was walked home, giving the RedHawks a lead 2-1 after the first inning.
Miami found itself in trouble in the second inning, as the Broncos once again loaded the bases.
This time the Broncos looked like a championship team, driving in three runs to secure a 4-2 lead.
After the second, Linch pitched five consecutive shutout innings as the ‘Hawks turned up the notch defensively.
Freshman center fielder Alicia Hogl exemplified great defensive play in the sixth inning with a powerful throw from deep center field to throw out a runner at home plate.
Hogl also made a great diving catch the very next inning in the seventh to keep the RedHawks within reaching distance of the Western Michigan lead.
However, the RedHawks struggled to put runs up on the board as the Western Michigan pitching solidified a 4-2 victory.
Sunday’s second game was the complete opposite for the ‘Hawks, as they rebounded to crush Western Michigan 8-0.
The game was called after five innings because of the run-rule.
Despite the weather and a first game loss, freshman pitcher Shalise Lugo came out with confidence and composure, giving the RedHawks their sixth shutout of the season amidst a five-inning, six-strikeout performance.
“The mental game definitely comes into play under conditions like this,” Lugo said. “I knew we needed a good game.”
Junior Kimberly Williams took care of things on the offensive side, giving the ‘Hawks their first runs of the game with a three-run home run to left center field in the first inning.
The score remained at 3-0 until the bottom of the fifth inning, when the RedHawks had their most productive inning of the day.
With the bases loaded, Bills doubled to right center field knocking in three runs to make the score 6-0.
Senior Leslie Macedo followed by driving in Bills with a double down the left field line.
Once again, Williams stepped to the plate and came up big, doubling down the left field line and driving in the pinch-runner Ashley Nieman to run-rule the defending conference champs for an 8-0 shutout victory.
Both the offensive and defensive sides worked flawlessly together in order to ensure the ‘Hawks their 14th win of the season.
“It definitely takes the pressure off of you on the mound when your team hits so well,” Lugo said.
Schoenly gave a lot of credit to Williams for setting the tone.
“Kimberly definitely jumped out in the second game to put us ahead,” Schoenly said. “We didn’t have that boost in the first game.”
The RedHawks softball team welcomes the Purdue University Boilermakers Tuesday for the team’s third consecutive doubleheader, before playing ten straight games on the road.