Miami softball showed its resiliency this past weekend when it hosted the Kent State Golden Flashes. The RedHawks lost 4-3 in Game One of Friday’s doubleheader, but battled through four extra innings in Game Two to win 6-5 in 11 frames. In Saturday’s rubber-match, the ’Hawks came from behind to edge out the Flashes 3-2 and claim their second Mid-American Conference series of the season.
“I feel like our team took a turn for the better this weekend,” head coach Clarisa Crowell said on Saturday. “What I really like is that they find ways to win.”
Until this weekend, the RedHawks’ (17-19, 6-8 MAC) last MAC series win came on March 25, and the ’Hawks are 2-2-1 in MAC series, a slower start for a program that has finished over .500 for the past three seasons. Two years ago, the team won a MAC Tournament championship and played through NCAA regionals.
Now, Miami softball has 12 games and three three-game MAC series before postseason play begins. That’s 12 chances to build momentum in an attempt to replicate previous years’ success.
“We’re not necessarily where I thought we would be at this point in the season, we’ve had some ups and downs, but they’ve shown these past couple of games how tough of a team they can be,” Crowell said.
In her sixth year at the helm of Miami Softball, Crowell has experienced the ups and downs. In her first two years as head coach, her teams finished below .500 on the season and in conference play. Then, she coached the RedHawks to those three years of over .500 records, finishing 13-7, 15-7 and 14-9 in MAC play.
The RedHawks currently sit second in the six-team, tightly contested MAC East. The ’Hawks share a 6-8 MAC record with Buffalo and Kent State, and trail the dominant Ohio University Bobcats who have logged a 12-1 conference record.
Miami softball looks to the youth of its seven freshmen and four sophomores and the experience of three juniors and four seniors for a competitive run into the postseason. Senior outfielder Megan Wurts leads Miami with a .339 batting average, followed by freshman infielder Ashton Slone with a .316 mark and sophomore Haeley Tran’s .280 record. Freshman pitcher Courtney Vierstra records an 2.34 ERA and is 13-10 on the season.
“We don’t have a lot of seniority,” senior infielder Kat Lee said, “But I think we’re working on bouncing back and making sure that, no matter what, we’re fighting until the end – through that last pitch, that last out, no matter what the score is.”
If this weekend is any indication, the 2017-18 RedHawks are ready for a fight and up for the challenge. Every game, the ‘Hawks want to capitalize on two of the three elements of their game – pitching, hitting and defense.
“We’ve got a good chance and if we can finish out strong we’ll have a good end to the year,” Crowell said. “I’m just really pleased with the way that we’re playing right now.”
The RedHawks take on non-conference Wright State in a doubleheader tonight with first pitch being thrown at 5 p.m. at the Miami Softball Stadium.