The Miami University softball team made their home opener Tuesday with a doubleheader against the SEC power University of Kentucky. With 21 games completed this season, the RedHawks have seen strong teams, but Kentucky proved to be a tough competitor.
The RedHawks hung tough with the Wildcats for four innings, with Sarah Billstrom homering in the first inning and giving Miami a 1-0 lead. This lead continued until the fifth, when Meredith Linch began to fatigue as the Wildcats started to connect on some of her pitches. Brittany Cervantes began the action roping a double, and shortstop Molly Johnson punctuated the inning with a homer. The RedHawks also had a case of fielding troubles as they produced two errors in the inning leading to runs.
“The several (errors) we made against Kentucky just threw our team off guard,” outfielder Jordan McElroy said. “It was uncharacteristic of the team to keep making the easy mistakes. The pitchers pitched a good game, and we as defenders did not do our job to back them up.”
Things only got worse in the next inning when the Wildcats exploded for seven more runs with two more errors marring the RedHawks. Miami’s offense remained stagnant, and the ‘Hawks lost with a crushing 10-1 defeat.
In game two of the series, Jessica Simpson took the mound hoping to once again get off to a hot start. Natalie Smith singled to give the Wildcats a 1-0 lead to begin the game. The RedHawks’ offense continued to struggle as Wildcat pitcher Amber Matousek struck out the side. In the third inning, the Wildcats’ offense ran wild as Simpson struggled to contain the firepower Johnson and Megan Yocke unleashed. While Johnson began the inning with a double, Yocke’s triple brought home two runners, and overall the Wildcats came away with four extending the lead to a resounding 5-0 lead.
After the Wildcats added another run, the RedHawks understood it was do or die. The RedHawks were determined as Head Coach Kelly Kovach Schoenly was able to capitalize on a coaching miscue by Kentucky and give batter Daniela Torres a chance to redeem herself after grounding out. Torres advanced Megan Mawn who had reached second base on an error and passed ball, and the ‘Hawks were on the board. Lauren Odom and Jordan McElroy followed with singles to both bring in runs.
At 6-3 the RedHawks were halfway there, and with one out they needed a push, but neither Ashley Gartland nor Billstrom were able to come through. Despite the 6-3 loss, the RedHawks are working to bring more punch to their offense.
“We have seen that we tend to wait to make adjustments until the end of the game,” McElroy said. “It all comes down to focus and being able to do the little things such as getting bunts down and moving runners into scoring positions.”
Schoenly said she remains optimistic about league play.
“I am definitely eager to begin our MAC schedule,” Schoenly said. “Our preseason has definitely prepared us and the girls are fired up for the next six weeks of play. I think we will fight for the league championship if all goes as planned.”
The team’s first MAC opponent is Eastern Michigan University; although the team split the series against EMU in 2008, the ‘Hawks hope to be prepared when they head to Ypsilanti, Mich.