AKRON, Ohio - With its back against the wall, the Miami University softball team fought hard in winning its final three games to qualify for the 2014 Mid-American Conference Tournament. The RedHawks are the eighth seed for the double-elimination event. Miami will take on top seed Ball State in its first game on Wednesday at 1:30 p.m. The ‘Hawks second game will be against either fourth seed Kent State or fifth seed Ohio on Thursday at either 11 a.m. (if Miami loses first game) or 1:30 p.m. (if Miami wins first game). All games take place at Firestone Stadium in Akron.
TOURNEY HISTORY: This is the eighth consecutive season Miami has qualified for the MAC Tournament. During the past seven seasons, the RedHawks have had a lot of success, going 14-11 at the event, while winning titles in 2009 and 2012. (Miami has also won the tournament one other time, in 2005). Last season, the RedHawks defeated Toledo, 5-4, in their opening game. They then dropped back-to-back heartbreakers against Northern Illinois (2-1) and Ohio (3-2) to end their season. All-time, Miami is a combined 26-16 at the MAC Tournament.
FINAL MAC STATS: With the conclusion of the regular season, here is how Miami stacked up against its fellow conference teams in several statistical categories (in MAC games only). The RedHawks ranked second in the league in team batting average at .294 and seventh in team ERA at 3.22. They were also sixth in fielding percentage at .961. Individually, sophomore outfielder Taylor Shuey ranked eighth in batting average at .385, while sophomore pitcher/designated player Jenna Modic ranked eighth in slugging percentage at .641. Junior outfielder Bree Lipscomb led the MAC with 11 doubles, while senior second baseman Kristy Arbour led the league with nine sac bunts. Sophomore pitcher Amber Logemann was fourth in conference with a .215 batting average against, and tied for fifth with 65 strikeouts.
POTENTIAL FIRST TWO OPPONENT PREVIEWS
ABOUT BALL STATE: Ball State is 32-17 overall and won the MAC regular season with a 12-4 record. The Cardinals finished the season strong going 3-1 last weekend while scoring 32 runs. They split a doubleheader with Central Michigan on Friday before sweeping Eastern Michigan with two five-inning run rule wins over the weekend. Ball State is known for its strong offense, led by MAC Player of the Year Jennifer Gilbert. She is hitting .414 with 19 home runs and 61 RBI. She ranks among the top 10 all-time in career home runs. The Cardinals’ top pitcher is sophomore Nicole Steinbach. She is 14-10 with a 3.72 ERA in 30 appearances (24 starts).
SERIES WITH BALL STATE: Ball State leads the all-time series with Miami, 51-41. The Cardinals won both meetings with the RedHawks in a two-game series in Muncie April 26-27. On April 26, Miami kept BSU off the board until the bottom of the sixth inning. The Cardinals scored two runs on their way to a 2-1 victory. The Ball State offense got on track the next day as it defeated the ‘Hawks, 9-1, in five innings.
ABOUT KENT STATE: Kent State is 24-18 overall and finished fourth in the MAC with a 10-6 record. The Golden Flashes dropped both games to Buffalo last weekend as the Bulls were able to win the MAC East Division crown. Kent State is led offensively by freshman infielder Maddy Grimm. She is hitting .293 with 13 home runs and 41 RBI. Its top pitcher is junior Emma Johnson. She is 14-9 with a 2.16 ERA in 24 appearances (20 starts).
SERIES WITH KENT STATE: Miami holds a 50-49 lead in the all-time series with Kent State. The RedHawks took the lead in the series with a two-game sweep of a doubleheader on March 28 in Akron (moved there due to poor field conditions in Kent). Miami won the opener, 9-2. Bree Lipscomb, Allie Larrabee and Remy Edwards each had two RBI in that contest. The ‘Hawks then outlasted the Golden Flashes, 4-3, in nine innings in the nightcap.
ABOUT OHIO: Ohio is 28-24 overall and finished fifth in the MAC with a 12-8 record. The Bobcats went 2-2 over the final weekend of the regular season, splitting a doubleheader with Western Michigan on Friday and splitting a series with Northern Illinois over the weekend. Ohio is led offensively by sophomore shortstop Amanda Dalton. Its leadoff hitter, she sets the pace with a .344 average. The Bobcats’ top pitcher is sophomore Savannah Jo Dorsey. She is 21-16 with a 2.64 ERA in 43 appearances (29 starts).
SERIES WITH OHIO: Ohio holds a 54-44-1 lead in the all-time series with Miami. The Bobcats swept a doubleheader in Oxford on April 18, despite only scoring runs in two out of the 16 innings played. The opener was a true pitchers’ duel, with Ohio scoring in the top of the ninth to take a 1-0 victory. The RedHawks held a 3-0 lead in the nightcap, but OU scored four runs in the top of the seventh to come away with a 4-3 win.
UP NEXT FOR MIAMI: The RedHawks season will continue if they win the 2014 MAC Tournament. The winner of the event receives an automatic bid to the NCAA Tournament, which begins with the regional rounds on May 15.