May 11, 2012
AKRON, Ohio – The Miami University softball team kept its season alive with two big wins in the MAC Tournament on Saturday. The RedHawks started with a 5-1 victory over seventh seed Kent State to eliminate the Golden Flashes from the tournament. A few hours later, Miami would fight the regular season champion and top seed Ball State, tooth-and-nail, and come out with a 4-2 victory thanks to a tremendously thrown game by senior Jessica Simpson. The Red and White improve to 37-18 on the season, a new single-season record for victories.
One of three teams remaining in the MAC Tournament, Miami will next face Western Michigan on Saturday at 11 a.m. in an elimination game. The winner of that will advance to the championship against Central Michigan at 1:30 p.m. Because the Chippewas have not lost yet, they still need to be beaten twice by their opponent. If the second championship game is necessary it’ll be at 4 p.m. or 30 minutes after conclusion of first game. So Miami needs to win three games on Saturday without losing in order to take the MAC title. All games will stream live and free on the MAC website. Click on the link above for the stream.
Miami got off to a fast start with three runs in the top of the first against Kent State. Kirstie Fehrenbach reached on a single, while Jordan McElroy was safe on an error. Shanyn McIntyre would walk to load the bases with no one out. After the Flashes got the lead runner at home, Kayla Ledbetter would drive in McElroy on a groundout for the game’s first run. Larrabee’s grounder would then go through the shortstop’s leg, allowing two more runs to score and make it 3-0.
The ‘Hawks added to the lead in the top of the third. Daniela Torres led off with a walk. She stole second and advance to third on a passed ball. After Larrabee walked, Casey Drees drove Torres in with a single down the left field line that made it 4-0.
Kent State would score a run off of Simpson in the bottom of the third. Miami would get it back in the top of the sixth. McIntyre would single to drive in Fehrenbach, who had singled earlier in the inning.
That would be all Simpson would need as she would allow only one more hit the rest of the way. She finished the opener allowing only one run on four hits. She struck out five.
Fehrenbach finished 2-for-4 with one run scored in the opener. McIntyre was 1-for-3 with one RBI.
After a quick meal and about four hours rest, Miami got right back to work in another elimination game against the Cardinals. One of the best hitting teams in the entire nation, Simpson would keep them off the board for the first three innings. However, the Cardinals’ starter Kim Mazzapica also pitched well, keeping the game scoreless through three.
Miami broke through in the top of the fourth. McIntyre led off with a double to left center. Torres then singled to centerfield and advance to second on an error by the catcher. McIntyre moved up to third on the play. Ledbetter would follow with a single through the left side to score McIntyre, Torres advanced to third. Two batters later, Drees would make it 2-0 with a deep sacrifice fly ball to right field that Torres was able to tag up to and come home.
Ball State’s offense was too good to keep off the board forever. After plating a run in the bottom of the fourth, two doubles to lead off the fifth would tie the score at two. A long fly ball to right by Audrey Bickel would lead to the first out of the inning, but it allowed the go-ahead run, Amanda Montalto, to tag and advance to third. Simpson would fight back and strike out both Taylor Rager and Allison Mercado to get out of the threat and keep the score tied.
In the top of the sixth, Torres led off with a single. Ledbetter would sacrifice her over to second base. An infield single by Larrabee would put runners at the corners with only one out. Megan Mattera would come in to pinch-hit. She followed with the biggest hit of her young career, driving a double to deep left center, bringing home both runners and making it 4-2.
Simpson would retire Ball State in order in the bottom of the sixth. After striking out MAC Player of the Year Jennifer Gilbert to lead off the bottom of the seventh, Montalto would walk and Bickel would single through the left side to give the Cardinals runners at first and second with one out. Simpson would strike out Rager, but Amanda Carpenter would draw a walk to load the bases. Ball State would put in pinch-hitter Katrina Morales. Simpson would strike her out looking on three pitches to end the contest and secure the win for Miami.
Simpson allowed only one earned run on five hits against the Cardinals in seven innings pitched. She struck out 10, and now has 986 strikeouts for her career. She needs only 14 more to become the first Miami pitcher with 1,000. With her two victories on Friday, she improves her record to 28-13. She breaks her own single-season win record of 27 that she set last season.
Torres finished the nightcap 2-for-4 with two runs scored. McElroy was 2-for-4, while Mattera was 1-for-1 with two RBI.