May 9, 2012
AKRON, Ohio - The Miami University softball team looks to earn a berth in the NCAA Tournament as it participates in the 2012 MAC Tournament at the Firestone Stadium in Akron this week. The RedHawks have earned the second seed and received a double bye in the double-elimination tournament. Miami’s first game will be against either third-seed Bowling Green, sixth-seed Central Michigan or seventh-seed Kent State on Thursday at 7:30 p.m. Its second game will be on Friday at 1:30 p.m. if it loses the first game or at 5 p.m. if it wins the first game. Live blogs will be conducted for every game the Red and White play at MURedHawks.com.
RECENT MAC TOURNAMENT SUCCESS: The RedHawks have been very successful at the MAC Tournament the last three seasons under the guidance of this year’s seniors. Miami won it all in 2009, going 4-0 and only allowing two runs the entire tournament. The past two seasons, the Red and White have dropped their opening game, only to survive two elimination games before ultimately falling. Also having won the 2005 MAC Tournament, Miami is 20-14 all-time at the event.
SIMPSON PITCHER OF THE WEEK ONE LAST TIME: For the seventh time this season, senior pitcher Jessica Simpson was named the MAC East Division Pitcher of the Week. It ties the single-season record for weekly pitching awards that she set last season. Her 16 total awards are the second-most any MAC player has received all-time.
Simpson had one final great week as she earned three more victories to finish the regular season with 26. She allowed only two earned runs in 21.2 innings pitched for an ERA of 0.65. Opponents batted only .190 against her. Simpson got her first victory on Friday when she struck out 12, while allowing only two runs in a 3-2 victory over Bowling Green. Those would be the only earned runs she allowed all weekend. She shut the Falcons out over the last 2.2 innings in the nightcap of the doubleheader on Friday. On Saturday, Simpson shutout Toledo, 2-0, on two hits while striking out seven. It was the 43rd shutout of her career, tying the MAC record. She finished her week off by pitching five innings in Miami’s 9-1 win over the Rockets on Sunday. Simpson struck out 23 batters in her four games and had a WHIP of 0.88.
Potential opening Opponent Previews
ABOUT BOWLING GREEN: Bowling Green is 35-20 overall and earned the third seed by finishing 15-7 in the MAC. Last weekend, the Falcons split their doubleheader with Miami on Friday but was swept by Ball State over the weekend, allowing the RedHawks to capture the MAC East title. They have engineered one of the best turnarounds in the nation after going 12-32 and not qualifying for the MAC Tournament with a 6-15 record last season. BGSU’s secret has been its two freshmen pitchers who have already established themselves as two of the better ones in the MAC. Paris Imholz is 17-9 overall with a 1.85 ERA in 45 appearances (28 starts), while Jamie Kertes is 16-11 overall with a 2.30 ERA in 44 appearances (27 starts). While not a dominating offensive team, the Falcons have a few strong hitters led by junior infielder Paige Berger. She is batting .329 with seven home runs and 34 RBI.
SERIES WITH BOWLING GREEN: The all-time series between the teams is currently tied at 44 wins apiece. The teams split their doubleheader last Friday in Oxford. Miami took the first game, 3-2, thanks to a 12-strikeout performance from Jessica Simpson. The Falcons came back and took the nightcap, 3-1.
ABOUT CENTRAL MICHIGAN: Central Michigan is 26-25 overall and finished 11-10 in the MAC. The Chippewas closed the regular season winning their last five conference games, including sweeping a two-game set with Eastern Michigan last weekend. CMU is led offensively by senior infielder Molly Coldren. She is batting .349 with 14 home runs and 45 RBI. Its top pitcher is junior Kara Dornbos. She is 12-14 overall with a 2.39 ERA in 30 appearances (27 starts).
SERIES WITH CENTRAL MICHIGAN: Central Michigan leads the all-time series with Miami, 61-25. The two teams split a doubleheader in Oxford on Apr. 20. Simpson threw a three-hit shutout to lead the RedHawks to a 4-0 win in the opener. That victory made Kelly Kovach Schoenly the all-time winningest softball coach at Miami. The Chippewas came back to earn a 2-0 victory in the nightcap.
ABOUT KENT STATE: Kent State is 26-28 overall and finished 11-11 in the MAC. The Golden Flashes had a tough ending to the season, dropping their final seven games. Last weekend, they were swept in a doubleheader at Akron on Friday, before dropping single games to Ohio on Saturday and Sunday. Kent State is led by offensively by senior catcher Jessica Blanton. She is batting .327 with six home runs and 27 RBI. In the circle they have freshman Emma Johnson. She is 15-14 overall with a 2.22 ERA in 38 appearances (26 starts).
SERIES WITH KENT STATE: The series between the RedHawks and the Golden Flashes is tied at 47 wins apiece. Miami evened the all-time series with a sweep of a two-game series at Kent earlier this season. On Apr. 28, home runs by Shanyn McIntyre and Kayla Ledbetter led the Red and White to a 4-1 victory. The next day, Miami scored two runs in the top of the seventh to earn a dramatic, come-from-behind, 3-2, victory.
UP NEXT FOR MIAMI: Miami needs to win the MAC Tournament to continue its season. If the RedHawks earn the championship, they will receive an automatic berth to the 2012 NCAA Tournament. The selection show is on Sunday at 10 p.m. on ESPNU. The NCAA Regionals take place at campus sites, May 17-20.