TOLEDO, Ohio - After 13 days and a snow-related cancellation, the Miami University softball team returns to action as it begins Mid-American Conference play. First up is a trip up I-75 for series with Toledo and Bowling Green. On Friday, the RedHawks will take on the Rockets in a doubleheader beginning at 1 p.m. They will then face the Falcons in single games on Saturday at 2 p.m. and Sunday at 1 p.m.
TOP EIGHT GO TO TOURNAMENT: Weather permitting, each of the 12 MAC teams will play two games against each of their opponents for a total of 22 contests. The team with the best record in each division will earn a trophy and the right to call themselves champions, but the main focus is to finish in the top eight overall. The eight teams with the best overall records (regardless of division) will qualify for the double-elimination MAC Tournament, May 8-11, at Firestone Stadium in Akron, Ohio. The winner of that tournament receives an automatic bid to the NCAA Tournament.
EXTRA INNINGS: The Miami University softball team has worked overtime often this season, as six of its 22 games have gone into extra innings. That includes three of its last five games. The RedHawks are 2-4 this season in extra inning contests. One difference that will be apparent going forward if Miami plays extras in conference games is that there will be no international tiebreaker rule. The MAC did away with the rule, which places a runner on second base to begin the inning, for conference games beginning with the 2011 season.
SCHEDULE CHANGES: The doubleheader scheduled on Tuesday against Butler has been moved to a 4:30 p.m. start. The RedHawks will make up their snowed out doubleheader against Morehead State with a doubleheader on Tuesday, Apr. 9 beginning at 3 p.m. Keep checking with MURedHawks.com for more potential game additions/time changes.
ABOUT TOLEDO: Toledo enters league play 5-15 overall. Similar to Miami, the Rockets have been unable to take the field since March 16 due to the winter weather. In their last event, they fell in all three games at the Hoosier Classic, dropping one game to host Indiana and two more to UIC. Toledo has a strong team batting average of .270, but its team ERA is 7.92. The Rockets’ top hitter has been sophomore first baseman Leigh Nebendahl. She is batting .339 with eight RBI. Their top pitcher has been sophomore Alli Beery. She is 4-10 with a 7.71 ERA in 17 appearances (16 starts).
SERIES WITH TOLEDO: Toledo holds a 43-38 lead in the all-time series with Miami. The RedHawks won both meetings in Oxford last season. On May 5, Jessica Simpson held the Rockets to only two hits as Miami earned a 5-0 win. The next day, the ‘Hawks took a 9-1, five-inning victory when Casey Drees hit a grand slam in the bottom of the fifth to create the run-rule win.
ABOUT BOWLING GREEN: Bowling Green is 12-8 overall. The Falcons fell to Michigan, 9-1, in their last game on Wednesday. BGSU was picked to win the MAC East Division in the preseason coaches poll. The Falcons have one of the league’s best pitching staffs, sporting a team ERA of 2.66. They have only been able to manage a team batting average of .217, however. One strong hitter for Bowling Green is senior infielder Hannah Fulk. She is batting .321 with two home runs and five RBI. Its top pitcher is sophomore Paris Imholz. She is 9-2 with a 1.53 ERA in 19 appearances (nine starts). She has won the past three MAC East Division Pitcher of the Week awards.
SERIES WITH BOWLING GREEN: The series between the RedHawks and Falcons is tied at 44 wins apiece. Each team picked up a victory last season in a doubleheader on May 4 in Oxford. Miami won the first game, 3-2, with Shanyn McIntyre finishing 2-for-3 with one RBI and one run scored. Bowling Green came back in the nightcap to take a 3-1 victory.
UP NEXT FOR MIAMI: Miami has eight home games scheduled over an eight-day period. On Tuesday, Apr. 2, the RedHawks will host Butler for their home-opening doubleheader beginning at 4:30 p.m. Miami then returns to MAC play on Friday, April 5 when it welcomes Western Michigan to Oxford for a doubleheader beginning at 1 p.m. The ‘Hawks take on Northern Illinois in single games on Saturday, Apr. 6 (2 p.m.) and Sunday, Apr. 7 (1 p.m.). The homestand will conclude on Tuesday, Apr. 9 with a doubleheader against Morehead State beginning at 3 p.m.