ATHENS, Ohio - As the Miami University softball team hits the heart of the Mid-American Conference season, it hits the road for a pair of key series. On Friday, the RedHawks will head to Athens for the annual “Battle of the Bricks” as they face Ohio in a doubleheader beginning at 1 p.m. Miami then travels to Akron for single games on Saturday at 2 p.m. and Sunday at 1 p.m.

DIVISION LEAD: At 6-2 Miami is currently tied with Kent State for the MAC East Division lead. The RedHawks are looking to repeat as division champs after taking the crown in 2012. That was only the second MAC East title in school history and the first since winning the initial one in 1983.

MIAMI SOFTBALL PLAYERS RANK NATIONALLY: The NCAA released its latest national softball statistical rankings on Monday (and therefore don’t include the RedHawks’ doubleheader against Morehead State from this past Tuesday). Several Miami players rank among the top 100 players in the country in specific statistical categories.

Junior catcher Kayla Ledbetter ranks 20th in the nation with an average of 0.78 walks per game. She is also 85th in batting average (.400), 17th in on-base percentage (.542) and 89th in slugging percentage (.711). Junior second baseman Kristy Arbour is the 17th-toughest player in the country to strike out, whiffing once every 34.0 at bats, while freshman outfielder Taylor Shuey ranks 40th in the nation with three triples this season.

FRESHMEN CONTRIBUTING: The RedHawks’ three freshmen continue to make an impact in the lineup. Hailey Reed ranks second on the team with a .368 batting average, including two home runs and 11 RBI. Taylor Shuey ranks third on the ‘Hawks with a .330 batting average with one home run and 15 RBI. She has also shown her prowess with the glove, making several fine defensive plays in right field this season. Jenna Modic ranks fourth on Miami with a .299 batting average. She has settled in as the RedHawks’ number two pitcher, sporting a 1-1 record with a 5.40 ERA in MAC play.

OPPONENT PREVIEWS

ABOUT OHIO: The Bobcats enter the series 19-16 overall and 4-4 in the MAC. They have split every two-game series with each conference opponent they have faced so far. On Tuesday, they were swept in a doubleheader by Ohio State. Ohio is a powerful offensive team that has 52 home runs in 35 games this season. It is led by senior catcher Lauren Gellerman. She is batting .422 with 17 home runs and 44 RBI. The Bobcats’ top pitcher is freshman Savannah Jo Dorsey. She is 9-6 with a 3.49 ERA in 24 appearances (14 starts).

SERIES WITH OHIO: Ohio holds a 51-42-1 all-time record against Miami. The RedHawks swept their two-game series with the Bobcats last season in Oxford. On April 7, Jessica Simpson held Ohio to four hits in a 1-0 win. Miami scored a run in the bottom of the seventh to earn the victory. There were more dramatics the next day when the ‘Hawks defeated the Bobcats, 8-7, in 11 innings. Shanyn McIntyre hit a sacrifice fly in the bottom of the 11th to end that marathon game.

ABOUT AKRON: The Zips are 16-17 overall and 3-5 in the MAC. They swept a non-conference series from Cleveland State in their last action on Tuesday. Akron is led offensively by Alissa Birkhimer. She is batting .340 with two home runs and 14 RBI. Its top pitcher is freshman Erin Seiler. She is 10-11 with a 2.47 ERA in 28 appearances (23 starts).

SERIES WITH AKRON: Akron leads the all-time series with Miami, 40-29. The RedHawks swept a doubleheader last season from the Zips on April 6 in Oxford, taking the first game, 4-0, behind a Jessica Simpson four-hitter and the nightcap, 5-0, after a Paige Myers four-hitter.

UP NEXT FOR MIAMI: Miami will travel to Northern Kentucky for a non-conference doubleheader on Tuesday that begins at 2 p.m. The RedHawks then will head to Muncie, Ind. next weekend for single games against Ball State on Saturday, April 20 at 2 p.m. and Sunday, April 21 at 1 p.m.