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Softball: Ohio enters MAC Tournament as the second seed

For the first time since 2019, the Mid-American Conference Softball Tournament will be played at Firestone Stadium in Akron, Ohio. Ohio will make the trip north as the second seed in the double-elimination bracket. The late charge against Ohio (30-22, 18-8 MAC) saw it win 17 of its last 19 MAC games, including an active nine-game win streak against conference foes.

By earning one of the top two seeds, Ohio has advanced to the second round and will face the winner of the matchup between No. 3 Western Michigan and No. 6 Ball State.

Tournament information

Dates: Wednesday May 8 to Saturday May 11

Location: Firestone Stadium (Akron, Ohio)

Participants: Miami (No. 1), Ohio (No. 2), Western Michigan (No. 3), Toledo (No. 4), Central Michigan (No. 5), Ball State (No. 6)*

Ohio’s first game will be streamed here on ESPN+

You can find the Central Championship here

You can find the bracket here

Scouting Miami (45-7, 26-1 MAC)

Head coach: Karin Kumar (fourth season)

Individual statistical leaders

Batting average: Karli Spad (.421)

Hits: Spad and Jenna Golembiewski (67)

Points: sterilized (72)

Home runs: Spad (34)

RBI: Golembiewski (77)

On-base percentage: paid (.535)

Innings pitched: Madilyn Reeves (141.0 IP)

ERA: Addy Jarvis (4.11)

Strikethrough: Reeves (119)

Comments:

Miami has been the best team in the conference all season, winning 18 straight games to start MAC play. The Redhawks are also ranked 21st in the country according to Softball America. Miami leads the NCAA with 154 home runs. Leading the way are MAC Player of the Year Spaid, Jenna Golembiewski and Kate Kobayashi, who have each hit more than 20 long balls this season.

Pitching wasn’t so sure for Miami. It has a team ERA of 3.81 which stands out when you consider the productive offense on the other side of the ball. After winning the MAC last year, Miami has a solid chance to repeat.

Scouting Western Michigan (29-20, 16-8 MAC)

Head coach: Marlee Wilson (first season)

Individual statistical leaders

Batting average: Payton Kelly (.355)

Hits: Kelly (50)

Points: Riley Dittmar (34)

Homeruns: Kelly and Megan Welsh (5)

RBI: Dittmar (28)

On-base percentage: Dittmar (.446)

Innings pitched: Rissa Bajusz (168.0 IP)

ERA: Bajusz (1.67)

Strikeouts: Bajusz (216)

Comments:

Western Michigan has the best pitching staff in the MAC, along with an offense that ranks fifth. MAC Pitcher of the Year Rissa Bajusz leads the pitching staff. Her 1.67 ERA and 216 strikeouts lead the conference by a wide margin. Bajusz is seventh in the country in strikeouts. Like Ohio last year, Western Michigan is led by a first-year head coach and a dominant pitching staff.

The parallels between Ohio and Western Michigan are clear. Although Western Michigan leads the conference in pitching statistics, Ohio is second. Ohio ranks fourth in the MAC in hitting, while Western Michigan ranks fifth. The hitting core that can produce will be the key for Western Michigan. The power isn’t something it has relied on this season, as the team’s .278 batting average shows that the team is spraying the ball around the park to score enough to support a dominant pitching staff.

Scouting Toledo (25-21, 15-10 MAC)

Head coach: Jessica Bracamonte (second season)

Individual statistical leaders

Batting average: Sidney Griffith (.381)

Hits: Eli Enriquez (58)

Points: Enriquez (37)

Home runs: Jenna Kroll (6)

RBI: Riley Mohr (32)

On-base percentage: Griffith (.420)

Innings pitched: Sophia Knight (150.2 IP)

ERA: Knight (3.07)

Delete: Knight (103)

Comments:

Unlike the other teams above, Toledo is not a team that excels or struggles at anything, but certainly has a niche. Toledo hit the third-highest batting average in the MAC this season, but was tied for the fewest home runs of any team in the MAC Tournament with 20 round-trippers. Toledo ace Sophia Knight has been able to outlast opponents this season despite playing fewer innings than other aces in the MAC.

Toledo is a team that plays small ball to win games. They are second among teams in the MAC tournament with 72 steals, led by Eli Enriquez, who has stolen 33 bags this season. In addition, Toledo’s 41 sacrifice bunts also determined the conference.

Scouting Central Michigan (16-30, 13-11 MAC)

Head coach: McCall Salmon (fifth year)

Individual statistical leaders

Batting average: Skylar Coberley (.298)

Hits: Carly Sleeman (44)

Walking: Tolmie Abbey (29)

Home runs: Allyssa Hollo (5)

RBI: Sleeman (29)

On-base percentage: Tolmie (.427)

Innings pitched: Grace Lehto (134.0 IP)

ERA: Mackenzie Langan (2.78)

Delete: Lehto (107)

Comments:

Central Michigan was one of the worst offensive teams in the conference, with a lack of consistent hitting across the lineup. The team batting average of .249 is the lowest of the six teams in the MAC tournament. Additionally, Central Michigan is hitting next to no power with just 20 home runs and has scored just 201 runs, the lowest in the field.

That said, Central Michigan can win games against lesser competition. Although it had a 13-11 record in the MAC, Central Michigan went 7-3 against teams not in the MAC tournament. Plus, it finds ways to win ugly games. A 1-0 win over Ohio earlier this season illustrates this perfectly. Six of the wins in MAC play have come in games decided by 3 or fewer runs.

Scouting Ball Status (25-27, 12-13 MAC)

Head coach: Helen Peña (first season)

Individual statistical leaders

Batting average: McKayla Timmons (.394)

Hits: Timmons (61)

Points: Timmons (49)

Home runs: Timmons (23)

RBI: Timmons (53)

On-base percentage: Timmons (.510)

Innings pitched: Francys King (145.2 IP)

ERA: King (3.46)

Delete: King (75)

Comments:

Ball State boasts the second-best power hitting team in the conference, trailing only Miami in home runs and RBIs. However, the team has yet to find consistency and has snuck into the last seed of the MAC Tournament. After beating Ohio twice to start conference play, Ball State lost its next seven games. Ball State won its next five games to regain some form before losing three in a row.

With a solid one-two punch in the circle in the form of King and Birdie Murphy, Ball State has the talent to play with anyone. All it really takes is one hot streak, as seen earlier this season. That’s something that, while a long shot given its performance against top-tier competition, is possible for Ball State.

Ohio news and notes:

After the Senior Celebration against Bowling Green, a series that Ohio won, it goes to Akron as the second seed. This will allow Ohio to avoid Miami for as long as possible, which seems to be the biggest threat on both sides. Ohio has gone a combined 6-5 against the other teams outside of Miami.

Ohio is in the best possible position despite a 1-6 start to MAC play. The defense is clicking for Ohio Head Coach Hall as Skipp Miller puts together another dominant season in the circle. Additionally, the team’s batting average was consistent throughout the season with a .278 batting average and 38 home runs.

@mbgoldstein1107

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