Softball splits series against Bobcats

Written by: Zack West

The University of Akron’s softball team split a two-game series against MAC rival Ohio last weekend, dropping game one 9-7 on Saturday and shutting out the Bobcats 2-0 on Sunday to pick up their first MAC win of the season.

In game one, the Bobcats (16-21, 5-5 MAC) got ahead in the bottom of the first and then scored another run in the bottom of the fourth to make the score 2-0.

The Zips (14-23-1, 1-9 MAC) tied the game in the top of the fifth thanks to an RBI single by Taryn Allmon.  Brittany Mauer drove in Allmon two batters later with a double.

A five-run inning by OU broke the game open, making the score 7-2 off four hits.

The Zips chipped their way back into the game in the top of the sixth with a solo-homerun by Rachael Ratcliffe, her seventh of the year.

The Bobcats added two more runs to make the mark 9-3 after six innings of play.

In the top of the seventh, the Zips’ four-run rally would ultimately come up short despite heavy rain that plagued both teams for the second half of the game. Allmon and Keelia Nester got on with singles to lead off the inning. After a sacrifice bunt by Mauer that moved the runners, Alex Helfrich would reach first on a bunt to load the bases.

Alissa Birkhimer reached first after she was hit by a pitch, in the processes bringing in a run. Ratcliffe brought in two runs with a double and Amanda Ricker, pinch running for Birkhimer, scored on a balk with the bases loaded.

With runners on second and third and the go-ahead run at the plate, the Zips fell short on a groundout by Kellie Roudabush and a flyout by Crystal Hernandez to end the game.

Mauer (12-18) was credited with the loss from the circle, giving up five runs (four earned) while striking out three in four innings of work.

Akron Head Coach Julie Jones expressed how the team hit better, but defensive plays seemed to make the difference.

“There were some mishaps behind the plate,” she said. “If it weren’t for some of those, we might have won.

“If you score seven runs you should win,” Jones said. “That’s just not how you play the game.”

Game two on Sunday was a pitcher’s duel all the way to the sixth inning, when the Zips plated the first runs of the game.

Mauer got the complete game shutout with four strikeouts and one walk, while only giving up five hits.

“Brittany [Mauer] saw what it was going to take to win and she put that on her shoulders,” Jones said of her starting pitcher.

In the first, each team led off with hits but stranded runners at the end of the inning. Both teams would record only two hits each in the next four innings.

In the top of the sixth, the Zips broke the drought when Helfrich singled and Birkhimer hit her sixth homerun of the season to make the score 2-0.

The Zips threatened to increase the lead in the top of the seventh by loading the bases with one out.  The Ohio pitcher, Lauren McClary, however, retired the last two batters to end the inning.

Mauer recorded two strikeouts in the bottom of the seventh to help the Zips seal the win.

“We finally put all three things together,” Jones said. “We played good defense, we hit and we pitched well.”

UA will try to build on their win when they travel to Moon Township, Pa., to take on Robert Morris today.  A “notoriously good hitting team” according to Jones, should be good preparation for MAC foe Northern Illinois this weekend, who is also a very good hitting team.