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Softball: 'Cats catch a break in rainout
Ohio was trailing Eastern Michigan 5-3 in the top of the sixth inning when the downpour started. When the decision to call the game was made over an hour after the initial delay, the Bobcats were 3-1 winners.
Funny game, softball.
Ohio took a two-run lead in the bottom of the fifth when designated player Lauren Gellerman mashed a ball to the opposite field that nearly cleared the right field wall. Alexis Joseph and Paige Kemezis scored on one of the longest singles this writer has seen all year.
"I told her that second at-bat, 'Work the count, see some pitches. That way you can get your timing back,'" Ohio coach Jodi Hermanek said. "Then, the first pitch she blasted it and I thought, 'OK, or don't. Just stand in there a swing.'
"A good hitter knows when she wants to commit, right?"
But when Ohio pitcher Emily Wethington returned to the circle for the top of the sixth, the rains followed, and so did the long-ball. The Bobcats all-time strikeout leader served up a pair of two-run home runs to Eagles catcher Sarah Gerber and right fielder Allison Scherer while recording just one out before the monsoon conditions and lightning forced umpires to call the game -- in Ohio's favor.
From the 2011 NCAA Softball Rulebook:
Rule 6.16: A regulation called game shall be declared by the plate umpire if, after five or more innings have been completed, he/she terminates play (for reasons such as lightning, darkness, rain, fire, panic or other causes that place the spectators or players in danger). The score shall be that of the last equal inning played, except that in the following circumstances, the score of the game shall be the total number of runs that each team has scored.
Hermanek said it was a welcome change to have the weather work to her squad's advantage after the rain cancelled a mid-week doubleheader with Ohio State.
"I told the girls before we started this game that our focus was one through five because who knew what was going to happen to us," Hermanek said. "Everything was about the radar. We got through one through five on the stronger end but obviously the top of the sixth is not something we're going to be proud of.
"Kudos to something helping us out, whether it was the weather or the NCAA rules."
Eastern Michigan took a 1-0 lead in the top of the second when left fielder McKenna Ross led-off with a triple to left center field. Wethington struck out the next Eagle batter before surrendering a bloop single to Scherer.
The Bobcats came back to tie the game in the bottom of the third after a slew of miscues from EMU shortstop Stacie Skodinski. Jillian Van Wagnen led-off with an infield single. Then the center fielder swiped second after Skodinski couldn't execute the tag.
After an Alexis Joseph pop-up, Kemezis lined a screamer right at the shortstop but she was only able to get a piece of the ball with her glove and Van Wagnen was able to score from second to knot the game at one apiece.
The win brought Ohio's record to 6-6 in the MAC -- good for the 8th and final spot if the conference tournament were to start today -- and gave Wethington her 14th win on the year.
"In this conference, everything is meaningful, whether you lose a game to weather or win straight up. We just want to get on the field and compete," Hermanek said. "The competitor in you says, 'Dang-it I wish I had that last inning-and-a-half to finish it,' but right now it is what it is and we'll take it."
-- Bobcats catcher Jordan Paden did not play on Saturday. The senior left in the second game of Ohio's Friday doubleheader with Central Michigan after being hit in the hand by a pitch. Freshman Alexandria Basquez, a third baseman by trade, filled in on Friday and Saturday for the senior.
In the top of the fifth, she threw out EMU leadoff hitter Jessica Richards as she attempted to steal second. It was the first time Richards, who leads the Eagles with 15 swipes, has been caught stealing all season.
-- Hermanek had no time table for Paden's return. Gellerman also has experience behind the plate but is still recovering from a lower body injury and likely wouldn't be ready to step-in behind the plate.
-- Hermanek wouldn't tip her hat as to her Sunday starter, but the guess here is Wethington. Lefty Melissa Bonner went six scoreless innings on Friday before surrendering a three-run lead in the top of the seventh in an eventual 4-3 loss. But, Wethington did struggle mightily in the washed-out sixth inning and the coach said she was prepared to bring in Bonner if play had not been stopped.
-- Sunday is Senior Day at the Ohio Softball Field. The squads five seniors -- Bonner, third baseman Sara Clark, Kemezis, Paden and Wethington -- will be honored. The start has been pushed back to 1:30 p.m.
Twitter: @ThePostSports, @bart_logan