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RedHawks grab last spot in MAC Tourney

By Jordan Rinard
On May 5, 2014

Sitting at 11 in the Mid-American Conference standings entering the weekend, the Miami University softball team had little room for error as the RedHawks tried to snag a tournament berth. A 5-3 loss to Eastern Michigan University in the first game of a doubleheader put the 'Hawks (22-16, 9-11 MAC) in a hole. However, Miami won out with a 3-2 victory over the Eagles in nine innings along with 3-2 and 3-0 decisions over Central Michigan University.

The wins gave the RedHawks the eighth and final seed in the tournament over the University of Toledo, who dropped two games during the weekend.

"We put everything together [against CMU on Sunday]," senior second baseman Kristy Arbour said. "Our pitching and our defense was great, and we somehow managed to get three runs on the board. We're proud of how we performed. Doing this on senior day means everything to us."

The doubleheader against Eastern Michigan had an began ominously as the Eagles had a 5-0 lead after scoring two runs in the second inning and three runs in the fourth before Miami responded with a RBI from junior shortstop Kylie McChesney in the bottom of the inning.

The home team continued to fight as sophomore designated hitter Jenna Modic delivered a home run in the sixth and senior first baseman Allie Larrabee recorded an RBI single in the seventh, but that would be last of the scoring for the 'Hawks. Modic also put in quality work in relief as she only allowed three hits in 3 2-3 innings.

The Red and White got on the scoreboard quickly in the second game as junior outfielder Bree Lipscomb connected on an RBI double in the first, but EMU tied the game in the seventh to force extra innings. The away team took the lead in the ninth with an RBI, but senior catcher Kayla Ledbetter took the first pitch in the bottom of the inning out of the park before junior outfielder Taylor Shuey hit a game-winning RBI-double. Sophomore pitcher Amber Logemann had the best game of her career, going nine innings and allowing two earned runs on four hits while striking out a career-high 12 batters.

The RedHawks jumped out in front of Central Michigan in the third with an RBI from Ledbetter while Lipscomb and Larrabee drew walks with the bases loaded to take a 3-0 lead. The Chippewas retaliated in the fourth with a two-run homer, but that was as close as they would get as Modic was lights out in relief, allowing only a hit in 3 innings of work to pick up her fourth save of the season. Senior pitcher Paige Myers put together a quality start, going 4 innings while allowing two earned runs on four hits, three of which came in the fourth inning.

The 'Hawks got the job done in the second game as junior outfielder Tiyona Marshall drilled an RBI-single in the fourth, Larrabee served up a sacrifice fly in the fifth and Ledbetter dished out a RBI-single of her own. The Chips were unable to fire up on offense as the tandem of Myers and Logemann allowed two hits each with the sophomore being the workhorse for five innings.

"This weekend, I've seen resiliency, fight and heart from this team," head coach Clarisa Crowell said. "They laid it all out there. We probably need to go 3-1 at least to have a chance at the tournament. We competed all weekend and did what we needed to do. We never gave up, which we've done all season, and continued to compete. Our pitchers stepped up [against CMU] which was good since with Central Michigan's pitching we couldn't allow five or six runs. There were a lot of emotions for senior day and we handled it well. We have a senior class that's been great for the program and we're all feeling good."

Miami is set to begin play in the MAC Tournament 1:30 p.m. Wednesday against No. 1 seed Ball State University. Earlier in the season, the Red and White had a chance to upset the Cardinals on the road but fell in a 2-1 loss and fell victim to one of the best offenses in the MAC in a five-inning 9-1 defeat.

"Our backs were against the wall this weekend but we pulled it together," Ledbetter said. "It was great to get a win on senior day, but hopefully we'll be able to play a few more games."

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