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Miami’s murderer’s row; Karli Spaid’s homer against nation’s best christens $48 million stadium

Karli Spaid hit the first home run ever in college softball's most extravagant stadium
Karli Spaid hit the first home run ever in college softball's most extravagant stadium

The Miami University RedHawks softball team was in Norman, Oklahoma, on March 1 playing the three-time reigning national champion University of Oklahoma Sooners, who rode into the game on a 67-game winning streak. 

The contest between the RedHawks and the No. 1 Sooners was the first game ever played at Oklahoma’s brand-new, $48 million dollar softball stadium, Love Field. Some are calling it the crown jewel of college softball. The RedHawks had the honor of participating in its grand opening.

To start the game, graduate student catcher Allie Cummins walked to first. Junior left fielder Jenna Golembiewski struck out and headed back to the dugout, slowing down for a quick word with the on-deck batter, Karli Spaid. Then up to the plate walked one of the best players in Miami softball history.

Spaid hammered the first pitch she saw. Three seconds later, the ball landed in the right-center field bleachers, the first home run ever in softball’s new Taj Mahal. 

“I don’t think my mouth closed the entire time I was running the bases,” Spaid said.

If anyone ever hits you with that trivia question, don’t say The Miami Student didn’t tell you.

Six innings later, the RedHawks entered the game’s final frame down 7-3. Junior second baseman Chloe Parks singled, and Cummins hit a two-run homer, a pitch later to cut the Sooner lead to two. Golembiewski, the next batter, homered. Then Spaid hit the RedHawks’ third in a row. Tie game.

That’s all the RedHawks could muster in the top of the frame. Once Oklahoma’s turn came around, the Sooners walked it off before Miami even recorded an out. It was a strong effort for the RedHawks looking to snap the champs’ nearly-70-game winning streak. They came up just short. 

“They never faltered,” head coach Kirin Kumar said. “In the end, they just beat us. We played our hearts out. Even down going into the seventh inning, we got the first runner on base, and we kept going. If they can play like that every game, it’s going to be very hard to beat us.”

Two days later, after three more wins, the Sooners finally did lose to the University of Louisiana at Lafayette, whom the RedHawks beat three hours after facing Oklahoma

The RedHawks hit five home runs in their game against the country’s top team. It’s been the main story of their season so far. They’re by far the most powerful team in college softball this season, averaging close to three home runs per game, by far the most in the sport.

Spaid and Golembewski combined for three against Oklahoma. At this point in the season, the two star players lead the nation in home runs with 19 for Spaid and 18 for Golembiewski in 25 games. McKayla Timmons of Ball State University sits at third with 15. Jayda Kearney of the University of Georgia and Sydney Groves of Boise State University are tied for fourth with 12. 

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“I don’t think it’s something that either of us really thinks about,” Golembiewski said. “We just go up there and want to do our best no matter who’s in front of us or behind us.”

Ever since Kumar was hired as the head softball coach before the 2021 season, the RedHawks have been a powerhouse in the Mid-American Conference (MAC), going 81-15 in the conference over those three years. She’s won every MAC regular season title and MAC tournament title possible since she’s led the RedHawks. 

Despite their success, Miami has not yet been able to get past the regional round of the NCAA tournament. This year, their sights are set higher.

“There is no ceiling,” Spaid said. “Period. We want to make it further than we ever have. No limit.”

Golembiewski reiterated this point.

“We want to do something Miami softball has never done,” Golembiewski said. “There’s no ceiling.”