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Miami Softball set to make another postseason push with weeks left in the regular season

With just over two weeks left in the regular season, Miami finds itself at a great spot for a postseason push
With just over two weeks left in the regular season, Miami finds itself at a great spot for a postseason push

Just over two weeks remain for the 2024 softball season, and the Miami University RedHawks find themselves at a great spot. With a 29-6 (11-0) record, the RedHawks dominate the Mid-American Conference (MAC), sitting at first over the University of Toledo Rockets (19-16, 10-5 in the MAC). 

With 12 games left, it is important to review the season that has been characterized by broken records, national dominance and unbelievable scorecards. 

The 2023 RedHawks claimed a MAC Championship after going 39-20 (21-8) in the regular season. They made an appearance in the NCAA Regionals, where they won two games but were ultimately eliminated. 

In the offseason, head coach Kirin Kumar focused on getting the incoming players, including seven first-years and two transfers, accustomed to Miami. 

“It took a little bit [of time],” Kumar said. “I think it’s the first time since my first year that there was a big group [of new players].”

One thing the team did to meet one another is a team-bonding experience at a cabin. There, the players learned leadership skills through physical and mental activities. According to Kumar, the plan was to let the players have fun, but also give them a difficult challenge to overcome together.

“It was a lot of fun, but also it was very tough,” Kumar said. “It’s very mentally and physically challenging. It shows them that if they can get through that with each other, they can get through anything.”

For senior infielder Karli Spaid, the RedHawks strived to build up their culture early in the offseason. With nine first-years and two transfers, the team needed everyone on board with the program. 

“We did what we normally did practice-wise, but this year, [we] really emphasized our culture.” Spaid said. “Like making sure everybody was on the same page. Playing Miami softball was a big emphasis this offseason.”

When the season opened on Feb. 9, the RedHawks gave an idea of what fans could expect with a 12-0 win over University of Evansville. 10 RedHawks scored, with two players scoring two runs. 

So far, the RedHawks have scored 10 or more points in 19 games. They average 9.39 runs a game, the most in all of college softball. 

Part of the team’s success is the combined force of Spaid and junior outfielder Jenna Golembiewski. Golembiewski and Spaid hold the nation’s number 1 and number 2 spots for most homeruns this season at 24 and 23 respectively. 

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Golembiewski’s sights are set beyond national dominance or high-scoring games. The RedHawks have dominated the MAC since Kumar became head coach in 2021, but they have been unable to make it past the NCAA Regional Round every year. 

“I think every year we try to do something that Miami softball has never done before,” Golembiewski said. “Going off of last year and into this year, we know that we can make it farther.”

For the remainder of the season, Miami faces just one non-conference opponent in the Eastern Kentucky University Colonels (32-5). They will face four MAC opponents, including the No. 2 Rockets.

The RedHawks have a tough schedule, but that doesn’t change the team’s outlook. For Spaid, each game is a must-win for them.

“We don’t let up no matter who the opponent is,” Spaid said. “We don’t play up or down, we just play our game.”

Going into the season, Kumar wanted to improve the team’s success against tough non-conference opponents. In 2023, the team found success in the MAC, but struggled against nationally-ranked teams, such as the Oklahoma University Sooners, who won the 2023 NCAA tournament.

Kumar’s approach this season was playing through to the end and putting up a good effort regardless of who they were playing.

“Last year, we struggled against some of the better teams,” Kumar said. “I think that’s something that we really, really improved on: not only beating the teams that we’re supposed to, but also beating teams that on paper we’re not. If we didn’t beat them, we competed all the way to the end.”

No matter who they play, the RedHawks believe their toughest opponent is themselves. Kumar says the team’s success relies on only themselves. 

“We never look at who we’re playing,” Kumar said. “If we play our game and do what we’re supposed to do, then they don’t have a chance. The only time they have a chance is if we don’t play our game.”

The RedHawks face their next opponent, the Central Michigan University Chippewas, on April 20. As the season gets closer to the end, the RedHawks have set themselves up for a deep postseason push.