Bobcats split double-header with Kentucky

Photo by Becca Zook

As the shadows crept across the third base line and the sun threatened to draw level with the stands, only one thing was being whispered about in the stands: Was Savannah Jo Dorsey really going to try and pitch back-to-back games against No. 12 Kentucky, one of the nation’s best offensive teams?

And as Dorsey stood in the circle, looking imperious as she brought her throwing arm up to shade against the falling sun, there was no fatigue, no anger after giving up a three-run homer in the first inning in the backend of the doubleheader. Only quiet determination remained Tuesday as Dorsey, who recorded a one-hitter in the first game, led Ohio to a 1-1 series against the Wildcats, recording 15 strikeouts and three runs in 13 innings in a 1-0 win and a 3-0 loss.

Her first eight innings received the perfect ending, as Deanna Cole’s hit a walk-off single straight back to the pitcher that brought home Michaela Dorsey and gave Ohio a 1-0 extra innings win.

“For some reason, I knew when the song “Fat Bottom Girls” played, I knew we were going to win the game,” Savannah Jo Dorsey said of the first game, a 1-0 win. “I was just waiting on it. Then every time we came back to the dugout we were like, ‘OK, it has to be a walk-off.’ … We knew we were all just waiting for it.”

Cole was ecstatic after the game, saying that slappers don’t usually get to come to the plate and get a hit to earn the win. She still emphasized that it was a team win above all.

“I was more happy for them (her team) being happy than anything,” she said.

After an elongated first game, many expected to see Danielle Stiene in the circle for the beginning of the second game. After Dorsey had just pitched eight innings, allowing one hit and recording 11 strikeouts, many expected her night to be over.

But coach Jodi Hermanek opted to leave her star ace in the game and was met with a walk, a single and a three-run homer in the first few at-bats to start off the first inning. Dorsey stayed in through the brunt of it, getting out of multiple bases-loaded situations in the third inning and prompting whispers of fatigue throughout the stands.

“If we need her to go Game One and come back Game Two on a doubleheader dip, we now just saw her do it,” Hermanek said.

But the Wildcats didn’t score outside of the first inning, yet rolled to a 3-0 victory in the second game.

It might have been helped if Ohio’s offense could get anything going, but with Kentucky’s aces Kelsey Nunley (0.69 ERA, 13-3 ) and Meagan Prince (1.23, 14-0) in the circle for the Wildcats, it seemed a lost cause. Despite a solo homer by Mikayla Cooper in the bottom of the seventh of the second game, the offense got very little going Tuesday.

The fact that the Bobcats were able to unsettle Nunley in the first game, recording four hits and keeping the game in contention until Cole’s final hit, was a testament to the fact that they keep fighting through pressure until they succeed.

“We just get so fired up and you can tell,” Cole said. “As we are hitting shots, whether they are right to her or they get through the gap, it doesn’t matter because we know we are on top of it. All the way through.”

Cole will draw the compliments from fans for her walk-off single, but Dorsey will receive many plaudits as well.

Despite a shaky second game, Dorsey will take solace in the fact that she threw a one-hitter against one of the best teams in the nation, a team that knocked her team out of the NCAA Tournament in 2014 and smashed the Bobcats in Lexington a year ago.

“We played our Regional against them our sophomore year, and we lost,” Dorsey said. “We played against them last year, and we lost. And it feels really good to come back at them. I’m glad that I got to do that before I graduate.”

With Dorsey in the circle, Ohio has a good chance of running the MAC East division and competing for a second MAC regular-season crown since Dorsey has been in Athens. And with the bulk of Ohio’s conference schedule in front of it — the Bobcats resume MAC play against Ball State on April 1 — Dorsey may have credence for her displeasure at not being picked to win the postseason tournament.

Until then, sit back and watch her continue to dazzle for the Bobcats.

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