Ball State Cardinals (34-18, 9-8 MAC) fell to Ohio University Bobcats (31-19, 12-8 MAC) in eight innings 3-2 at the Firestone Stadium in Akron, Ohio, kicking off the Mid-American Conference softball championship.
The game was tied at a competitive 0-0 into the bottom of the fifth, when Bobcats’ MacKenzie Brunswick hit a left-field home run, making the score 1-0. Not long after in the bottom of the sixth, a sacrifice bunt by Bobcats’ Morgan Geno scored Katie Yun, advancing the score to 2-0.
The Cardinals weren’t done, though. Rallying back in the top of the seventh, Ball State freshman Sarah Venker scored two runs off of a left-field homer, scoring herself and fellow freshman Kim Manuel.
“I know you’re not supposed to watch the ball as you are running around [the bases], but I glanced over my shoulder and was like ‘Oh my gosh, no way I just did that,” Venker said. “It was just surreal honestly, I was so excited and so happy to be able to help my team.”
Score now tied 2-2, the bottom of the seventh was three up, three down for the Bobcats. With that, the game went into extra innings.
The last extra-inning game the Cardinals faced was against Western Michigan April 13. Head Coach Megan Bartlett said extra inning games are good experience for the team.
“It’s going to show them what they are made of and hopefully fuel some fire to keep getting better,” Barlett said. “You cannot replicate championship softball.”
The top of the eighth went without a run for the Cardinals. In the bottom of the inning, Ohio’s Charlee Pond singled down the left field line to score third base runner, Katie Yun, resulting in a 3-2 win for the Bobcats.
“Going forward, I think we really need to capitalize when we get runners on,” Venker said. “We need to put the hurt on a team early and really put that pressure on them so we can win and we can keep advancing.”
Ball State will next play Kent State University 6 p.m. Thursday.