AKRON — One day after a walk-off win, the only drama the Bobcats faced on Thursday was when the inevitable delay would arrive.
Lightning, and then a little rain, rolled over Firestone Stadium in the bottom of the fourth inning and resulted in an hour-long delay. But by then the Bobcats had already largely secured a 7-1 win over Toledo in a winner’s bracket semifinal of the 2019 MAC Softball Tournament.
Ohio (33-19), the tourney’s third seed, advance to the winner’s bracket final in the championship. The Bobcats will face No. 1 seed Miami (35-14) in a 3:30 p.m. start on Friday back at Firestone Stadium.
Toledo (24-26), with the loss, was shuffled off to the loser’s bracket where it will have to take a longer road in order to get to the championship round.
MacKenzie Brunswick had two hits and three RBI to lead Ohio, which broke out for four first-inning runs and never looked back. Charlee Pond, the game-winning hero on Wednesday, added two hits and two RBI, and Katie Yun — hitting .408 coming in — added two hits and a pair of runs scored.
Ohio pitcher Madi McCrady (22-11) had some control issues, with four walks, but turned in another dominating performance. McCrady worked all seven innings, gave up one run, four hits, and struck out six. She’s pitched all 15 innings in the tournament for Ohio.
Toledo starter Heather Webb (2-5) took the loss after failing to get out of the first inning.
Ohio scored four times in the first after Webb issued three-straight walks, the last coming with the bases loaded to Natalie Alvarez. Pond followed with a bouncing-ball single up the middle to make it 2-0, and then Brunswick ripped a two-run single down the left-field line to make it 4-0.
The Bobcats added two more runs in the second, against reliever Erin Hunt, to make it 6-0. With the bases loaded again, Pond notched her second consecutive RBI single. Brunswick followed, and was hit by a pitch to push across another run.
All the early offense was more than enough for McCrady, who worked around three walks and a hit batter in the first three innings. The Rockets avoided the shutout in the top of the fourth when Samantha Golden drilled a solo home run to left, but would get no closer than 6-1.
Ohio, the 2018 MAC Tournament Champion, now sits two wins away from another title. To get there, the Bobcats will first have to solve Miami.
The RedHawks won both regular-season meetings between the clubs — in blowout fashion by 9-0 and 6-1 counts — in Athens.
With a win on Friday, Ohio would earn a spot in the championship round, which is set to begin at 1 p.m. on Saturday. A loss against the RedHawks would send the ‘Cats to the loser’s bracket — and a potential elimination game — on Saturday at 10:30 a.m.
Ohio 7, Toledo 1
Toledo — Heather Webb, Erin Hunt, Kailey Minarchick and Kaitlyn Bergman.
Ohio — Madi McCrady and Natalie Alvarez.
WP — McCrady (22-11); LP Webb (2-5).
2019 MAC Softball Tournament
All games at Firestone Stadium, Akron
Wednesday, May 8
Game 1: Central Michigan 6, Northern Illinois 5
Game 2: Miami 2, Western Michigan 0
Game 3: Toledo 4, Kent State 2
Game 4: Ohio 3, Ball State 2 (8 innings)
Thursday, May 9
Game 5: Northern Illinois 8, Western Michigan 0 (WMU eliminated)
Game 6: Miami 7, Central Michigan 0
Game 7: Ohio 7, Toledo 1
Game 8: No. 2 Kent State (25-23) vs. No. 6 Ball State (34-19), late
Friday, May 10
Game 9: No. 7 Toledo (23-26) vs. No. 4 NIU (27-24), 10:30 a.m.
Game 10: No. 5 CMU (22-26-1) vs. KSU/BSU winner, 1 p.m.
Game 11: No. 1 Miami (35-14) vs. No. 3 Ohio (33-19), 3:30 p.m.
Game 12: Game 9 winner vs. Game 10 winner, 6 p.m.
Saturday, May 11
Game 13: Game 11 loser vs. Game 12 winner, 10:30 a.m.
Game 14 (Championship round): Game 11 winner vs. Game 13 winner, 1 p.m.
Game 15 (if necessary): Game 14 loser vs. Game 14 winner, 3:30 p.m.