‘We’re super pumped up’ — Miami softball earns 4th straight NCAA Tournament appearance

RedHawks face Virginia in first-round game on Friday

OXFORD — The Miami softball team knows what lies ahead on its postseason slate.

The RedHawks, ranked No. 21 according to Softball America, won their third straight Mid-American Conference Tournament to clinch their fourth NCAA Tournament bid in a row. It marks Miami’s eighth appearance overall.

The RedHawks (48-7) are headed to Knoxville, Tenn., as the third seed in the four-team regional and will face Virginia (32-18) at noon on Friday.

“We came in on a big high after winning the MAC, and it was super exciting,” said senior Karli Spaid, the nation’s leader in home runs with 36. “Having your name called every single time is super special. There wasn’t as much nerves obviously because we knew we were going to be called, it was just when.

“You feel those butterflies for sure. Once you hear it, it’s some relief, and then we’re super pumped up.”

Miami also joins Tennessee (40-10), the No. 3 seed nationally, and Dayton (33-19) in the regional. Those two teams meet at 2:30 p.m. Friday.

“I feel like the MAC Tournament gets us ready. It’s the postseason,” graduate student Holly Blaska said. “It’s like a fighting for your season kind of thing. Winning that, it really fired us up. It’s showing us what we’re capable of doing and just using that momentum into the Nashville regional.”

Here’s how the RedHawks won the MAC Tournament:

Miami 5, Toledo 4

Three rain delays and nine hours later, Miami came back to beat Toledo 5-4 in its MAC Tournament opener in walk-off fashion with a sac fly from Sami Bewick on Thursday at Akron’s Firestone Stadium.

The RedHawks fell behind 2-0 before exiting the field for a four-and-a-half-hour rain delay.

On an error in the top of the fourth with the rain still falling hard, another pair of runs crossed the plate for the Rockets to make it 4-0. A second rain delay lasted just 15 minutes before Miami scored five straight runs to complete the comeback.

A foul sac fly from Hadley Parisien in the bottom of the fourth scored Bewick to cut the deficit to 4-1. But the game went to its third rain delay at the end of the fourth.

“It was difficult for sure,” Spaid said of the numerous stoppages in play. “We’ve never really experienced anything like that, especially three in one game, which is crazy. Just finding ways to stay pumped up and stay focused and stay on task for what we needed to get done.”

Play resumed over an hour later, and Bewick blasted a two-run homer to cut the deficit to 4-3.

Spaid tied the game 4-4 in the bottom of the seventh with a solo homer over the right field fence, and Bewick hit a sac fly to score the tagging Jenna Golembiewski from third to walk it off for the RedHawks.

Miami 3, Ohio 1

Madilyn Reeves had a stellar performance in the circle to propel the RedHawks to a 3-1 victory over Ohio on Friday afternoon.

The Bobcats got the first run on the board in the top of the first on a sac fly. Spaid fixed that in the bottom half by hitting a two-run homer to give the RedHawks a 2-1 lead. It was Spaid’s 36th home run of the season, which is one away from tying the single season home run record of 37.

An RBI single from Allie Cummins later that inning scored Golembiewski to up the lead to 3-1 and eventually set a new single-season school record for Miami with its 47th win.

Miami 8, Ball State 0

Miami shut out Ball State 8-0 on Saturday afternoon to take their third-straight MAC Tournament Championship and punch the RedHawks’ ticket to the NCAA Tournament.

The first two innings were scoreless before a lightning delay halted the game in the middle of the third.

An RBI single from Spaid, shortly after play resumed in the bottom of the third, scored Kate Kobayashi and got the RedHawks out in front.

Golembiewski followed that up with an RBI single of her own to make it a 2-0 Miami lead. Chloe Parks had an RBI with a bases-loaded walk, and Reagan Bartholomew’s sac fly scored Cummins to put the RedHawks up 4-0.

Blaska blasted a three-run homer to in the bottom of the fourth.

“Our team came out from the delay all pumped up and ready to go,” Blaska said. “We believed that we were capable of doing what we did. My plan was to hit the ball hard. It kind of was a dagger, and it added a lot to our momentum.”

Bartholomew walked it off in the bottom of the fifth with a solo homer to give the RedHawks the 8-0 championship win in five innings.

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