The No. 7 seed Toledo softball team continued its run of upsets with three wins Saturday in Akron to claim the first Mid-American Conference Tournament title in program history and earn an automatic qualifier spot in the NCAA Regionals.
The Rockets took down No. 1 seed Miami and swept No. 3 seed Ohio in a doubleheader May 11 en route to claiming the title. Toledo most recently won the MAC regular-season title in 1992, but this was the first MAC Tournament crown for the program.Toledo is the lowest seed in MAC Tournament history to win the softball title.
“I’m in a state of disbelief that we got it done,” Head Coach Joe Abraham said. “It was a team effort… We have a bunch of battlers. Literally one week ago, we were fighting to get into the tournament. It was such a good feeling to beat Central Michigan and make it in. One week later, here we are the MAC Champions, and I literally can’t believe it.”
Toledo claimed the title in dramatic fashion, rallying from a five-run deficit to defeat Ohio, 6-5, in Saturday’s second game to set up a winner-take-all battle with the Bobcats. That game was no contest, with the Rockets demolishing Ohio, 9-2.
The Rockets began the tournament with a 4-2 win over No. 2 seed Kent State Thursday before falling 7-1 to the Bobcats Friday.
Fighting through the loser’s bracket in the double elimination-style tournament, the Rockets had to defeat each of the top four seeds to come out on top. All together, Toledo outscored the competition 33-14 in its last five games.
The Rockets were led in the circle this week by sophomore Erin Hunt, who tossed 37.1 innings with four complete games, striking out 28 batters over the four days. Her efforts earned her a spot on the All-Tournament Team, and she also was named the Tournament’s Most Valuable Player.
Hunt was joined on the All-Tournament Team by seniors Katie Cozy and Kaitlyn Bergman, who were offense standouts all week. Bergman went 6 for 20 with four runs, six walks, two homers, and seven RBIs while catching every game for the Rockets. Cozy was 5 for 21 with five runs, three RBIs, two homers and four walks.
The Rockets will find out their first-round NCAA Regional opponent Sunday. The NCAA Softball Selection Show will air at 9 p.m. on ESPN2.