ATHENS, Ohio –The Ohio softball team (6-3) returns to action this weekend when they head to Carbondale, Ill. Friday, Feb. 22- Sunday, Feb. 24 where they will take on host Southern Illinois and Evansville.
The Bobcats will take on Southern Illinois on Friday, February 22 at 3:30 p.m. ET and Evansville at 5:30 p.m. ET. Play will continue for Ohio on Sunday when the Bobcats wrap up play with Southern Illinois at 3:30 p.m. ET.
Due to historic rainfall in Chattanooga, Tenn., the Ohio softball team was unable to play at the 2019 Frost Classic. The team was able to move the weekend to Carbondale, Ill. to play three games this weekend.
Both teams the Bobcats play this weekend were going to be opponents at the Frost Classic.
SCOUTING SOUTHERN ILLINOIS
So far this season, the Salukis are 7-2 overall with a winning streak of seven games. They opened their 2019 season on Friday, February 8 at the Lion Classic in Hammond, Louisiana. From there, they traveled to Puerto Vallarta, Mexico to compete in the Puerto Vallarta Challenge. There, Southern Illinois swept the weekend. Collectively, the Salukis have a .298 batting average, have scored 57 runs and hit 47 RBIs.
Currently leading the team with a .423 batting average is freshman Ashley Wood. Wood has started in all 9 games this season, scored seven times, hit one homerun and seven RBIs. Her slugging percentage is .692. Junior Katelyn Massa isn't far behind Wood with a .417 batting average, three doubles, two homeruns, 10 RBIs and a .762 slugging percentage.
In the circle for the Salukis is senior Brianna Jones. Jones currently has a 1.25 ERA, the lowest among the team's pitchers, and six wins under her belt. In 33.2 innings pitched, she's struck out 34 batters, given up three extra-base hits and pitched three complete games.
The Purple Aces are currently 5-4 on the season, winning their last five games. They opened their 2019 season on Friday, February 8 in Rosemont, Illinois at the Total Control Sports Invitational, where they went 1-4. The following weekend, Evansville traveled to Central, Louisiana, where they defeated Southern University four times. As a team, their batting average is .276, they've hit 29 RBIs and scored 34 runs.
Junior Kate McLean currently leads the team with a .464 batting average. In nine starts and 28 at bats, McLean has scored five times, hit four RBIs and three doubles. With six walks, she holds a .559 on-base percentage. Right behind her is sophomore Mea Adams with a .364 batting average.
In the circle for the Purple Aces is freshman Izzy Vetter. In seven appearances and three starts, Vetter holds a 2.73 ERA, two wins and 26.1 innings pitched. Returning to the circle is senior Emily Lockhart. With 16 innings pitched, Lockhart has a 4.50 ERA, two wins and one shutout under her belt so far this season.
The Bobcats are 6-3 overall after the second weekend of action.
Offensively, the Bobcats are hitting .306 as a team, scoring a total of 46 runs with 81 hits, 15 doubles, three triples and two homeruns. They've also registered 40 RBI and have a team slugging percentage of .408. The Bobcats also have a .383 on base percentage, while drawing 27 walks.
Individually, sophomore Allie Englant leading the Bobcats, batting .522 with 12 hits in 23 at bats, scoring six runs with one triple and three RBI. Senior Morgan Geno next with a .414 batting average, with 12 hits, two doubles, one homerun and nine RBI, with a .586 slugging percentage. Meanwhile, senior Natalie Alvarez is hitting .369 with 11 hits, three doubles and a .441 on base percentage.
In the circle, the Bobcats have a 3.54 team ERA. In 61.1 innings pitched, the Bobcats have allowed 31 earned runs on 59 hits and have struck out 38 batters, while opponents are hitting .236 against them.
Individually, freshman Mackensie Kohl started her career off strong, with a 3-1 record and one save, while recording a 1.85 ERA in four appearances with four starts and three complete games. She's allowed nine earned runs on 28 hits in 34.0 innings, while striking out 22. Sophomore Madi McCrady is next with a 4.03 ERA in 24.1 innings, allowing 14 runs and striking out 13.
On the first day of the Gamecock Invitational, the Bobcats fell to No. 15 South Carolina 4-2. The game remained scoreless until the bottom of the fifth when the Gamecocks pulled ahead 3-0 before tacking on their fourth and final run in the bottom of the sixth. With two outs in the top of the seventh, Ohio scored two runs before South Carolina recorded the final out of the game.
On Saturday, Ohio held UNC Greensboro until the bitter end, losing 4-3 in the eighth inning. UNCG took the lead after a three-run homerun in the second inning, but the Bobcats quickly answered in the top of the fifth, scoring twice. In the bottom of the sixth, Ohio tied the game and after a scoreless seventh, the game went to extra innings.
The Bobcats swept Sunday, defeating Campbell 4-3 before downing Charlotte 8-6. Against Campbell, the Bobcats took the lead in the bottom of the first. Campbell scored in the second and the game remained 1-1 until the top of the sixth when a two-run homerun pulled Campbell ahead 3-1. After scoring two runs in the bottom of the sixth, Bobcats struck again in the bottom of the seventh, securing the 4-3 victory.
In the second game of the day, Ohio struck first against Charlotte, scoring in the top of the first. Charlotte tied up the game in the bottom of the third. The game remained even until Ohio scored three runs in the top of the fifth inning. After a scoreless bottom of the fifth, the Bobcats struck again, leaving the sixth inning with an 8-1 lead. Charlotte rallied in the seventh, but it wasn't enough to send the game to extra innings.
MAC PLAYER OF THE WEEK
Geno was named to MAC Co-Player of the Week on Tuesday, Feb. 12 for her performance the first weekend of play.
Geno batted .563 with nine hits in 16 at bats, scored two runs, had one double and one homerun. She also recorded seven RBI, had a .813 slugging percentage and a .650 on base percentage. Geno drew three walks and was hit by a pitch, while only striking out twice. Also, in her first weekend at first base, Geno recorded 25 putouts and only one error for a .962 fielding percentage.
THE KENZIE ROARK ERA BEGINS
The 2019 season marks new head coach Kenzie Roark's first season with the Bobcats. Before coming to Ohio, Roark spent four years with South Carolina Upstate as their pitching coach. Under her coaching, the Spartans won two Atlantic Sun Conference Regular Reason Championships and three ASUN Tournament Championships. Multiple of Roark's pitchers were recognized, including two ASUN Pitchers of the Year.
Before Upstate, Roarke was the pitching coach at East Tennessee State from 2012-14 where she helped the Lady Bucs accumulate their most wins since 2010. Roark's career began at Virginia Tech as a student assistant in 2011; this coaching staff was named the 2012 NFCA Mid-Atlantic Region Coaching Staff of the Year.
Before working for the Hokies, Roark played for Virginia Tech. She was named an Atlantic Coast Conference All-Tournament and Player of the Week during her career. As a freshman, she made an appearance in the 2008 College World Series. She ranks second all-time with 155 career appearances and fourth with 510 strikeouts, solidifying Roark as one of Virginia Tech's greatest pitchers of all time.
NEW STAFF FACES
Along with Roark, Ashley Taylor and Garrett Furnel were also added to the Bobcats staff to round out the 2019 coaching staff.
Taylor comes to Ohio after one year as the assistant softball coach at Tennessee Tech., after a successful collegiate career at Austin Peay.
Furnal spent last season at UNC Wilmington. In 2018, UNCW advanced to the CAA tournament for the second consecutive year. The CAA head softball coaches in the conference identified UNCW sophomore Dominique Travers and freshman Emily Langkamp as top athletes in the conference. Langkamp was also named All-Rookie Team after starting all 49 games recording the fewest strikeouts on the team. Two other girls joined the 100-Hit Club and multiple athletes received spots on the North Carolina Collegiate Sports Information Association All-State Second Team.
2018 BOBCAT REWIND
Ohio finished the 2018 season 40-17, 20-3 in-conference, clinching the Mid-American Conference Regular season crown for the first time since 1995 and earning their first ever number one seed in the MAC Tournament. The Bobcats would go on to win the 2018 MAC Tournament crown for the first time since 2014. After downing Northern Illinois 2-0, the Bobcats continued on to the NCAA Tournament Regionals in Knoxville, Tenn. While there, the Bobcats earned their first two NCAA victories, defeating Monmouth and James Madison, helping them advance to the Regional Finals for the first time in program history.
Overall, the team finished with a collective on-base percentage of .365, a .462 slugging percentage and a .283 batting average. The Bobcats scored 304 runs, had 274 RBIs, hit 72 doubles and 57 homeruns, stole 37 bases and had 16 shutouts.
The Bobcats have six returning seniors, including Alex Day and redshirt senior Michaela Dorsey. Day finished the 2018 season with the highest batting average of the returners, .333. In 195 at-bats, she knocked 12 homeruns and 44 RBIs. Dorsey falls not far behind with a .329 batting average, 46 hits, 10 doubles and eight homeruns. Last Season, Day and Dorsey both earned NFCA All-Mideast Region honors, while Day was also named to the All-MAC first team.
Morgan Geno also returns for the Bobcats, last season the designated hitter finished the season hitting .254 with a .571 slugging percentage, nine homeruns and eight doubles. Geno also earned All-MAC second team honors.
Other returners include sophomores Katie Yun, who was named to the MAC All-Freshman Team, Allie Englant, Brooke Rice and Madi McCrady, juniors Desirae Villanueva, Alexa Holland, and Kendall Meeks, and seniors MacKenzie Brunswick, Deanna Cole and Natalie Alvarez.
NEW TO THE SQUAD
Ohio is welcoming five newcomers to the team. Charlee Pond looks to add depth to the Bobcats' infield along with Caroline Spacek. Pond was named the Coastal League's Offensive Player of the Year and named All-State First Team twice while Spacek was named Newcomer of the year in 2014 as well as the Offensive "MVP" the following year. Mackensie Kohl looks to contribute in the circle; she lettered three times and helped lead her team to a Division I Championship in 2016. Taytum Hargrave brings additional speed to the outfield; she led her high school team in both batting average and stolen bases for three years and was named All-Conference three times as well. Justice Ruggles will be contributing in the outfield; she was named All-Conference, All-District, All-Regional and First Team All-State multiple years in a row.
The Bobcats were picked to finish third in the Mid-American Conference preseason poll. Both Ball State, who received six first place votes, and Kent State, who received two first place votes, finished ahead of Ohio in first and second place, respectively. Western Michigan finished fourth.
Up next, the Bobcats travel to Huntington, West Virginia to play Marshall on Wednesday, February 27 at 3 p.m. The following weekend, Ohio heads to Durham, North Carolina to participate in the Duke Invitational. There, they will play Charleston Southern, Mississippi State, Campbell and Duke.