Lantern file photo
After earning an unsatisfying 14-37 record last year, the Ohio State softball team has developed a new, inspirational motto as the 2012 season opens on Friday: “WTF.”
“We’ve thrown that out a lot, with a more politically correct meaning than it usually has,” said coach Linda Kalafatis.
“WTF,” an acronym for “worst to first,” is a catchphrase developed to motivate the team after a 2011 season that Kalafatis described as disappointing.
“Defeat is the greatest motivator,” she said.
The Buckeyes’ troubles began early in the 2011 campaign. Five starters, including Big Ten Freshman of the Year Melanie Nichols, had to be replaced due to season-ending injuries and graduation.
Nichols, a pitcher, underwent surgery on her right shoulder in July 2010. She played in six games the following year but sat out for the remainder of the season per doctors’ orders.
Lindsay Bodeker, an OSU graduate and former pitcher, would have been a redshirt senior last year. Bodeker re-injured her right knee from damage done to her ACL in 2008 and did not return after graduating.
“We were pretty challenged on the mound,” Kalafatis said.
Megan Coletta, junior third baseman and co-captain, said she is looking for redemption this year.
“After last season and everything we went through, we want to prove that just because you have one bad year, you can come back,” she said.
Coletta said she hopes to lead her team by concentrating on the mental aspect of the game.
“(The underclassmen) are fresh. They don’t understand how grueling it’s going to be mentally and physically,” she said. “That’s what the veterans are working on.”
The women of the OSU softball team have set goals of achieving Big Ten and World Series success, and after only one practice this week, they said they are excited to get started.
“The team has been pretty focused,” Kalafatis said. “At times we didn’t look as sharp as we’d like, but the kids are ready to get out and play.”
The Buckeyes finished last in Big Ten standings in 2011 with a record of 3-17, defeating Minnesota twice in a doubleheader in early April and Michigan State in May.
With a “WTF” mentality, OSU will need to rally past every Big Ten opponent including No. 15-ranked Michigan.
The Wolverines finished last season with a 53-6 record on their way to claiming the conference title.
Senior shortstop Alicia Herron said she has her sights set on Michigan for the upcoming season.
“With the way the Big Ten is set up, we play each team three times,” Herron said. “I keep saying ‘MX3,’ you know, Michigan times three. Defeating Michigan would be huge.”
Herron, also a co-captain, led the team offensively with several team bests.
Nine home runs, 10-for-10 stolen bases, 39 runs scored and a .354 batting average in 2011 are just some of her accomplishments.
The Buckeyes begin a long, 23-game stretch on the road on Friday when they travel to Clermont, Fla., to take on the University of Central Florida.
The team will see Las Vegas, Nev., Cathedral City, Calif., Orlando, Fla., and Nashville, Tenn., before returning home to Buckeye Field on March 24.
Herron said she is most looking forward to “going out with a bang” with a team that is short on words, but strong in spirit.
“We are obviously a young team,” Herron said. “We have so many new players, but I think the experience will come once we start playing. The heart and everything is all there.”