Lantern file photo
It’s almost over for four seniors on the Ohio State softball team.
OSU will play its final home series of the season this weekend against Iowa and senior pitcher Mikayla Endicott, senior shortstop Alicia Herron and senior outfielders Katie Simonton and Vanessa Spears, will play their final games at Buckeye Field in scarlet and gray.
The foursome has started a combined 158 games this season and helped the Buckeyes to a 28-20 overall record, including a 10-6 record at home.
Herron has been a consistent starter for OSU since she began her career in 2009. The speech and hearing science major has started 206 games in her four years as a Buckeye and is a career .368 hitter with 47 home runs and 173 RBI
and plans to join the team at the end of the Buckeyes’ season.
She said her experience at OSU has been a great one and feels like her time as a Buckeye went by quickly. She feels lucky to have had such great people surrounding her and said that made it easy for her to succeed.
“It’s been a really great four years. It’s gone by very fast,” Herron said. “I’ve made great friends, I’ve met really great people. I’m just really thankful and grateful I got to be a part of an institution like the Ohio State University.”
Endicott has been the No. 1 pitcher on the staff for OSU this season in her only year as a Buckeye. The transfer from Oregon has started 25 games and compiled a 16-12 record with 165 strikeouts.
Endicott aspires to be a Division I pitching coach some day and will be a part of the OSU team next season as a graduate assistant while she continues working on her degree in sociology.
Although she spent three years as a Duck before joining the team this year, Endicott said she feels as if she’s never played anywhere else.
“My experience here has been great. I feel like I’ve played here all of my years of college,” Endicott said. “The girls and I have a really good relationship. I’ve enjoyed my short period here in Columbus.”
Spears has been a mainstay in left field this season for OSU. She started all 48 games this year, and is hit .309 with a team-high 10 doubles from the second spot in the lineup.
Spears said she hasn’t fully considered what it would be like playing at her last game at Buckeye Field.
“I really haven’t even thought about it,” Spears said with a smile. “It’s not really real until it actually happens, but I’m obviously gonna be sad that it’s over. It’s a good field to go out on, that’s for sure.”
Simonton has made her way back onto the field in 2012 after missing the entire 2011 season with an Achilles tendon injury she suffered during fall practice. The Dublin Scioto graduate has started 39 games in right field for the Buckeyes and hit .295 in her final season.
Simonton, like the other seniors, said she has enjoyed her time at OSU and is sad to see it go. She said being around her teammates and being able to get to know about them and their lives is something that she will always cherish.
“Getting to know a whole different group of girls every year is something you can’t really do anywhere else,” Simonton said. “Getting to meet a whole bunch of different people from different places who have different life experiences is probably what I’ll miss the most.”
Coach Linda Kalafatis said this group of seniors has been through almost everything during their collegiate careers and seen good times and bad.
“They’ve seen some of the best years in Ohio State softball history and maybe one of the worst last year,” Kalafatis said. “They’ve run the gamut and they personally certainly have all been through some real tragedies and some real obstacles and injuries. It’s part of the business.”
Kalafatis described the exit of the seniors and the addition of the incoming freshmen next year as a “rebirth” of sorts. She acknowledged that losing the seniors is part of being a coach, but that it’s still tough to deal with.
“It’s always hard to believe when you get to this point that it will be the last games on these fields for the seniors,” Kalafatis said. “It will be very difficult to see them go.”