Courtesy of OSU
After a tough weekend away that saw the Buckeyes lose all three contests to No. 12 Michigan, the Ohio State softball team (23-14, 3-6) looks to continue a two-game win streak from playing against Ohio University this week with a three-game series against Penn State beginning Friday.
OSU needs a series win against the Nittany Lions if it wants to continue to stay in the race for the Big Ten conference championship as conference play nears the halfway point.
“Our major goal is to place in the top (of the conference),” said sophomore pitcher Alex DiDomenico. “We just gotta still keep fighting it out, after the Michigan series I think our team is still focused on what we gotta do, get our program to the top again and keep attacking teams.”
OSU’s process of righting the ship after the Michigan defeats began the following Tuesday when OSU dominated a double header in Athens, Ohio, against the Ohio Bobcats. Winning 4-2 and 6-1, the day was highlighted by DiDomenico’s masterful 17-strikeout effort in the second victory.
“(17 strikeouts) was insane,” said first-year coach Kelly Kovach Schoenly. “(DiDomenico) has that in her, and she had a little bit of a ‘spitfire’ attitude on Tuesday and I really think that she is an emotional player, and when she gets her emotions targeted toward something she really wants, it’s going to happen. I was thrilled for her.”
In preparation for Penn State, the Buckeyes have been focusing on the little things in practice all week. Schoenly emphasized her desire to have the team “outwork” their opponents, and OSU spent a good portion of Thursday’s practice focusing on conditioning.
Schoenly also said she has stressed the importance of hitting in practice as well, especially adjusting to the pitching styles of the Penn State pitchers early in the game instead of waiting until the third at-bat.
This season has been junior first baseman Leesa Gresham’s breakout year as she has helped bolster the Buckeyes’ offense. After playing sparingly as a freshman and sophomore, Gresham has busted out this year, leading the team in home runs (9), RBIs (34) and doubles (11), and third on the team in batting average (.348). She credited her improvement to the new coaching staff, led by Schoenly.
“I haven’t really changed my work ethic from the first two years,” Gresham said. “But I think the big difference is having coaches that actually care and really push you to be the best. They have faith in all of us, which is something we were missing for a while. I think with coaches that have confidence in you, it makes it a lot easier to play, and less stressful.”
OSU and Penn State are scheduled to begin the weekend tilt Friday at Buckeye Field in Columbus at 6 p.m.