Tim Kubick / For The Lantern
Despite suffering through a weekend sweep in Madison against the Wisconsin Badgers, the Ohio State softball team (27-17, 6-9) remains optimistic and determined as the season enters the home-stretch.
Sitting in eighth place in the Big Ten standings, OSU is set to take on Michigan State in a Wednesday double-header. The games present the Buckeyes with an opportunity to move up in the standings and solidify their role in the Big Ten Softball Tournament.
The tournament will be held in Lincoln, Neb., in May with the winner getting a guaranteed spot in the NCAA Tournament, which crowns its champion in June.
“Right now, we’re just looking at tomorrow and beating Michigan State,” junior first baseman Evelyn Carrillo said. “That’s our goal right now. Just taking it one day at a time, and focusing on how to get better one day at a time and one practice at a time as well.”
Junior catcher Melissa Rennie said she was proud of OSU for sticking together as a team despite a disappointing series against Wisconsin. She praised the Buckeyes energy all weekend, and said if they continue to play hard the wins will come.
Michigan State sits at 7-4 in conference play, and poses challenges both offensively and defensively for Ohio State.
“(Senior outfielder) Kylene Hopkins is a very good hitter,” Rennie said. “She’s very consistent, so we have to try and keep her off the base path as much as we can. We have to worry about us and stick to our game plan and I think we’ll be fine.”
Sophomore Alex DiDomenico and redshirt junior Melanie Nichols are the pitching duo responsible for keeping Hopkins at bay, as they are scheduled to start games one and two, respectively.
“Alex does best when she gets ahead in the count,” first-year coach Kelly Kovach Schoenly said. “She has the ability to beat hitters when she’s hitting the corners and letting them swing at balls she’s choosing them to swing at.”
Schoenly added Nichols has been OSU’s strongest pitcher in conference play, and is coming in to her own as the season progresses.
On the hitting front, the Buckeyes will look to freshman left fielder Cammi Prantl to carry the offense. She’s in the midst of a 10-game hitting streak pushing her team-leading average to .365.
“(Prantl) has been amazing,” Schoenly said. “She’s really stepped up and been very comfortable with the pressure we’ve put on her … she’s been great.”
Game one between OSU and Michigan State begins at 4 p.m. at Buckeye Field in Columbus. Game two is tentatively scheduled for 6 p.m., but will take place 20 minutes after the conclusion of game one.