Courtesy of OSU
Michigan might be Kelly Kovach Schoenly’s alma mater, but the Ohio State softball coach isn’t pulling punches this weekend.
“All I can say is I root for my team,” Schoenly said. “We will work hard as a unit to get a win for Ohio State. I worry about us.”
For the first time as coach of the Buckeyes, Schoenly will face a place she once called home. While she was a star pitcher from 1991 to 1995 for Michigan under current coach Carol Hutchins, she insists her loyalties lie with the Scarlet and Gray as they stand to face the Wolverines in Ann Arbor, Mich.
“If you went to Ohio State and you’re not fired up to play Michigan, then you’re crazy,” Schoenly said. “We’re fired up about it.”
No. 12 Michigan has been one of the best softball programs in the Big Ten and has been a national powerhouse since Hutchins took over in 1985. The Wolverines are the five-time defending Big Ten champions.
And they haven’t lost to OSU since 2011. But the Buckeyes (21-11, 3-3), despite their underdog status, aren’t backing down. Buoyed by the confidence of three victories against ranked teams already this season, Schoenly and the Buckeyes are ready for the challenges Michigan presents, both offensively and defensively.
“The challenges of the preseason have helped (us) tremendously,” Schoenly said. “We’ve seen quality hitters for the last two months and I think they won’t be intimidated by that.”
And OSU freshman left fielder Cammi Prantl attested to the team’s belief that it has an extra incentive to win this weekend.
“It’s Michigan,” Prantl said. “You always want to beat Michigan.”
The desire to compile conference wins in Big Ten play is equally important for OSU. “We haven’t won against (Michigan) for the last two years,” said senior outfielder Alyson Mott. “There’s a little bit more incentive because it’s Michigan, but we have to not pump ourselves up too much and take it like just any other regular game.”
After dropping two games last weekend against Purdue, OSU is looking to get back on the winning track as Big Ten play nears the halfway point.
OSU begins the three-game series with the Wolverines Friday at 6 p.m. in Ann Arbor, Mich.