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Softball: Trip to California to be homecoming for a third of Ohio State’s roster

The Buckeyes gather on the mound during a timeout in their 4-1 victory over Wright State on Sep. 24. Credit: Gretchen Rudolph | For The Lantern

The Ohio State softball team will spend its spring break and then some in California, taking on eight teams across 10 days. It will include 11 games as part of the Louisville Slugger Invitational and the Easton Invitational.

One of the opponents includes No. 5 Oklahoma, a team head coach Kelly Kovach Schoenly talked about before the season had even started. She called the Sooners one of the most challenging teams the Buckeyes will face all year.

But the Buckeyes aren’t interested in analyzing their opponents as much as they are focusing on their own game and what they can control.

“Right now we’re just focused on ourselves, not necessarily who we’re playing,” senior outfielder Bailee Sturgeon said. “Our coaches keep telling us, ‘Have confidence in yourselves because when you guys play, you guys are unstoppable,’ so I think that right now we’re just our own biggest opponents and as long as we play Buckeye softball I think we’ll be good.”

One team to watch in the Louisville Slugger series will be No. 3 UCLA. The Bruins are undefeated with 19 wins.

The Buckeyes also will take on San Diego State, San Jose State, Cal State Fullerton, Loyola Marymount, California State University Northridge and Grand Canyon.

Rested and ready to go

Playing so many games in such a short timespan can take a physical toll, from soreness to exhaustion. But the team’s trainers and coaches have made an effort to be sure that the team is taken care of.

“Luckily this year we have an awesome staff with coach Claire and Kelsey, our athletic trainer, who recognize when we’re getting fatigued,” Sturgeon said. “After the games we’re doing a lot of recovery, more than we usually do.”

Having a weekend of not playing games also has been a big help for the team, giving it a chance to rest up and recharge.

“It gives our bodies a rest from the travel constantly on airplanes, in buses, constantly standing and doing games all weekend,” sophomore shortstop Amy Balich said. “But we got the chance to work on some things that we needed to get sharpened up and I think we’ll go to California with fresh new minds and it will be good.”

Homecoming

Heading to California will be a homecoming of sorts for eight of the 24 Buckeyes on the roster who claim the Golden State as their home.

For some, this will be an opportunity for friends and family to watch them play in scarlet and gray.

“Oh, I think it’s going to be so fun,” said sophomore infielder Carley Gaskill, a native of West Hills, California. “Coming out [to Columbus], I don’t get to see my friends, they don’t get to see me play and my parents don’t always get to come because I have three other siblings so they’re always with them.”

Let the Games Begin

The Buckeyes begin the series Friday against San Diego State and will play Oklahoma on March 18 to end the 11-game stretch.

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