The Ohio State softball team (3-1) will take on No. 1 Florida State (5-0), No. 8 LSU (7-0), Utah (4-1) and Notre Dame (2-2) in Clearwater, Florida, in the ESPN Elite Invitational on Friday after winning three of four games at the Friends of Jaclyn tournament this past weekend.
In the first four games, senior catcher Emily Clark was a leader for the Ohio State offense, recording five hits in 13 at-bats with a team-leading two home runs. She also drove in seven of the team’s 15 RBI during the tournament.
After outscoring opponents 14-2 in the first three games of the tournament, Clark said the offense adjusted well in its first games of the season.
“In Week 1, we expect timing to be a little off. But I thought that we adjusted well, and our coaches gave us tips. We took those tips and ran with it,” Clark said. “The biggest thing that we need to improve on is executing.”
The Ohio State pitching staff was consistent against George Mason, Ole Miss, North Florida and UCF, allowing three earned runs in 27 innings pitched.
“Our pitchers were ready,” head coach Kelly Kovach Schoenly said. “We had a highlight performance from Kat Duvall, who is a senior. Emily also had a tremendous weekend.”
Schoenly said even with the success in the first four games, Ohio State can improve. But she said it was the start of a team camaraderie that she hopes can continue into the ESPN Elite Invitational.
The upcoming four opponents are all substantially strong, especially reigning national champion Florida State, which Clark described as the toughest team they will face.
“This will be the toughest tournament of the country. Every team that down there is fantastic,” Schoenly said.
Schoenly said she feels that this tournament is similar to the postseason because each team the Buckeyes will face seems poised to make playoff runs
Schoenly said each team will bring new challenges for the Buckeyes to face. Florida State returned its ace, Meghan King, who “throws extremely hard” with “lots of movement” on her pitches. She described LSU has having an explosive, offensive lineup, while Notre Dame has a standout pitching staff.
With the amount of talent that Ohio State will face, Schoenly said it will prove to be a good opportunity to see where her team is at compared with nationally-recognized talent.
“It’s really going to be exciting for our kids. They want to play against the best. That gives them the opportunity,” Schoenly said.
Ohio State will face Florida State at 9:30 a.m. Friday. It will then play LSU at 10 a.m. and Utah at 1:00 p.m. Saturday and finish the series against Notre Dame at 10 a.m. Sunday.