The Ohio State softball team (8-4) will play 12 games in the next 10 days, starting its longest trip of the season on Friday.
The Buckeyes will travel to Seattle from March 8-10 for the Husky Classic to take on Seattle University (11-7) twice, No. 6 Washington (16-3), Idaho State (6-9) and NIU (8-7).
“We are excited for the Husky Classic and the 12 games we have over the upcoming spring break,” senior pitcher Morgan Ray said. “A lot of our teammates have never been to the Northwest, and I am excited for them to experience it.”
Ohio State has experience against three of the four teams it will face in the Husky Classic, losing 10 of 12 games against Washington, while winning nine of 11 matchups against NIU. The Buckeyes have only played Idaho State once and will be playing Seattle University for the first time.
No matter the experience against each team, Ohio State head coach Kelly Kovach Schoenly said each opponent will be competitive and well coached.
But the Huskies prove to be a major challenge for Ohio State.
As a top five team, Washington made it to the national championship game in 2018. Junior infielder Taryn Atlee has been the main offensive threat for the Huskies, hitting .387 with 24 hits, seven runs and five RBIs.
Schoenly said Ohio State needs to focus on its own ability instead of focusing on the ability of Washington.
“Our job is just to play to the best of our ability,” Schoenly said. “Pitching sets the tone for the game, and then we will need timely hitting.”
In Ohio State’s first-ever matchup with Seattle University, the Redhawks will depend on its timely hitting from two outfielders: sophomore outfielder Ally Choate and freshman outfielder Olivia Viggiano, who each own a batting average above .400.
On the other hand, Idaho State has struggled with its offense at times this season, playing in five games in which the Bengals have scored two runs of less, all of which they have lost.
Ohio State will have to face NIU senior outfielder Jenny Van Geertry in the final game of the Husky Classic. This season, she has recorded five of the team’s 10 home runs and leads NIU with a .372 average.
Ray said the Buckeyes have respect for each team they play, approaching each game the same: focusing on what Ohio State needs to do to win.
In the midweek two-game series, Ohio State will take on a Portland State team that will be playing its first two home games of the season. Despite a 4.23 team ERA, the Buckeyes have the opportunity to face junior pitcher Katie Schroeder, who leads the team with a 3.33 ERA and has five complete games in 10 appearances.
Ohio State will then travel to Phoenix to participate in the GCU Invitational against Weber State (4-9), Lehigh (5-2) and Grand Canyon University (12-9) from March 15-17.
Schoenly said this stretch of games will give her team the opportunity to concentrate on softball and team building.
“We play 12 games on this trip before we come back, so it’s an opportunity to learn about our team identity and compete against some top teams,” Schoenly said.
In the Husky Classic, Ohio State will first take on Seattle at 2:15 p.m. and Washington at 6:45 p.m. on Friday. On Saturday, Ohio State will take on Seattle again at 12 p.m. and Idaho State at 4:30 p.m. and will finish the series against NIU at 1 p.m. on Sunday.