Abby Sweet / Lantern Photographer
Sometimes in sports the implementation of a new staff can cause dissent among the returning players, but in the case of the Ohio State softball team, that doesn’t seem to be the case.
In the first week the Buckeyes’ new softball staff got to coach the team, senior infielder and pitcher Danielle LeBeau said she already thinks highly of first-year coach Kelly Schoenly and her assistants.
“I think that it has gone great actually. I think they are really motivating, they get us to want to come out to play, want to come out and practice every day and do the best that we can everyd ay no matter what,” LeBeau said.
The previous staff was headed by Linda Kalafatis for 16 years, who compiled a 538-358 record while coaching in Columbus. Kalafatis’ contract was not renewed for the 2012-2013 season, according to a May 15 press release. In her final season, the Buckeyes record was 31-23 and the team finished eighth in the Big Ten.
Schoenly played college softball at the University of Michigan and graduated in 1995. While there, she was named the Big Ten Pitcher of the Year twice and to the all-conference team three times.
After graduation, she was a graduate assistant for Michigan, and then was an assistant at Penn State for eight years. Her first head-coaching job was with Miami (Ohio), a place she coached for six seasons.
There she led the RedHawks to two Mid-American Conference championships, and NCAA tournament appearances in 2009 and 2012.
Schoenly’s worries, though, are more focused on coaching her players than the transition to a new staff.
“I don’t know a whole lot about before, I just know what I try to stress,” Schoenly said. “I think right now it’s just getting better and understanding the game.”
One thing that Schoenly and her staff try to focus on is starting over and building the fundamentals.
“They really break it down to where we understand it before we are doing it,” said sophomore outfielder Caitlin Conrad.
Schoenly has adopted that attitude but gives credit to her assistant coach Amanda Buchholz, who is also in her first year coaching the team.
“If they know why they are doing and what it’s supposed to look like, it’s a lot easier when it comes down to crunch time. I always feel like it is her philosophy, obviously mine as well, but I’ve embraced it even more working with her as a defensive coach,” Schoenly said.
Buchholz played shortstop at the University of Nebraska from 2000-2003. During that time, she earned first-team All-Big 12 honors and led the Huskers to the 2002 Women’s College World Series.
Her first six years coaching were spent as a volunteer assistant at her alma mater, and in 2010, she was hired to Schoenly’s staff at Miami. She spent three years coaching the pitchers and fielders. She has followed Schoenly to OSU and will take over the same responsibilities.
Buchholz reiterated that the new staff is meshing well with the team.
“They’ve embraced us and we’ve embraced them,” Buchholz said. “They’ve helped us redefine what Buckeye softball’s about.”
Buchholz focuses on the defense for the Buckeyes, but they needed someone to develop the offensive talent.
That’s where Jenna Hall, a NFCA All-American and the record holder for best career and single-season batting averages at her alma mater, the University of Illinois, comes in
Post-graduation, Hall stayed with Illinois as an assistant coach for a year and then was an assistant coach at Ohio University during the last five seasons. Now that she is in Columbus, Hall has high expectations for OSU’s program.
“I think being Ohio State and in the Big Ten, it is our job and hope to be winning softball championships and getting to the postseason,” Hall said. “We believe this program should be there and we have the talent now and hopefully will get there in the future.”
OSU’s fall season begins Saturday at the 2012 Ohio Collegiate Charity Classic. The team is scheduled to face Akron at 11 a.m. at Fred Beekman Park.