Despite dropping four of its five games at the FAU Kickoff Classic, the Ohio State women’s softball team is confident its record is not indicative of its potential.
OSU (1-4, 0-0) is set to continue its early season tournament schedule against Cal State Northridge Friday at the Easton Desert Classic in Las Vegas. The team is also scheduled to play Long Beach State later that day. The Buckeyes are then slated to take on No. 1 Florida and No. 10 Oregon Saturday, as well as Utah Valley Sunday.
Even though facing two top 10 teams in one day is a tall order, coach Kelly Kovach Schoenly said she expects the Buckeyes to rise to the occasion.
“Those kids are pretty pumped up,” Schoenly said Tuesday. “I don’t worry one bit that they’ll be up for those games.”
Junior shortstop/second baseman Maddy McIntyre said the team is focused on Cal State Northridge and then will take it game by game from there.
“We always have the same high level of intensity,” McIntyre said Tuesday. “We take the positives and roll with what we know we’re good at.”
However, one of the things it’s working on is keeping its pitchers in longer, Schoenly said.
“We are working on their stamina and reducing the amount of pitches they throw earlier in the game,” Schoenly said. “If we go at batters more aggressively earlier so (the pitchers) can last longer, that would be the No. 1 way to help.”
Overall, though, McIntyre said she is pleased with where the team stands.
“We’re right where we want to be,” McIntyre said. “We had a lot of players stand out (last weekend) and make some big plays for us.”
One of those standout players was junior outfielder Caitlin Conrad, who finished the FAU Kickoff Classic batting 7-14, including two home runs, five RBIs, three doubles and a triple.
Schoenly said after Conrad spent the majority of last season batting ninth in the lineup, she has worked hard to become one of the Buckeyes’ offensive leaders and now bats third.
“She is a junior now and I feel like she has done what she needed to do to be in that situation,” Schoenly said. “We like to put all of our hot hitters together and right now, she’s there.”
Defensively, Schoenly said the outfield has great communication skills and aggressiveness. Conrad is joined in the outfield by sophomore Cammi Prantl and junior Taylor Watkins.
“They were diving all over the place. We had a couple of assists out there and Cammi Prantl dove head first into the fence. Taylor had four diving catches, they were unreal,” Schoenly said.
As the Buckeyes begin to play more games, Schoenly expects the team to improve throughout the season.
“For the pitchers to throw back-to-back-to-back days, it’s something they grow into as the season goes on. I think, for our pitchers, the more they do that, the better they get at it,” Schoenly said. “I think playing that many games helps our hitters too because they see so many different pitchers and so many different types of pitches.”
OSU’s game against Cal State Northridge Friday is set for 4:30 p.m., followed by a game against Long Beach State at 6:45 p.m.