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Softball: Ohio State faces Wright State in home opener after 25-straight road games

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OSU then-sophomore Taylor White (21) during a game against Penn State on April 6 at Buckeye Field. Credit: Lantern file photo

Twenty-five games into the season, the Ohio State softball team will finally play its home opener on Wednesday evening, as the Buckeyes host in-state foe Wright State at 5 p.m.

Every year, Ohio’s cold climate forces OSU to play every game on the road for nearly two months before playing on its own field — a tall task, junior outfielder Taylor White said.

“It definitely is a grind,” White said. “You have to think about it, we’re only here for three solid days of the week, and then we have to get up and go again.”

This season, the road trips have taken the Buckeyes to Texas, North Carolina, California and Florida — all of which average warmer temperatures than Columbus, which is the best thing about the travel, White said.

More than a vacation from the frigid Ohio winter, the road trips give an opportunity for the Buckeyes to grow closer as a team, said OSU coach Kelly Kovach Schoenly.

“We embrace traveling for our preseason,” she said. “It gives the women an opportunity to fully invest in developing relationships and trust that they need on the field.”

Another perk is the support the team received while on the road from fans, said sophomore outfielder Bri Betschel.

“I think our team is strong, so we can make an away game feel like a home game, especially with our fans,” Betschel said. “When we were in Florida, there were so many people that it wasn’t even like we were away — it was like we were at a home game.”

On Wednesday, it won’t just feel like a home game, it will be one.

“It’s really exciting,” Betschel said. “I think we’ve all been waiting for this moment, and I think it will pump us up even more having the support from everyone in the Columbus area.”

The Buckeyes host Wright State, which enters the game just 6-15. Despite the record, the Raiders enter Wednesday’s contest hot, having won half of their games in the past week.

Wright State is led by senior second baseman Libby Pfeffer, who was named the Horizon League Softball Player of the Week on Monday. Pfeffer hit .529 last week, including five doubles, with seven RBIs and four runs scored.

The Buckeyes have a hot hitter of their own, as sophomore shortstop Lilli Piper was named Big Ten Player of the Week on Monday after hitting .727 with two home runs — including one grand slam — and eight RBIs.

OSU enters the game after a three-game sweep of Maryland in its Big Ten opener over the weekend, and has won 11 of its last 12 games.

The Buckeyes will look to improve upon that hot streak Wednesday at home, finally ending the grueling 25-game road stretch.

“It is a grind,” White said. “But we like it and it just makes us that much more excited to play at home with our fans.”

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