ATHENS, Ohio –The Ohio softball team (17-10) returns to action Tuesday, March 19 when the Bobcats head to Pittsburgh, Pa. to take on Pitt (4-21). First pitch is set for 4 p.m. at the Petersen Sports Complex.
Pitt enters the game against Ohio 4-21 overall and 1-5 in conference play. As a team, they have a .226 batting average and a .347 slugging percentage. In 25 games and 602 at bats, the Panthers have scored 66 times, hit 27 doubles, two triples and 14 homeruns.
Last weekend, Pitt competed in their second weekend of ACC play, taking on Duke. Although the Panthers dropped the first two games of the weekend, falling 4-3 and 8-0, respectively, they picked up their first conference win on Sunday, March 17 when they downed Duke, 5-3.
Leading the way for the Panthers is freshman outfielder Katlyn Pavlick, with a .288 batting average. In 66 at bats, Pavlick accumulated five doubles, five homeruns and nine RBI. With 15 walks on the season, she also holds the highest on-base percentage on the team, .420. Just behind her is junior infielder Alexee Haynes. Haynes has a .269 batting average, 14 hits and six RBI on the season.
In the circle is freshman Abby Edwards, who holds a 4.86 ERA in 16 appearances. In 53.1 innings pitched, Edwards has struck out 12 batters and walked 30. Also hurling for Pitt is redshirt sophomore Brittany Knight, who has a 5.45 ERA in 69.1 innings pitched while striking out 30 batters.
HEY! WE KNOW THEM
New head coach Jodi Hermanek spent the previous 10 years with the Ohio softball team, leading the Bobcats to their first-ever conference tournament championship in 2014 before the team advanced to the national postseason for the first time in 19 years. The 2018 squad secured the program's first-ever first seed in the MAC tournament before winning the championship and returning to the national postseason. Hermanek also led Ohio to the NCAA Knoxvile Region Final, helping the BObcats pick up their first ever NCAA victories.
Former Ohio assistant and player Jillian Van Wagnen is also on staff at Pitt.
The Bobcats are 17-10 overall after seven full weeks of play.
Offensively, the Bobcats are hitting .308 as a team, scoring a total of 143 runs with 239 hits, 20 doubles, six triples and 31 homeruns. They've also registered 130 RBI and have a team slugging percentage of .482. The Bobcats also have a .384 on base percentage, while drawing 86 walks.
Individually, senior Natalie Alvarez is leading the Bobcats with a .400 batting average with 36 hits, six doubles, four homeruns and 13 RBI. Sophomore Katie Yun is batting .390 with 32 hits in 83 at bats, scoring 21 runs with ten doubles, five homeruns and 15 RBI. Meanwhile, senior Morgan Geno is batting .381 with 32 hits, four doubles, 10 homeruns and a team-leading .475 on-base percentage. Sophomore Allie Englant next with a .346 batting average, with 27 hits, one triple and 18 runs scored.
In the circle, the Bobcats have a 3.38 team ERA. In 178.1 innings pitched, Ohio has allowed 86 earned runs on 162 hits and has struck out 131 batters, while opponents are hitting .233 against them.
Individually, freshman Mackensie Kohl started her career off strong, with a 7-2 record and one save, while recording a 2.83 ERA in 13 appearances with 10 starts and six complete games. She's allowed 28 earned runs on 69 hits in 69.1 innings, while striking out 42. Sophomore Madi McCrady is next with a 3.16 ERA in 97.1 innings, allowing 44 earned runs and striking out 79 batters.
The Bobcats are coming off of a 2-2 weekend at the Hoosier Classic. When there, the Bobcats opened the weekend with an upset, downing No. 19 Indiana 4-1 before falling 19-18 to St. Francis. The following day, Ohio bounced back, defeating St. Francis 17-9 in five innings and setting the program and Mid-American Conference record for homeruns in a single game. The Bobcats closed the weekend with a 6-4 loss against Indiana.
On the weekend, Ohio had a .369 batting average with 48 hits, three doubles, two triples and 14 homeruns. In the circle, Ohio registered a 5.71 ERA while striking out 28 batters, walking 12 and giving up 20 earned runs on 32 hits.
OHIO IN THE MAC
The Bobcats are leading the MAC in batting average (.308) and third in ERA (3.38).
Katie Yun is fifth in the conference in batting average (.390), first hits (39), second in runs scored (21) and first in at bats (100). Morgan Geno is second in slugging percentage (.786), seventh in on base percentage (.475), fourth in hits (32), first in RBI (39) and first in homeruns (10). Meanwhile, Natalie Alvarez is second in hits (36) and eighth in doubles (6) while Charlee Pond is sixth in hits (30), fourth in triples (2) and fifth in at bats (88).
Madi McCrady is first in innings pitched (97.1), first in complete games (14), fifth in opponent batting average (.216), fourth in strikeouts (79) and tied for first in wins (10). Mackensie Kohl is fifth in innings pitched (68.1).
THE KENZIE ROARK ERA BEGINS
The 2019 season marks new head coach Kenzie Roark's first season with the Bobcats. Before coming to Ohio, Roark spent four years with South Carolina Upstate as their pitching coach. Under her coaching, the Spartans won two Atlantic Sun Conference Regular Reason Championships and three ASUN Tournament Championships. Multiple of Roark's pitchers were recognized, including two ASUN Pitchers of the Year.
Before Upstate, Roarke was the pitching coach at East Tennessee State from 2012-14 where she helped the Lady Bucs accumulate their most wins since 2010. Roark's career began at Virginia Tech as a student assistant in 2011; this coaching staff was named the 2012 NFCA Mid-Atlantic Region Coaching Staff of the Year.
Before working for the Hokies, Roark played for Virginia Tech. She was named an Atlantic Coast Conference All-Tournament and Player of the Week during her career. As a freshman, she made an appearance in the 2008 College World Series. She ranks second all-time with 155 career appearances and fourth with 510 strikeouts, solidifying Roark as one of Virginia Tech's greatest pitchers of all time.
NEW STAFF FACES
Along with Roark, Ashley Taylor and Garrett Furnel were also added to the Bobcats staff to round out the 2019 coaching staff.
Taylor comes to Ohio after one year as the assistant softball coach at Tennessee Tech., after a successful collegiate career at Austin Peay.
Furnal spent last season at UNC Wilmington. In 2018, UNCW advanced to the CAA tournament for the second consecutive year. The CAA head softball coaches in the conference identified UNCW sophomore Dominique Travers and freshman Emily Langkamp as top athletes in the conference. Langkamp was also named All-Rookie Team after starting all 49 games recording the fewest strikeouts on the team. Two other girls joined the 100-Hit Club and multiple athletes received spots on the North Carolina Collegiate Sports Information Association All-State Second Team.
2018 BOBCAT REWIND
Ohio finished the 2018 season 40-17, 20-3 in-conference, clinching the Mid-American Conference Regular season crown for the first time since 1995 and earning their first ever number one seed in the MAC Tournament. The Bobcats would go on to win the 2018 MAC Tournament crown for the first time since 2014. After downing Northern Illinois 2-0, the Bobcats continued on to the NCAA Tournament Regionals in Knoxville, Tenn. While there, the Bobcats earned their first two NCAA victories, defeating Monmouth and James Madison, helping them advance to the Regional Finals for the first time in program history.
Overall, the team finished with a collective on-base percentage of .365, a .462 slugging percentage and a .283 batting average. The Bobcats scored 304 runs, had 274 RBI, hit 72 doubles and 57 homeruns, stole 37 bases and had 16 shutouts.
The Bobcats have six returning seniors, including Alex Day and redshirt senior Michaela Dorsey. Day finished the 2018 season with the highest batting average of the returners, .333. In 195 at-bats, she knocked 12 homeruns and 44 RBI. Dorsey falls not far behind with a .329 batting average, 46 hits, 10 doubles and eight homeruns. Last Season, Day and Dorsey both earned NFCA All-Mideast Region honors, while Day was also named to the All-MAC first team.
Morgan Geno also returns for the Bobcats, last season the designated hitter finished the season hitting .254 with a .571 slugging percentage, nine homeruns and eight doubles. Geno also earned All-MAC second team honors.
Other returners include sophomores Katie Yun, who was named to the MAC All-Freshman Team, Allie Englant, Brooke Rice and Madi McCrady, juniors Desirae Villanueva, Alexa Holland, and Kendall Meeks, and seniors MacKenzie Brunswick, Deanna Cole and Natalie Alvarez.
NEW TO THE SQUAD
Ohio is welcoming five newcomers to the team. Charlee Pond looks to add depth to the Bobcats' infield along with Caroline Spacek. Pond was named the Coastal League's Offensive Player of the Year and named All-State First Team twice while Spacek was named Newcomer of the year in 2014 as well as the Offensive "MVP" the following year. Mackensie Kohl looks to contribute in the circle; she lettered three times and helped lead her team to a Division I Championship in 2016. Taytum Hargrave brings additional speed to the outfield; she led her high school team in both batting average and stolen bases for three years and was named All-Conference three times as well. Justice Ruggles will be contributing in the outfield; she was named All-Conference, All-District, All-Regional and First Team All-State multiple years in a row.
The Bobcats were picked to finish third in the Mid-American Conference preseason poll. Both Ball State, who received six first place votes, and Kent State, who received two first place votes, finished ahead of Ohio in first and second place, respectively. Western Michigan finished fourth.
The Bobcats return to action on Friday, March 22 at 3 p.m. for their home opener against Bowling Green. On Saturday, March 23, Ohio will face off against Bowling Green again at 1 p.m. and 3 p.m.