ATHENS, Ohio –The Ohio softball team (4-1) will continue their 2019 season in Columbia, S.C. to compete in the Gamecock Invitational. The Bobcats will take on South Carolina on Friday, February 15 at 5 p.m. They continue the tournament on Saturday, February 16 when they play UNC Greensboro at 10 a.m. On Sunday, Ohio will play Campbell at 10 a.m. before finishing the tournament against Charlotte at 3 p.m.
SCOUTING SOUTH CAROLINA
South Carolina enter the matchup with the Bobcats as the 15th ranked team in the country in USA Today/NFCA Coaches Poll.
Last season, South Carolina finished 49-17 overall, falling in the NCAA Super Regionals to Arizona State. As a team, they hit 87 doubles, 65 homeruns, 309 RBIs and finished the season with a .455 slugging percentage.
The Gamecocks opened their 2019 season at the Puerto Vallarta Challenge in Puerto Vallarta, Mexico, where they went 3-2 for the weekend. There, redshirt Junior Kenzie Maguire and sophomore Jana Johns led the team, each starting in all five games and earning a .333 batting average apiece.
Also returning for South Carolina is junior Mackenzie Boesel, who led the team with a .360 batting average last season. In 203 at-bats, Boesel scored 53 times, hit eight homeruns and 47 RBIs. Returning in the circle is sophomore Kelsey Oh. Oh finished her 2018 season with 1.92 ERA, making 35 appearances, pitching 10 complete games and striking out 135 batters.
SCOUTING UNC GREENSBORO
Last season, the Spartans finished 46-13. The season ended in Columbia, South Carolina at the NCAA Regionals against South Carolina and Hofstra. On the season, the team scored 320 times, hit 84 doubles 58 homeruns in 59 games.
UNCG opened the 2019 season at the JoAnne Graf Classic in Tallahassee, Florida. They finished the weekend 2-3, beating UNC Wilmington and Iowa State. Sophomore Katie Stettler led the team with a .429 batting average and a .571 slugging percentage.
Redshirt Senior Marisa Sholtes is also among the returners for UNCG. Sholtes finished the 2018 season with .730 slugging percentage, 16 homeruns and 16 doubles. In the circle is returner Stephanie Bryden. Last season, she had a 1.49 ERA, 26 wins and 122.1 innings pitched.
Last season, the Camels finished 29-27 overall. On the road to the Big South Championship, Campbell fell 6-5 to the tournament's second seed, Longwood. As a team, they hit 82 doubles, 67 homeruns and finished with the highest slugging percentage in the Big South Conference, .469.
Campbell started the 2019 season 1-5 at the Cowgirl Classic in Lake Charles, Louisiana. Senior Megan Mozingo and sophomores Bri Bryant and Avery Wheatley started in all five games, finishing the weekend with a .250 batting average apiece.
In the circle, junior Megan Richards held a 3.76 ERA last season, winning 17 games. In 173.1 innings pitched, she struck out 117 batters.
Last season, Charlotte finished 18-32 overall, finishing their season with a walk-off victory on Senior Day. As a team, they hit 136 RBIs, 64 doubles and scored 153 runs in 50 games.
The 49ers are currently 2-4. They opened their 2019 season at the GCU Kickoff Tournament in Phoenix Arizona, where they defeated Grand Canyon University once. Charlotte picked up another win in a midweek game against Elon.
Returning to the circle are junior Alison Green and redshirt junior Carson Pace. Green finished last season with a 4.40 ERA and 62 innings pitched. Pace pitched 34.2 innings and struck out 22 batters in the 2018 season.
The Bobcats are 4-1 overall after the first weekend of action.
Offensively, the Bobcats are hitting .318 as a team, scoring a total of 29 runs with 47 hits, eight doubles, two triples and two homeruns. They've also registered 24 RBI and have a team slugging percentage of .439. The Bobcats also have a .382 on base percentage, while drawing 13 walks.
Individually, senior Morgan Geno is leading the Bobcats with a .563 batting average, with nine hits, one double, one homerun and seven RBI with an .813 slugging percentage. Sophomore Allie Englant is next, batting .550 with 11 hits in 20 at bats, scoring six runs with one triple and three RBI.
In the circle, the Bobcats have a 3.09 team ERA. In 34.0 innings pitched, the Bobcats have allowed 15 earned runs on 31 hits and have struck out 19 batters, while opponents are hitting .228 against them.
Individually., freshman Mackensie Kohl started her career off strong, with a 2-0 record and one save, while recording a 1.35 ERA in four appearances with two starts and two complete games. She's allowed four earned runs on 15 hits in 20.2 innings, while striking out 11. Sophomore Madi McCrady is next with a 4.32 ERA in 11.1 innings, allowing seven runs and striking out six.
The Bobcats opened the 2019 season in Kennesaw, Georgia for the three-day Phyllis Rafter Memorial, finishing the weekend 4-1. On Friday, Ohio opened the weekend with a 9-8 victory over Eastern Illinois, pulling ahead quickly in the first inning. In the second game, Chattanooga defeated the Cats 6-3. Like in the earlier game, Ohio scored first, but Chattanooga scored four runs in the bottom of the first and maintained the lead the remainder of the game.
Ohio opened Saturday with 6-1 victory against Morehead State. Morehead State scored their one and only run in the first inning before the Bobcats would pull ahead 2-1 in the bottom of the inning, only adding to their lead as the game continued. In the afternoon, Ohio downed Kennesaw State 7-2. Similarly to their earlier games, they scored first and maintained a solid lead the entire game.
The Bobcats finished the weekend by defeating Eastern Illinois 4-1 on Sunday afternoon. Yet again, Ohio struck first, exiting the first inning with a 1-0 lead and holding EIU until the top of the sixth.
MAC PLAYER OF THE WEEK
Geno was named to MAC Co-Player of the Week on Tuesday, Feb. 12 for her performance the first weekend of play.
Geno batted .563 with nine hits in 16 at bats, scored two runs, had one double and one homerun. She also recorded seven RBI, had a .813 slugging percentage and a .650 on base percentage. Geno drew three walks and was hit by a pitch, while only striking out twice. Also, in her first weekend at first base, Geno recorded 25 putouts and only one error for a .962 fielding percentage.
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 RBIs, 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 RBIs. 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.
Up next, the Bobcats head to Chattanooga, Tenn. for the Chattanooga Frost Classic. There, they will face Southern Illinois at 11 a.m. and Eastern Kentucky at 4 p.m. on Friday, February 22. On Saturday, February 23, the Bobcats will face-off against Chattanooga at 1:30 p.m. and Evansville at 4 p.m. They will finish the tournament on Sunday, February 24 at 10 a.m. when they play Creighton.