The 2012 softball season has been a season of ups and downs for Ohio State. On a team that only has four seniors on the roster, it is something to be expected. The young Lady Bucks have looked to seniors Mikayla Endicott (P), Alicia Herron (SS), Katie Simonton (OF), and Vanessa Spears (OF) for leadership throughout and, for the most part, that’s exactly what they are getting.
The Buckeyes opened up their season in Clermont, FL for the Dot Richardson NTC tournament. Things didn’t start the way Ohio State was hoping but, as with any young team, it was a valuable learning experience. The Bucks started the season 2-4 with the only two victories coming from sophomore pitcher Melanie Nichols. Nichols yielded 7 runs in the two wins but the offense scored her 16 which can definitely help a young pitcher’s confidence. Endicott’s leadership proved valuable as well, by picking up a save in one of the victories.
Following the tournament the Buckeyes were able to rip of 5 straight victories, finally getting some steady play from the offense lead by Herron’s 8 RBI’s during the span. The Bucks managed to outscore their 5 opponents 29-13, made possible by solid pitching efforts from Endicott and Nichols, which included a one hit complete-game shut-out by Endicott over Fresno State.
The final 13 games of the pre-Big Ten schedule was proof that this young team still had a ways to go in terms of consistency. The offense was shut out 3 times, but the pitching was able to return the favor to their opponents in three games as well. The Bucks went 7-6, which included Vanessa Spears collecting a home run and 6 RBI’s in their 7 wins. Their 12-3 win over Longwood on March 2nd was the 1000th win in the program’s history.
The Lady Bucks closed out March and opened up April with an 8 game winning streak. The streak included wins over Big Ten foes Indiana and Michigan State, and out of conference wins over Wright State and Buffalo. The offense exploded, possibly only surpassed by the quality of the pitching. Ohio State outscored their opponents by an astonishing 61-19 overall.
Coming into this past weekend’s series with Nebraska the Bucks were 5-6 in the Big Ten and 26-16 overall. The Huskers swept the Buckeyes on Saturday with a 11-2 win in the opening game of the doubleheader, and finished the Buckeyes off in the second game 3-2 in an 8 inning thriller. Ohio State bounced back on Sunday with a 4-0 win that included a stellar performance in the circle from Nichols who only yielded 3 hits and walked one in another complete-game shutout. Offensively they were lead by Megan Coletta who went 1-3 with a home run and 2 RBIs.
The Buckeyes have nine games left in the regular season, including series against Northwestern this weekend, followed by Iowa and finishing up with Penn State. All three teams are beatable and the Bucks have shown that they score runs and can shut down offenses with their pitching. But the questions remains, “Can they do it consistently?” If Ohio State can continue their streak over the next 9 games they may not be able to reach the top of the Big Ten standings but they can definitely set themselves up for a good Big Ten Tournament run.