When Alex Basquez stepped out on the softball field at the beginning of the season, she could have only imagined the string of unlikely events that were about to unfold.
After she started as the third-string catcher, injuries to the two people ahead forced Basquez into the starting lineup. As the Bobcats headed toward their runner-up finish in the Mid-American Conference Tournament, she became more comfortable.
Basquez played competitively in Elk Grove, Calif. all her life, starting out as a catcher when she was young and moving quickly to the infield. Ohio then brought her in as third baseman, not the catching position that she currently holds.
“I got recruited to be a third baseman, so I was ready to play third base right behind Sara (Clark),” Basquez said.
But when catchers Jordan Paden and Lauren Gellerman both went down with injuries, Basquez took up her old position and became the starting catcher for the MAC East regular-season champions.
“We have two top-notch catchers in our program,” coach Jodi Hermanek said. “And it’s not likely or common for a program to have two season-ending injuries in one season or one position.”
When Gellerman suffered a concussion early in Ohio’s season, Hermanek shifted Basquez to the bullpen catcher role for the Bobcats.
But barely a month later, Basquez found herself moving from the bullpen to actual games. Paden, the senior who had taken over for Gellerman, sustained a season-ending injury against Central Michigan during the teams’ series in April. Paden’s injury allowed for Basquez to be called into the lineup.
“I wasn’t hesitant,” Basquez said. “Anything that coach told me, no matter what — that would be my role as a freshman, if they needed me to step in.”
Basquez said she was nervous for her first game catching, since she hadn’t donned the gear since she was 12 years old, but Paden and Gellerman gave her advice when it came to preparation.
“If I am trying to learn something else, (Jordan) will take it step by step and work it with me until I actually get it,” Basquez said, adding the entire team has been very supportive of helping her transition spots on the field.
Since her debut, Basquez has become gradually less nervous. Emily Wethington, Ohio’s ace on the mound, has noticed Basquez’s growth at one of the most important positions on the field in terms of leadership.
“She is one of those people that always asks questions and wants to fix things, like get her swing and her stance and in the field,” Wethington said. “She wants to make sure that she is giving everything that she has.”