Ohio softball looks to begin the groundwork of its defense of last year’s Mid-American Conference Championship on Sunday in a doubleheader against Marshall.
The Bobcats hope their veteran leadership will carry them throughout the season, as they only lost two players to graduation.
Although the fall season has yet to begin and practice is just in the first week, players and coaches are looking forward to defending their championship.
“I have high standards for this team,” coach Jodi Hermanek said. “We lost two starters, and that’s about the least that you could lose in a year, especially coming off of a championship, so we have a lot of veterans, we have a lot of experience.”
Marshall and Ohio have a longstanding rivalry, and play a doubleheader each fall. Each year, Ohio plays a short schedule of softball games in the fall to prepare for the spring season.
“We play (the fall games) to put the new group, the new team, and the new atmosphere on the field together,” Hermanek said. “Give them an opportunity to execute a lot of the instructional coaching moments that we take.”
On what looks to be an experienced squad, senior right fielder Adrienne Gebele returns from last season’s championship team after starting all 58 games.
“As a team, we want to come bringing our ‘A’ game every single time, and play Ohio softball which is just keeping our culture and our fire and our drive to win. Just dominating,” Gebele said.
The Bobcats will have three series of doubleheaders in the fall lineup, including a trip to Columbus to play Dayton and Northern Kentucky. After the fall lineup of games, the team will reconvene for its winter workouts in preparation for the spring season.
Hermanek praised the team’s leadership, and expects more of the same in the upcoming season.
“Right now, it’s only the first week of practice, so it’s about making sure the team is coming together, and we’re paying attention to the details that made us successful last year, like accountability, discipline, and focusing on each rep that we’re taking,” Hermanek said. “I think we’re doing a good job with that mindset.”
Because the fall season is a time of preparing for the spring season, heavy emphasis will be placed on trying out different lineup combinations and giving each player their fair shot of competing for a starting job.
“We need to continue to challenge ourselves, we need to continue to push people into positions that we think will suit this teams needs this year, and we need to expand upon things that we now have the time to practice that maybe in the spring we weren’t as dominant at,” Hermanek said.
With high expectations for the fall season, the Bobcats must temper their hopes and focus on the task at hand.
“Repeating is my goal for this team, and I think it’s very doable,” Gebele said. “We just need to keep getting one percent better every day, and go out there with that goal every practice, every workout.”