Skip to Content, Navigation, or Footer.
The Post - Athens, OH
The independent newspaper covering campus and community since 1911.
The Post

Cory Wells, a sophomore pitcher, throws a ball against Rio Grande batter. Ohio lost to Rio Grande 2-0. 

Ohio looking for good fundamental start to 2015 season

Bobcats will begin their season with a three game series against UNC-Asheville starting on Friday

Ohio got to work on the outside practice field for the first time on Wednesday, braving the cold after spending the rest of its practice season in Walter Fieldhouse.Two days later, the Bobcats will begin their first series of the season as they hit the road to face UNC-Asheville during an unusually cold North Carolina weekend. The two meet for the first game on Friday at 3 p.m., followed by a doubleheader Saturday beginning at 11:30 a.m.

Heading into the season opener “there’s a good attitude” said Coach Rob Smith.

“We’re ready to play,” he said. “We’ve been inside practicing for a while now, and I think these guys are just itching to take on an outside opponent.”

Because of the disadvantage Ohio has being a northern school playing a spring sport, this weekend’s series will be the first of a fifteen-game road trip that Ohio begins the season with, barring weather difficulties. The Bobcats went 4-9 on a similar season-opening road trip a year ago, after its first three games of the season were cancelled.

{{tncms-asset app="editorial" id="3a90ddb8-b0bc-11e4-a087-d36b60d6045e"}}

With the limited exposure to playing outside combined with entering its first experience against live pitching this season, expectations around the coaching staff are to look for fundamentals first — pitchers throwing strikes and hitters beginning to develop a rhythm.

“We’re just focused on playing hard and playing with energy,” Smith said. “We hope our infielders can get comfortable picking the ball up and throwing it across the field. And if we throw a lot of strikes, I think we’ll have a good chance to stay in games.”

The strike-throwing rhythm will begin with the starting staff, who have became more adept at pacing games as the season progressed last season. Jake Rudnicki will get the ball to start Friday’s game, with Connor Sitz and Evan Geist slated to start on the mound Saturday.

The trio should shape up to be a good match for what Smith wants to accomplish. Rudnicki, a sophomore, led the team with a 4.62 ERA a year ago, while Sitz, a junior, finished with the lowest walk total (15) among all starters. Geist will be making his first appearance for the Bobcats after transferring from Florida State.

While the goal for the pitching staff is clear, the lineup’s goals will rely more on simply establishing a presence at the plate and putting together strong at-bats.

“You wanna try not to over-evaluate them,” Smith said. “It’s gonna be the first time they’ve seen live pitching, so from that standpoint you just hope to see some competitive at bats. If they can do that, that’s a good start.”

{{tncms-asset app="editorial" id="f2cf8872-ad8b-11e4-afec-77189e157aef"}}

While Ohio is looking to bounce back from a disastrous 2014 season, UNC-Asheville is coming off a similarly disappointing campaign. The Bulldogs finished the season with a 16-35 record, and enters this season with a new head coach in charge.

With both teams in a similar situation, the key to the series could be the veteran presence of Ohio getting the team up to form sooner rather than later.

“They know the process,” Smith said. “They understand what it’s like to go out and jump right into a game without seeing a live pitch yet. We don’t have a lot of young guys who will be on the field yet, and that’s a welcome change.”


Powered by SNworks Solutions by The State News
All Content © 2016-2024 The Post, Athens OH