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Softball players watch a fly ball during Ohio's game against Marshall on Sep. 26. The Bobcats won 5-0. 

Softball: Bobcats anxious to open season against Longwood at Carolina Classic

Ohio will begin its 2016 season Friday in South Carolina. 

Coach Jodi Hermanek is just ready to play again.

"It could have come a month earlier, this week couldn't have flown by faster," Hermanek said. "But we're ready to hit the dirt and get the scoreboard lit."

As much as she enjoys scrimmaging and batting practice inside Walter Fieldhouse, she was just as eager as her team to get outside.

"It's great for us to come out here and put our scouting report into play and to continue to get reps," she said.

What lies ahead for Hermanek and Ohio will be intriguing. 

After a lackluster season last year in which it went 15-32 and saw six seniors leave the program, the Bobcats enter 2016 as the preseason pick to win the Mid-American Conference regular season title. 

"I'm bitter," Hermanek said. "More than anything, I want to be a regular season winner. But that tournament is gonna be our key to get into the postseason. So preseason polls are preseason polls, and they're always fun to have in every sport, but we'll find out when we get there."

The first game for the Bobcats comes Friday against Longwood at the Carolina Classic in Columbia, South Carolina.

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Hermanek added seven freshmen to the roster this season, in addition to two transfers to help replace the loss of last season's seniors. It also will get a few more outfielders and pitchers in the squad. 

"They're just like a breath of fresh air," Hermanek said. "They're just great people and good talent, and we're just happy to have them in our program."

She also will have redshirt junior pitcher Savannah Jo Dorsey back after Dorsey missed most of the 2015 season with a herniated disk.

The team missed its reliable ace last season, forcing Lauren McClary to pitch extra innings before freshman Sydney Compston adjusted to the college game and Mikayla Cooper could be converted from an infielder to a pitcher. 

With Dorsey back in the circle, there is a certain confidence in front of the Ohio defense that was lacking last season. 

"Yeah, it's a tough injury to come back from no matter what sport," Hermanek said of Dorsey. "She's just a champ ... so just watching her get on the field this weekend is going to be a lot of fun for all of us."

Dorsey's return and the promise of a new season has brought a palpable excitement to the team.

If the Bobcats can replicate the success they had during the 2014 season, in which they won the MAC Tournament and went to their first NCAA Tournament in 17 years, Hermanek will be more than pleased with her team's progress after a rough season last year. 


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