At the Ohio Softball field Sunday, the Bobcats battled St. Francis (Pennsylvania). The Bobcats closed out their first weekend series of the fall against the Red Flash. Here's some things we learned about the team:
One: Natalie Alvarez is clutch
She’s tough, she fights at the plate and she has the knack for the big hit.
Natalie Alvarez caught all fourteen innings of the doubleheader Sunday due to an injury to Madison Claytor. Alvarez saw 23 pitches in seven at-bats Sunday in which she fouled off most pitches, something coach Jodi Hermanek noted.
“She just fouls off so many pitches,” Hermanek said.
She only had two hits the entire doubleheader, but they were the biggest one of each game.
In the bottom of the sixth in game one, she hit an RBI double to give the Bobcats the 3-2 lead that would be the final margin. Then just to outdo herself in game two, she hit a walk-off grand slam to give the Bobcats a 7-5 win and a double header sweep.
“You know last year we used her a lot as a pinch hitter to come up into a spot when we need a big hitter to come in and change the game for us,” Hermanek said.
Two: Don’t Overlook Danielle Stiene
Savannah Jo Dorsey was the MAC pitcher of the year last year and had a record year for Ohio. Added into the rotation, Desirae Villanueva is a talented freshman pitcher from Canada.
Overlooked in this conversation, however, is Danielle Stiene.
“Well Danni was a big part of our pitching staff last year, and she is going to be an instrumental part of it this year as well, I expect a lot out of that veteran,” Hermanek said.
She should, as so far this fall Danielle Stiene has picked up right where she left off from last season. She pitched a complete game Saturday, while still pitching Sunday.
Stein went seven and 1/3 innings pitched, eight hits, three runs, one walk and seven strikeouts. She'll be one to watch this spring as she looks to continue the success she has had so far.
“That is the exact kind of pitcher we need her to be in our staff,” Hermanek said.
Three: Hitting and Speed kills
Taylor Saxton and Deanna Cole can fly.
They are also good as hitters as well. Saxton hit leadoff in the first game and Cole followed her, and in game two they switched spots in the lineup.
This isn’t exactly what Hermanek wants to do with the lineup, however.
“The more steady we can keep it, the better it will be,” she said.
What they are looking to do is solidify the leadoff spot, but not necessarily right now.
“You know in the fall we are not going to anchor down anything set yet, we just want to use these games as trials, as towards the bigger picture,” Hermanek said.
Saxton and Cole both showed their hitting ability as they combined for eight hits in the doubleheader.
“Deanna has been getting on base, but not only that, but punching the ball hard through all spots on the field yesterday and today," Hermanek said. "Taylor really needs to settle down and work on quality at bats and moving the runner kind of thing. I just wanted to take the pressure off Saxton in that second game and let her just kind of settle behind a fast runner and she did and great job and had three awesome at-bats today.”
Clean up: Opportunities are abundant
Only four new freshmen are on the team: Villanueva, Alexa Holland, Christina Skrabak, and Karlee Alderman. They're going to get their opportunities, just like everyone else on the team.
“Well we know we have a lot of athleticism on the field and we want to give each athlete the opportunity to have fun and get out here and perform on the field,” Hermanek said.
All 19 players on the OU roster will see action this fall and close to, if not all, will see action this spring as well. This gives opportunities as everyone needs to be ready to show their talent. In Sunday’s second game, multiple pinch hitters and pinch runners were used in the comeback win, clearly illustrating the team has talent and fight that impressed Hermanek.
“I was just really excited for the fight, the fight back that we had,” she said.
This means players will need to be versatile, like the ways Jamie Wren and Mikayla Cooper have been used by Hermanek.
“We are just still shuffling some things around you know we got Wren between outfield and first and DP spot," Hermanek said. "We got 'Coop between third and first and we got all kinds of different things going on,” Hermanek said.