Ohio was chosen as the preseason pick to win the Mid-American Conference Tournament and was the runner up last season, the Bobcats will start the regular season in South Carolina with five games in three days.
The Bobcats finished the fall season 7-1 and are hoping to keep the momentum churning.
Reining MAC Pitcher of the Year Savannah Jo Dorsey returns for her senior season after having one of the best seasons by a Bobcat in the circle. Dorsey posted a 24-12 record with a 1.72 ERA and 336 strikeouts over 248.2 innings pitched.
That lead to not only her Pitcher of the Year honor but also the No. 22 ranking in the Fast Pitch News Preseason Top 50 NCAA Softball Pitchers.
Pitcher Danielle Steine will also return after an impressive season herself posting a 12-10 record with a 2.29 ERA with 152 strikeouts over 159.0 innings pitched leading to second team All-MAC honors and the No. 26 ranking in the Fast Pitch News Preseason rankings.
There will be a new face in the circle this season for the Bobcats, too. Freshman Desirae Villanueva, who is from Canada. Her pitching control will be the big key to her development.
These three combined with Jamie Wren and Morgan Geno will give coach Jodi Hermanek a deep and talented pitching rotation to use, which should help Villanueva get used to being in a college circle without rushing her development, and will help keep Dorsey and Steine from getting overworked.
A big help to the pitching staff and the coaches will be the veteran catchers Madison Claytor and Natalie Alvarez, who both have not only showed offensive talent, but the ability to handle the pitching staff behind the plate.
The Bobcats are looking at a new future shortstop, too, as Amanda Dalton graduated. That paved the way for MacKenzie Brunswick to take over the position. Brunswick played the far majority of innings at short this fall and played well.
Ohio will feature some dual sport athletes this season, with freshman Brittany Keen and senior Alexis Milesky joining the team as outfielders. Keen made her way to Athens from Australia and played this fall on the field hockey team. Milesky wrapped up her soccer career this fall before joining the softball roster.
The talent and leadership Ohio has will be tested by a schedule that features seven teams that reached the NCAA Tournament last season. The team will not be in Athens for a home game until March 15, so the team will not only have to play these talented programs, but will have the added challenge of playing them on the road.
Ohio plays Longwood Friday morning at 10 a.m.