Ohio will look to keep the momentum going following a week break between tournaments.
The Bobcats (8-1) will travel to Knoxville to play host Tennessee, Southeastern Louisiana, Bradley, Delaware and Jacksonville State over three days. This will be the first time Ohio plays since it swept the surprise home tournament two weeks ago.
Coach Jodi Hermanek said the chance to get some active rest was welcomed especially during mid-terms, but at the same time it is tough to get in a routine of playing and then all of a sudden get a week without games.
“Once you start hitting you don’t want to stop hitting, and once you start taking ground balls on the field you don’t want to stop,” Hermanek said. “Hopefully we are a seasoned enough team that we can just jump right back in.”
The hitting so far this season has mostly been done by a group of sophomores consisting of Morgan Geno, MacKenzie Brunswick, Alex Day, Natalie Alvarez and Jamie Wren. Together this group is hitting .292 with three home runs and 22 runs batted in for Ohio.
Another sophomore making an impact is Deanna Cole, who despite having a cast on her hand and arm, has come in as a runner all season and has stolen three bases without getting caught. She has also scored four runs through the first nine games of the season for the Bobcats.
In the circle, Savannah Jo Dorsey has picked up right where she left off from last season by going 4-0 with a save and a 1.17 ERA along with 50 strikeouts against seven walks in 30 innings pitched. She also won Mid-American Conference East Pitcher of the Week honors opening weekend.
Behind Dorsey in the rotation, the Bobcats have gotten solid contributions from Danielle Stiene and Desirae Villanueva this season. Stiene is 2-0 with a 2.82 ERA with 37 strike outs over her 22.1 innings of work this year. The freshman, Villanueva, picked up her first college win on Feb. 19 when she tossed a complete game while striking out three, and only allowing five hits.
The pitching and the defense, which have made five errors through the first nine games, will be tested in the upcoming tournament by the speed and ability to put the ball in play of the opponents they will see in Knoxville.
“We are going to see a lot of speed up and down from our opponents,” Hermanek said. “We are going to see some solid hitters, so we just need to be ready to have some good defense.”
When the tournament in California got cancelled two weeks ago forcing Ohio to host the surprise tournament in Athens, it lost out on the chance to play a nationally-ranked team in Washington. The Bobcats will get that chance this week, however, when Ohio faces Tennessee, who is ranked No. 15 in the country.
The game can be seen on WatchESPN and will provide Ohio with a chance to test themselves against one of the top teams from the SEC, that boasts 10 teams in the Top-25.