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Sophomore Skipp Miller (19) pitches the ball at the game against Toledo at Ohio Softball Stadium on April 25, 2023, in Athens, Ohio.

Softball: Ohio is looking to get off to a strong start in the FAU Paradise Classic

Ohio is looking to get off on the right foot with its opening weekend of the season at the FAU Paradise Classic. The Bobcats are returning a majority of their talent from last season but will see a myriad of tests in front of them as they go through the gauntlet of teams that face them.

The team will face the only pre-season ranked opponent on their schedule, as well as two other teams coming off dominant seasons in 2023. The challenge that these matchups present will help set a tone for where Ohio stands going into the rest of its season, playing against high-major competition off the bat.

Here’s everything you need to know ahead of this weekend’s events.

Series Information

Opponents: Michigan State, Arkansas, Penn State, Florida Atlantic

Times: Friday at 9 a.m. and 11:30 a.m., Saturday at 3:45 p.m. and 6 p.m., Sunday at 11:30 p.m.

Location: Joan Joyce Field (Boca Raton, Florida)

Where to Watch: FloSports

Game One: Michigan State

2023 Record: 14-32, 4-19 Big Ten

Head Coach: Sharonda McDonald-Kelley (second season)

Returning Statistical Leaders

Batting Average: Macy Lee (.297)

Hits: Lee (30)

On-Base Percentage: Hailey Bila (.429)

Home Runs: AJ Militello (2)

RBIs: Lee (11)

Innings Pitched: Faith Guidry (107.0)

Strikeouts: Guidry (56)

ERA: Guidry (4.78)

Michigan State struggled all season in 2023, especially in Big Ten play. On top of that, the Spartans are seeing a handful of their top contributors leave, having graduated or transferred. If the Bobcats come out on top, it’ll be a great momentum builder going into the next matchup.

Game Two: Arkansas (No. 12)

2023 Record: 40-19, 14-10 Southeastern Conference

Head Coach: Courtney Deifel (ninth season)

Returning Statistical Leaders

Batting Average: Reagan Johnson (.378)

Hits: Johnson (79)

On-Base Percentage: Rylin Hedgecock (.459)

Home Runs: Hedgecock (21)

RBI: Hedgecock (62)

Innings Pitched: Robyn Herron (73.0)

Strikeouts: Herron (107)

ERA: Herron (2.30)

Arkansas made it to the NCAA tournament before falling to Oregon 14-4 on the final day of group play. The Razorbacks are returning their top offensive talents in Johnson and Hedgecock, but will be looking to get more out of their other options at pitcher as their lead from last year, Chenise Delce – who pitched in 180.1 innings – has graduated.

Games Three & Five: Penn State

2023 Record: 31-16, 11-11 Big Ten

Head Coach: Clarisa Crowell (fourth season)

Returning Statistical Leaders

Batting Average: Emily Maddock (.439)

Hits: Kaitlyn Morrison (49)

On-Base Percentage: Maddock (.491)

Home Runs: Morrison (7)

RBI: Morrison (34)

Innings Pitched: Paige Meynard (15.2)

Strikeouts: Meynard (8)

ERA: Meynard (6.89)

Penn State poses itself as another menacing opponent for Ohio, having completed a dominant season in 2023, staying at .500 in a talented Big Ten conference. The question for the Nittany Lions heading into the 2024 season will be pitching, as they lost the three players who pitched the most innings last season.

Game Four: Florida Atlantic

2023 Record: 35-20, 15-9 Conference

Head Coach: Jordan Clark (second season)

Returning Statistical Leaders:

Batting Average: Cammeo Presuttio (.332)

Hits: Presuttio (61)

On-Base Percentage: Presuttio (.387)

Home Runs: Jesiana Mora (3)

RBI: Mora (23)

Innings Pitched: Gabby Saco (169.1)

Strikeouts: Saco (96)

ERA: Saco (1.61)

Florida Atlantic is a team that has returned talent on both ends, coming off a successful season in 2023. They will look to have another great season pitching the ball with Saco returning. In the second to last matchup of the FAU Paradise Classic, Ohio could be looking at a low-scoring game played between two talented pitching rooms.


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