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Softball Media ©Nina Molnar Bobcat Athletics 2024

Softball: Tori O’Brien, driven by her furry companion, has become a revelation for Ohio


The excited voice of Tori O’Brien stretches out as she is approached from where she is standing just beyond second base. 

Ohio’s second game of its doubleheader against Central Michigan has ended. Ohio head coach Jenna Hall finished talking to her team, and the players began to gather their belongings from the dugout to talk to parents next to the bleachers at Ohio Softball Field. 

Tori O’Brien and a few teammates hang back. A visitor is approaching. This visitor is an expected one, and although small in physical stature, has a profound effect on many. This visitor struts toward its companion, moving its legs quickly without going terribly fast. 

This visitor is none other than Archie, O’Brien’s Miniature Dachshund. Archie holds the title of team mascot right next to Rufus. 

Since he was adopted by O’Brien last year, Archie has enjoyed some of the spoils of life. Like many only children, he enjoys the complete attention of everyone around him. In fact, Archie also has an Instagram account and was invited to participate in the media day photos for the team. Archie, according to O’Brien, has become more comfortable with pushing boundaries and even acting out at times. 

“He was a lot better behaved,” O’Brien said. “Now, he’s a big barker.” 

Photos provided by Ohio Athletics (Nina Molnar)

Archie has arguably been one of the most consistent members of the team over the last two years. He sits in the stands for every home game, rain or shine. Sometimes when it is hot or sunny, Archie can be found under an umbrella and resting on a blanket at the top of the bleachers, enjoying the lush life that many only imagine living. 

O’Brien is in an unusual position as a student, athlete and pet owner. Normally, having just two of those things are enough to drive one crazy, but O’Brien balances it all. That balance does not come without some struggles and challenges, though. 

“The hardest thing I ever did was the first time I ever had to drop him off when we were traveling,” O’Brien said. “I was crying. It felt like dropping my kid off at school. It was so weird.”

The responsibility to take care of another living thing does not just extend to what O’Brien does, but the trust she has for Archie. She is at a point where she knows that she can leave him alone at home while she is at practice or class and be confident that he will be ok with her there. She does admit, though, it helps considerably that “he sleeps pretty much all day” and that his short legs make it virtually impossible for him to reach things on the counter. 

O’Brien understands the fact that she has learned a lot about life by having another living thing that relies on her. 

“I’ve learned … I need to go let Archie out and then I can go (do social things),” O’Brien said. “The responsibility of knowing that I have a priority and a living thing at home that I have to take care of.” 

That sense of enhanced responsibility is something that can be seen in her play on the field. This season, she has increased her batting average by nearly 40 points, moving to the top of the lineup for Ohio. O’Brien has noticed that, statistical improvements notwithstanding, she has put more pressure on herself while she understands the context of the game. 

“One thing that I’ve noticed is I put a lot of pressure on myself at the beginning of the game to get on base and show my teammates that we are going to be able to hit this girl,” O’Brien said. “I feel like when I get a leadoff hit, it is a sign saying ‘We’re going to hit this girl …’ I started to realize that the first at-bat is not the whole game. It’s a marathon, not a sprint.” 

O’Brien has refined her approach and has hit .343 since the beginning of MAC play. Additionally, O’Brien has nearly surpassed her number of RBI (8) from last season in just 26 games. Some of the improvements can be traced to her moving up in the order, but others are due to her mental improvements. 

“I have done a good job of focusing on what I can do and what I’m good at,” O’Brien said. “Sometimes, I get a little bit out of my realm, but I reel myself back in.” 

Softball Media ©Nina Molnar Bobcat Athletics 2024

After every single home game for Ohio, O’Brien knows exactly where to look for her best friend on four legs. Usually, Archie will come to her and greet her with an excited yip. O’Brien will pick up Archie, take hold of his leash and parade him around the field, much to the joy of the other members of the team. When all of the fanfare is over for the two-year-old pup, O’Brien plucks Archie off the ground and cradles him in her arms as she walks away from the field. After all, it is just the two of them finding their way in this world. 


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