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Ohio softball head coach, Jenna Hall, while being interviewed outside Ohio Softball Field, April 20, 2024, in Athens.

Softball: Jenna Hall looks to return Ohio to former glory through recruiting

Through recruiting, Ohio Softball head coach Jenna Hall has been able to bring in her type of players to help vault the program into the next generation of greatness. After a great stretch during the late 2010s, Ohio was in search of a new leader after Kenzie Roark retired following the 2022 season. Hall was brought in to return Ohio to the good times it saw under Jodi Hermanek and Roark.

Regardless, Hall understood the task that lay in front of her. In her first year at the helm, she guided Ohio to 32 wins and won Mid-American Conference Coach of the Year. As easy as she made it look to transition to the top of the food chain, she understands she can always learn from her experiences as a recruiter.

Hall acknowledges the fact that her experience in the region has been a major asset to recruiting. In her previous stops at Ohio State University and the University of Pittsburgh with a stint at Ohio sandwiched in between, she has become very familiar with the amount of talent in the area, as well as some of the coaches. 

“Ohio is a hotbed for talent in the softball world,” Hall said. “Thankfully for us, I think so many people know about this university and what it has to offer not just as athletics, but as a university. It kind of draws (athletes) to itself … It’s just about getting out there and making contact with a lot of these coaches. I’ve been in this region for a long time, so knowing a lot of people helps.”

Her first two commitments at Ohio came from Emily Caron and pitcher Mikie Lieving. The two have made substantially different contributions. Caron has been blocked a bit on the depth chart by some of the more experienced players on the infield.

However, with Shelby Westler being done for the season, Caron could see more action off the bench. Lieving, on the other hand, has been the No. 2 starter for Ohio behind ace Skipp Miller. In addition, Ohio’s two other freshmen, Izzie Wilson and Brenna Farmer, have both gotten regular starts in the field and have contributed heavily to success. Both of these players have showcased some of the tools that brought them to Ohio and drew the attention of Hall. 

Every coach, though, has a preference for what he or she wants in their players. In basketball, it could be shooting or length. In football, it could be players running a particular scheme. In softball, Hall likes well-rounded athletes.

“Being able to run the bases, have speed, move people around,” Hall said. “Obviously, anytime you can get kids that can swing it, that can put it over the fence, that's going to be really important … Pitching-wise, we're looking for kids that can mix speeds, can throw in the mid-to-upper 60s, but can also change it up when they need to.”

A new advent in recruiting is the transfer portal. Hall intends on using it this offseason with hopes of bringing in another catcher to pair with Emma Hoffner. Hall wants another catcher mainly due to the size of the incoming freshman class pitching staff. Two players, Ally Meyers and Anna Wise, committed during the early signing period. 

One of the challenges that comes with being in the state of Ohio is the amount of programs that are in the state. There are 10 Division I programs in the state, not to mention the teams in neighboring states. That creates a challenge for Hall and her coaching staff. 

“I think that it is just learning that we can compete with (Power Five schools) recruiting-wise and get talent that is at the same level as a Power Five school,” Hall said. “We want players that are on the cusp of that and are going to bring that special talent to this university and choose us because of what we have academically, what we have athletically and just the competitiveness of our program.” 


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