The Ohio University softball team will take the field for the first time this year on Sept. 29 in Columbus, Ohio. The real opposition, however, will not be on the field with them, it will not be in uniform, and it will not try to score runs against them.
The Bobcats will be playing against Wright State in the first game of the Ohio Collegiate Charity Classic (OCCC) to benefit the fight against breast cancer.
“The team in the other dugout is a formality to let us play. This is about getting players on the field and … a lot of appreciation for something bigger than us,” said Ohio head softball coach Jodi Hermanek.
All proceeds from the OCCC go to the Stefanie Spielman Fund for Breast Cancer Research at the Arthur G. James Cancer Hospital and Richard J. Solove Research Institute at Ohio State.
A total of 14 teams will play exhibition games against each other, with a $5 general admission price that will be donated directly to the charity. The tournament has amassed over $160,000 in the name of breast cancer research over the last 11 years.
In addition to the financial resources it generates for a worthy cause, the tournament also gives Ohio the chance to see its team in a game situation for the first time this year.
“Three games [in a day] is a grind,” said Hermanek. “But this is just about getting people reps in different spots, about watching how the newcomers perform and seeing what kind of veteran leadership we have.”
Ohio will play Wright State, Ohio Dominican, and the host college, Ohio State, within four hours of each other on Saturday. The Bobcats’ depth will be tested right off the bat.
With the exhibition rules allowing each team 10 batters in the lineup, and three substitutions per game, Hermanek and the rest of the coaching staff should have ample opportunity to see players produce from different positions.
“This is about seeing athletes in different spots, challenging people,” said Hermanek. “Then we can see what we need to work on in practice, where we stand in the teaching realm.”
With each team bringing items to raffle off, and a survivor of cancer speaking to the teams collectively, the focus of the weekend is clearly less on softball and more on humanitarian efforts. The goal of the event is to relieve the suffering faced by just under 12 percent of women in the United States
With their participation in the OCCC and several community service projects scheduled for October and November, the Bobcats’ season off the field can already be deemed a success.
On Sept. 29, Ohio will receive an indication of how their on-field season will go as well.