Updated Thu, Mar 6, 2014 4:40 pm
After getting off to a sizzling start, the Ohio Bobcats have wilted over their last seven games, and head into Louisville without much going for them. The ‘Cats will continue a long stretch of games at this weekend’s Red and Black Classic.
Ohio takes on the likes of Ohio State, Illinois State, Massachusetts and Louisville twice over the course of three days.
This classic will be the last of a long string of nonconference road games at invitationals throughout the South for the Ohio softball team.
Friday’s 12 p.m. game with the Ohio State Buckeyes will feature two teams on losing skids, the Bobcats with their seven-game skid and the Buckeyes who are losers of three straight.
Ohio State is led offensively by Caitlin Conrad, Evelynn Carrillo and Erika Leonard, all three of whom are batting at least .333 with nine RBIs or more.
The Buckeyes sport a strong team ERA of 3.88 and have four pitchers who are capable of starting games on the mound.
Ohio State defeated Ohio twice in a doubleheader in 2013 by scores of 4-2 and 6-1.
Later in the day at 4 p.m., Ohio gets the 6-13 Illinois State Redbirds, who are coming off four losses against ranked teams in the Diamond 9 Citrus Classic in Florida.
Illinois State has had its fair share of problems scoring runs, as only one player on the ‘Birds squad has posted a .300 average, with that being senior first baseman/outfielder Lauren Canopy. Canopy was just named Missouri Valley Conference Player or The Week.
Jordan de los Reyes provides the pop in the Illinois State lineup, coming in leading the team in home runs, RBIs, total bases and slugging percentage.
Ohio has a good chance of facing either Regan Romshek or Taylor Baxter on the mound, the two of whom have combined for all of the team’s starts in the circle in 2014.
The Massachusetts Minutemen will greet Ohio on Saturday morning in a 10 a.m. duel. Massachusetts comes in likely a bit rustier than Ohio, as they have only played five games this season after having its first five games cancelled. In those five games, the Minutemen compiled a record of 1-4 with their only victory coming against Connecticut.
Pitcher Caroline Raymond has four of the team’s five decisions, and has gone 1-3 in that span. She is coming off a poor performance against Hofstra, in which she was shelled while giving up eight earned runs on 16 hits.
Louisville then takes on Ohio on its home diamond at 3 p.m. They also square off on Sunday at 5:30 p.m.
Luckily for the Ohio softball squad, this Louisville team has not enjoyed as much success in softball as they have in basketball and football. Ohio will look to avoid the embarrassing performances turned in by the Bobcat football and women’s basketball teams.
The Cardinals are 8-6 in 2014 and are 4-1 at home. Thanks to cancellations in California, the Cards have not played since Feb. 23. Louisville is averaging 4.7 runs a game, which jumped thanks to the Cardinals’ first double digit run performances of the season in wins over Northern Kentucky and IUPUI at the Cardinal Classic.
Ohio’s offensive woes have hurt them in this recent stretch of losses. Several Bobcat starters have begun to come back down to earth after incredible starts to the season offensively. Freshmen like Madison Claytor and Casie Hutchinson are starting to play a bit more like freshmen, not poor, but a bit more toward the average first-year player.
Adrienne Gebele is still providing a consistent bat in the lineup with her .400 batting average, which has actually fallen as of late.
The ‘Cats will have to return to form offensively if they are to steal a few this weekend.
That, or Savannah Jo Dorsey and Lauren McClary will have to jump into overdrive on the mound and mow down opposing hitters like they have shown themselves fully capable. Dorsey now has fanned 101 batters in 91 innings while owning a record of 9-5 after starting the season 9-1.