Updated Thu, Apr 18, 2013 3:04 pm
Ohio catcher Lauren Gellerman has gotten most of, if not all of, the attention as the Bobcats' best hitter this season. And probably for good reason. Her 17 home runs, batting average that sits around .400 and program records speak for themselves.
Lost in her success, however, is the success of her teammate, Caitlin Colvin.
Ohio’s first baseman is having a big season in her own right. As of Thursday, her batting average stands at .259 with a near .700 slugging percentage, 24 runs and 31 RBI. Her 15 home runs were 10th most in D-I softball as of April 14, according to NCAA.com, and her home run and RBI totals are second only to Gellerman on the team.
On April 5, in a game against Toledo, Colvin belted two home runs that were her 14th and 15th of the season. At the time, the two blasts surpassed the record for home runs hit in a season in Ohio softball history. Just four days later, Colvin was passed by none other than Lauren Gellerman.
Both Colvin and Gellerman have gone back and forth several times this season as the home run leader on the team. As close as they have been all season, they insist they have not turned being the team’s home run leader into a competition.
“We don’t really have any smack talk going on at all. We’re both happy for each other all the time,” Gellerman says.
“We’ve been roommates for four years so I think that we’re pretty chill with each other,” Colvin says. We just like to chill and hit together and it’s awesome that we can come out our senior year and do as well as we are.”
Colvin notes that if any competition has formed from the pair’s success, it stems from their teammates wanting Colvin and Gellerman to outdo one another.
“I’m pretty sure that back and forth they’re always yelling at us to beat each other,” Colvin says.
Colvin says the two are especially close and that being roommates has helped them improve on the field.
“We hit together a lot and we try and help each other in any way we can,” she says. In addition, Ohio’s first baseman says that her roommate’s calm demeanor has helped her stay calm at the plate.
Colvin’s success might be a bit surprising to the casual fan, especially because she pitched for three years for Ohio prior to becoming the everyday starter at first.
Colvin pitched 143.2 innings in her first three years as a Bobcat. As a hitter in that time, she accumulated just 78 at-bats, 11 hits and three home runs. In just this season so far, the senior has already been at the plate for 112 at-bats and 29 hits.
Colvin says her experience as a pitcher helps her perform better in the batter’s box.
“I know what I would do if I was a pitcher pitching to me,” Colvin says. “It helps me think about what other teams are trying to get me to do and sometimes I can use that to my advantage. I felt the pressure as a pitcher, I know what it’s like to be on the other side and I think that helps me be able to be smooth in the box because they are under more pressure than I am.”
So just how did Colvin become her team’s starting first baseman this season? Ohio Softball coach Jodi Hermanek has the answer.
“We have four (pitchers) on staff, her included, and we came into January having some transitions go on in the infield,” Hermanek says. “We needed to shift Raven King over to third base, and my next line of good defense (at first was) Caitlin Colvin.”
According to Hermanek, Colvin’s experience fielding as a pitcher made her a viable candidate to take the first base spot because of instances that a pitcher may have to cover first base. Hermanek says that she is very pleased with Colvin’s defensive game, but her hitting has been indispensible this season.
“With her bat you’ll find a place in the lineup,” Hermanek says. “She can play shortstop for me with that bat if I didn’t have a shortstop.”
Colvin sys that she came into the fall last season not knowing what her role with the Bobcats would be.
“I wanted to help my team anywhere that I could and I knew that if I wasn’t going to be in the circle I wanted to be hitting,” she says. “I really focused on my hitting and I really focused on trying to get in that lineup consistently whether it was a DH or whether it was pitching.”
When Colvin was notified that she was wanted at first base, she got to work.
“I took hitting more seriously and zoned in on that. If I wanted to play every inning, I have to be able to hit, I have to be able to contribute to the team,” Colvin says.
Coach Hermanek says that she did not expect Colvin to become the full-time first baseman right away, but her production spoke for itself. Her coach attributes that production to the former pitcher’s work ethic.
“I think one of the biggest assets to her success this season has been just a lot of hard work,” Hermanek says. “In the fall and winter she spent endless hours in the cages and it has really paid off … I’m proud of her.”
Colvin says that in the off-season she changed her hitting style. She says that she started over from the basics with the help of her hitting coach, Taylor Schlopy. The lessons from Schlopy have given Colvin and her teammates confidence.
“That allowed me to step up to the plate and know that I’m going to hit whatever is thrown at me,” Colvin says.
According to Hermanek, her first baseman always comes in to practice early and leaves late. She says that Colvin often throws extra batting practice to her teammates and that she always comes fresh to the field no matter the result from the day before.
Hermanek says that Colvin will do anything to help out her team. She recalls a situation four years ago when the Bobcats lost two catchers to injury. Their third baseman filled in the catcher role and then the team no longer had a catcher in the bullpen. To help her team, Colvin, who was a freshman at the time, took over the bullpen catcher duties.
“I think that I’ve worked really hard to get where I am,” Colvin says. “I’m proud of my team and proud that I can step on the field everyday and know that I can contribute in some way.”
Colvin’s hard work has helped develop a potent bat -- a bat that causes problems for the opposition.
“It makes for a pitching battle that I wouldn’t want to be in if I was the opposing team,” Hermanek says. “You don’t want to throw to Lauren Gellerman whatsoever. You have that comfort of knowing that you have a kid like Caitlin Colvin behind (Lauren) who is going to produce for us more times than not.”
Gellerman says it best: “(They) have to decide what home run hitter they want to pitch to.”
“(Caitlin) is going to come out on top when they pitch around Gelly to get to her,” Hermanek adds. “I wouldn’t want to but that’s not my call.”