Updated Thu, Feb 27, 2014 7:31 pm
Ohio head coach Jodi Hermanek and the Bobcats have had an exceptional start to the season, going 12-1 for the best start in the program’s history, but Ohio will take on two top-25 teams and three other teams with winning records when they travel to Gulfport, Miss., for the Mississippi Gulf Coast Softball Classic.
The Bobcats open the weekend with their first major challenge of the Classic, facing off against No. 19 South Alabama (11-1) on Friday, Feb. 28, at 3 p.m. then turning around and playing Chattanooga (8-6) at 6 p.m.
Ohio will have little time to rest, as it will play two more games Saturday, facing off against Texas State (11-5) at 11:30 a.m. and battling No. 22 Louisiana Lafayette (9-5-1). The Bobcats will wrap up their weekend festivities with a single game against undefeated Mississippi State (14-0) at 10 a.m. on Sunday.
The bats have been hot for Ohio this season, as the team has hit a combined .322 and has averaged 5.2 runs a game, including a dominant 10-7 showing against UNC Greensboro on Feb. 8.
Players from all over the team have stepped up including Adrienne Gebel, Alexandria Basquez, and Madison Claytor.
Gebele and Claytor are both hitting above .400 this season and have led the Bobcats offensively, while Basquez owns a team-high 11 RBIs.
Gebele recently won Mid-American Conference East Division Player of the Week after batting a team-best .556 with a .778 slugging percentage during the Frost Classic.
The Annapolis, Md., native currently holds a batting average of .476 and a .511 on-base percentage and has smacked a team-high 10 hits and four doubles while tying the team lead with four RBIs.
Ohio has been strong on the pitching end as well, with two ace pitchers in the form of Lauren McClary and Savannah Jo Dorsey.
McClary received her fifth MAC East Pitcher of the Week award after going 2-0 with a save, while fanning 16 over 14.2 innings of work at the Frost Classic.
She put in a strong showing in the Bobcats’ 5-2 win over Austin Peay on Friday, Feb. 21, for her first win of the 2014 season and followed up this performance with eight strikeouts in the 3-2 win over Middle Tennessee State on Saturday, Feb. 22.
Dorsey also took home the MAC East Pitcher of the Week a week before McClary. She is 9-1 in 11 appearances on the diamond and has five starts this season. She has tossed five complete games and has struck out 66 opponents in 57.1 innings.
Ohio will need to be at its best over the next week, as it also opens up its midweek play of 2014 over three days in Nashville, Tenn. The Bobcats face Tennessee State on Tuesday, March 4, at 6 p.m. and then take on Lipscomb in a doubleheader on Wednesday, March 5, at 3 p.m.