Buckeyes, ohio state, OSU, sports

Ohio State Softball Adds Sharonda McDonald To Staff

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Sharonda McDonald, a nine-year coaching veteran who most recently helped the University of Florida reach the Women’s College World Series finals, has been hired by Ohio State as an assistant coach. She will join the Buckeyes in August at the conclusion of her first season as head coach of the Chicago Bandits in the National Pro Fastpitch League (NPF).

“In every way, Sharonda fits what we’re looking for,” said Kovach Schoenly. “She’s been around championship-caliber teams both as a player and a coach and will have a great ability to connect with our student-athletes on and off the field. She’s widely respected in coaching circles and the combination of her experiences will enhance the positive momentum we’re experiencing at every level of the program. It was clear during this process that Ohio State attracts incredibly talented people, and Sharonda rose to the top of the group.”

With McDonald’s assistance, the Gators won the SEC regular season title in both 2016 and 2017, went 114-17 overall and appeared in the 2017 Women’s College World Series finals for the third time in the last four seasons. McDonald oversaw the development of the outfield, which included Amanda Lorenz, the program’s first-ever SEC and NFCA Freshmen of the Year. She also instructed slap hitters, base runners and served as the program’s recruiting coordinator, playing a vital role in the Gators securing two classes that were ranked in the top-10 nationally.

“I’m thrilled for this wonderful opportunity to join Ohio State and the Big Ten Conference,” said McDonald. “In making this decision, I was extremely impressed with the overall culture and direction of the program under Coach Schoenly’s leadership. I look forward to getting to campus and starting to work with the coaches, staff, and players.”

This summer, McDonald is serving as the head coach of one of NPFs perennial powers, the Chicago Bandits. No stranger to the league, McDonald spent six seasons playing professionally. In 2014, she finished her career with the USSSA Pride after playing the 2010-12 seasons for the Akron Racers and the 2007-08 seasons with the Philadelphia Force. In addition to the NPF, McDonald spent the 2009 season playing with the Fiorini Softball Club of the Italian Professional League.

A three-time All-NPF selection during her career, McDonald garnered the prestigious Diamond Spikes Award in 2012 after hitting .303 with 13 stolen bases while with the Racers. She ended the 2014 season with a career average over .270 to go along with more than 100 runs scored during her professional career.

The Houston Texas native made four collegiate coaching stops prior to arriving at Florida. In 2015, she served as an associate head coach at Texas Tech. In her one season in Lubbock, Texas, McDonald helped the Aggies finish the season with wins in a school-record four-straight Big XII series and nine of the last 12 games overall. Under her tutelage, outfielder Kristi Belshe made the All-Big XII second team.

As a volunteer assistant coach at LSU in 2013 and 2014, McDonald and the nationally-ranked Tigers made back to back NCAA Regional appearances. While coaching the outfield, McDonald developed A.J. Andrews into an All-American who was along the SEC and NCAA leaders in hits, batting average, and stolen bases.

McDonald spent three seasons (2010-12) as an assistant coach at Ohio University alongside Jenna Hall, who just completed her fifth season on Ohio State’s staff and serves as the Buckeyes’ hitting coach. McDonald and Hall contributed to the Bobcats winning the 2011 Mid-American Conference East Division and appearing in the 2011 MAC championship game. During her tenure, Ohio had six different players secure All-MAC accolades.

McDonald began her coaching career as an assistant coach for Texas Southern in 2009. Under her supervision, the Tigers more than doubled their stolen base output from the season before, sparked by Latrece Shello’s 17 steals.

A standout outfielder during her playing days for national power Texas A&M, McDonald played for the Aggies from 2004-07. In that time, she garnered NFCA All-Region honors three times and a quartet of All-Big 12 selections. She holds Aggie single-season records for runs scored (60) and stolen bases (48) and also ranks as the program’s all-time leader in both categories (195 runs, 153 stolen bases). Her 48 steals in 2005 led the nation and helped her earn the 2005 NCAA Division I Softball Golden Shoe Award awarded to the nation’s top baserunner.

McDonald holds A&M’s sixth-best career average at .338 and is second all-time with 249 hits. She also boasts the Aggies’ top three single-season stolen base marks and set a NCAA record by swiping 73 consecutive bases. As a senior in 2007, she led the Aggies back to the Women’s College World Series for the first time in 20 years.

McDonald received a bachelor’s degree in kinesiology from Texas A&M in 2008.

QUICK FACTS
• McDonald finished her professional playing career in 2014 by winning the Cowles Cup title for the USSSA Pride.
• McDonald garnered the NPF’s prestigious Diamond Spikes Award in 2012 after hitting .303 with 13 stolen bases while with the Akron Racers.
• Three teams from the SEC advanced to the Women’s College World Series and McDonald had ties to all three. She played at Texas A&M and coached at both LSU and Florida.
• As a both a player and a coach, McDonald has competed in eight NCAA Regionals, three NCAA Super Regionals and two Women’s College World Series.
• During her McDonald’s two seasons in Gainesville, Florida stole bases at a 86 percent clip (169-for-197) and led the nation in fielding percentage both years (.984 and .985, respectively).

The McDonald File
Season Position Notable
2017-present Head coach, Chicago Bandits Bandits have won four Cowles Cup titles
2016-2017 Assistant coach, University of Florida No. 1 national seed, WCWS finalist in ‘17
2015 Associate head coach, Texas Tech Won four of six Big 12 series
2013-14 Volunteer assistant coach, LSU 80 wins, two NCAA Regional appearances
2010-2012 Assistant Coach, Ohio University Coached six All-MAC selection
2009 Assistant coach, Texas Southern Tigers more than doubled stolen-base output
2004-2007 Center fielder, Texas A&M Aggies’ all-time runs, stolen bases leader
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sports

Girls Sports Concussion Rate On The Rise

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After a two-year extensive concussion study, the Michigan High School Athletic Association (MHSAA) reported on what they have learned from after having all MHSAA member high schools report suspected concussions and make follow-up reports for each.  First and foremost, concussions are of concern beyond football and boys. While football – the highest participation sport in the state– has had the most concussions, the sports that follow are girls basketball (second) and girls soccer (third).  Which leads to the second lesson found out in the study: Girls report two to three times as many concussions as boys in basketball and soccer, as well as in softball compared to baseball.

But why? Why do girls have such a high concussion rate considering boys sports have more physical contact, like football? There is the scientific theory that has to do with a female’s susceptibility to a migraine between puberty and menopause. During the child-bearing ages, females undergo considerable hormonal imbalance on a monthly basis in preparation for possible pregnancy. The female hormone Estradiol in particular reaches peak levels as the uterus becomes prepared for possible embryo implantation, and then drops precipitously if no implantation takes place. Estradiol fluctuation is one of the primary culprits in driving migraine. Before puberty and after menopause, males and females suffer with migraine equally. During child-bearing ages, females are about four times more likely to suffer with migraine.  As this goes, it may result in a girl’s hit to the head not being as serious looking as boys but may result in more devastating long lasting neurological dysfunction, ranging from visual loss to difficulty speaking to confusion to vertigo to loss of consciousness.

Scientists have also described spreading depression as an acute manifestation of concussion. Following an impact to the brain sufficient to cause a concussion, there are multiple areas of the brain that may develop spreading depression waves, and this may be an important contributing factor to concussion symptomatology. This also explains why concussion symptoms can worsen for hours following the inciting event. For female athletes during their child bearing years, there is a statistically increased likelihood that a female with migraine susceptibility will become concussed, and such females have a lower threshold to developing secondary spreading depression. In other words, females with migraine susceptibility are more vulnerable to developing worsened symptoms relative to their non-migraine counterpart. At present, the spreading depression hypothesis needs further scientific study; however, it is an intriguing explanation of male-female differences. Spreading depression may help to explain studies that demonstrate the following:

  • Female concussed athletes report more concussion symptoms than their male counterparts, including poor concentration, lightheadedness, increased fatigue, headache, and visual hallucinations such as seeing stars.
  • Female concussed athletes suffer with greater cognitive decline and slowed reaction time relative to males.
  • College female concussed athletes perform more poorly on BESS (Balance Error Scoring System) following concussion relative to males.

In addition to suffering with more concussion symptomatology, females have a higher rate of concussion compared to males when playing the following sports:

  • Soccer (2.1 x greater risk)
  • Softball versus baseball (up to 3.2 x greater risk)
  • Basketball (up to 1.7 x greater risk)

Studies have also demonstrated that females have more injuries due to player-surface contact and player-player equipment compared to males (males have more injuries from player-player contact compared to females). Females also may have a higher proportion of recurrent concussions compared to males. There may be factors beyond brain physiology that help explain these differences. One aspect of concussion is the biomechanical readiness of protecting the head from sudden acceleration-deceleration and rotational forces. From this framework, females may be at a disadvantage because they usually have less neck strength than males. This can translate into less ability to counteract mechanical forces that can cause head and neck acceleration-deceleration and rotation. Consider the following statistically significant difference in females compared to males when measuring head-neck strength components and concomitant acceleration forces:

  • Females have 25 percent less head-neck segment mass than males.
  • Females have 5 percent less head-neck segment length than males.
  • Females have 12 percent less neck girth than males.
  • Females have 50 percent less isometric neck flexor strength than males.
  • Females have 53 percent less isometric neck extensor strength than males.
  • Females have up to 44 percent greater head acceleration than males following contact, and have 10 percent greater head accelerations than males during non-contact.

Although there have been major positive changes in equipment and protection for athletes in sports, there needs to be more exploration done with female-male concussion differences. But in the meantime, we all need to spread the word: yes, female athletes also suffer with concussion, and they may be uniquely predisposed to this neurological event.

 

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Awards, Buckeyes, college, ohio state, OSU, sports

Ohio State’s Lilli Piper Earns All American Status In Softball

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Ohio State’s Star shortstop before the Big 10 Tournament

Ohio State’s Lilli Piper steps into the batter’s box against Michigan State in the Big 10 Softball tournament semi-final game. The sophomore from Norton Ohio, just southwest of Akron, falls behind in the count. As the Spartan pitcher serves up what she hopes is the final strike Lilli steps up into the pitch and puts it out of the park over the left-center field fence for a two-run homer and a big Ohio State lead.

“You can’t catch Lilli with the changeup, ” smiles the Buckeyes hitting coach Jenna Hall.  “You just can’t.”

This was just one of the many highlights of the young shortstop’s career thus far as a Buckeye earning her third team All-America honors from the National Fastpitch Coaches Association (NFCA). Lilli is the 12th Buckeye in the softball program’s history to earn the prestigious honor.

I’m so excited for Lilli to be recognized for her phenomenal year,” said head coach Kelly Kovach Schoenly. “Her stats were clearly worthy, but what I loved about Lilli this year was that she brought passion, energy and a love for the game that was contagious to our team. This is a fitting honor for a consistent, relentless competitor.”

Lilli emerged this season as one of the most dangerous hitters in the Big Ten. In 48 regular season games, she was third in the league in batting (.420) with 49 RBI, 44 runs scored, 16 home runs and a .784 slugging percentage. While stats from conference tournament and regional games are not included in the All-American voting, she continued her torrid pace in the postseason, hitting .438 with a pair of two-run home runs – including one in the Big Ten Tournament semifinals and another in the NCAA Tournament – to go along with a .813 slugging percentage. Her overall numbers included a .421 average, 18 home runs, 53 RBI, 47 runs scored, .787 slugging percentage and .436 on-base percentage.

A transfer from Akron where she played both basketball and softball for the Zips, Lilli set a program record for home runs by a newcomer and was just one shy of tying the single-season mark of 19 set by Sam Marder (2009) and Alex Bayne (2016). She had a team-high 24 multi-hit games and 15 multi-RBI games. Against RPI Top-75 teams (21 regular season games), she hit .429 with 23 RBI, eight home runs and 17 runs scored. Among the highlights was a career-high six RBI effort against Central Florida and a go-ahead home run in the seventh inning to clinch a series win at Illinois.

In 23 Big Ten games, Lilli batted .430 and slugged a conference-best 10 home runs while driving in 22 runs and scoring 24 times. Her overall numbers ranked among the top 10 in seven different offensive categories as she was a unanimous first team all-conference selection and first team all-region choice. In Ohio State’s record book, her .421 average is fourth-best in a single season, 53 RBI rank fifth and 75 hits and 18 home runs are tied for second most.

With Lilli’s help, Ohio State went 35-18, 15-8 in the Big Ten and earned its second consecutive at-large bid to the NCAA Tournament. The 35 overall wins and 15 in the Big Ten were both the most since 2010. After finishing third in the conference standings during the regular season, Ohio State advanced to the Big Ten Tournament championship game for the first time in 10 years. Lilli was one of nine All-America choices from Big Ten programs, the third most of any conference.

Lilli is the daughter of Gary and Ronda Piper and her Aunt Kay Piper was a two-sport athlete (softball and volleyball) at Akron from 1982-85.

Batting

 

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Jackson High School to join SEC White starting in 2018-19 school year

Jackson High School has been seeking a new athletic conference to join, and it now has one. The Jackson School Board voted unanimously to approve the switch from the Capital Area Activites Conference (CAAC) to the Southeastern Conference White Divison for all Jackson High sports teams beginning in the 2018-19 school year.

The SEC White, a six-school league in 2016-17, will add Pinckney to the conference for the 2017-18 year before Jackson makes it an eight-team league the following season.  Jackson’s enrollment of 1,246 would make it the third-largest school in the SEC White. In addition to newcomer Pinckney (1,279), the SEC White includes Adrian (794), Chelsea (867), Dexter (1,146), Tecumseh (832), Ypsilanti (1,115) and Ypsilanti Lincoln (1,404).

The Red Division includes Ann Arbor Huron (1,589), Ann Arbor Pioneer (2,055), Ann Arbor Skyline (1,752), Monroe (2,046), Saline (1,923) and Temperance Bedford (1,597). There are no plans for expanding the SEC Red.

The CAAC consists of eight teams, seven of which are considered Lansing area. The SEC White will have eight teams, each of which has its own geographic region.

“Each school (in the SEC) has its own sense of community,” Jackson High Athletic Director Jack Fairly said earlier this month. “The CAAC has been good to us, but being from the Jackson area, we’re down here by ourselves. Teams in (the SEC) all have their own community, whereas the CAAC was really a greater-Lansing conference and then us.”

Joining a conference that didn’t increase travel was also an important dynamic. The distance between Jackson and every school in the SEC White ranges from 26-51 miles while the distance between Jackson and the CAAC schools ranged from 32-49 miles. Additionally, the annual SEC league fee is $700, compared to $3,125 in the CAAC.

Starting this fall in 2017 Pinckney comes back to the SEC after it left in to join the Kensington Lakes Activities Association (KLAA) in 2000. The Pirates held rivalries with Dexter and Chelsea, as well as Tecumseh, still playing an annual basketball game with the Dreadnaughts.

Pinckney was looking for a good conference fit and as their enrollment falls they will be on pace with several of the other schools in the SEC White.
 “We’re joining a conference where schools have some of the strongest programs in the state,” Pinckney Athletic Director Brian Wardlow said. “But it does allow us to get back into a more level playing field and against some of our neighbors. This seemed like a natural fit, even on more levels than athletics.”
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sports

MHSAA Accepting Registrations For Officials

The Michigan High School Athletic Association is accepting registrations by mail and online for game officials for the 2017-18 school year.

The MHSAA annually receives registration by more than 9,500 officials and had 9,834 during the 2016-17 school year. The highest total of officials registered for basketball, 4,137, with football and baseball both with more than 2,000 registered officials during this past school year.

For all new and returning officials, those who register online again will receive a $5 discount off their processing fees. A $15 fee is charged for each sport in which an official wishes to register, and the online processing fee is $35. Officials submitting registration forms by mail or on a walk-up basis will incur a $40 processing fee. Officials registered in 2016-17 will be assessed a late fee of $30 for registration after July 31. The processing fee includes liability insurance coverage up to $1 million for officials while working contests involving MHSAA schools.

Online registration can be accessed by clicking “Officials” on the home page of the MHSAA Website at www.mhsaa.com. Forms also are available online that can be printed and submitted by traditional mail or hand delivery to the MHSAA Office. More information about officials registration may be obtained by contacting the MHSAA at 1661 Ramblewood Drive, East Lansing, MI, 48823, by phone at (517) 332-5046 or by e-mail at register@mhsaa.com.

There is an officials’ registration test for first-time officials and officials who were not registered during the past school year. The test consists of 45 questions derived from the MHSAA Officials Guidebook, which also is available on the Officials page of the MHSAA Website. Additional 50-question exams must be taken by those registering for football or basketball for the first time or those who were not registered for those sports during the previous school year. Manuals for both sports also are available on the Officials page. New officials and those who didn’t officiate during 2016-17 also must complete the online MHSAA Principles of Officiating course, also available on the MHSAA Website.

The MHSAA is a private, not-for-profit corporation of voluntary membership by more than 1,400 public and private senior high schools and junior high/middle schools which exist to develop common rules for athletic eligibility and competition. No government funds or tax dollars support the MHSAA, which was the first such association nationally to not accept membership dues or tournament entry fees from schools. Member schools which enforce these rules are permitted to participate in MHSAA tournaments, which attract more than 1.4 million spectators each year. 

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Chelsea’s Ronnie Buford Announces College Commitment

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Chelsea Bulldog Ronnie Buford picks off a pass in his junior season

The Chelsea High School football team has produced yet another great young athlete to commit to a Division 1 college as Junior Ronnie Buford announced that he has officially committed to Western Michigan University (WMU) to continue his football career.

Ronnie has committed to the Broncos as a defensive end, where he excelled for the 11-1 Bulldogs team in 2016. The 6 foot 4 inch Buford also excels on the basketball court where he and his Bulldog teammates won the Districts in their division last season.  Buford moved recently to Chelsea from Ann Arbor where he was the starting quarterback for Skyline, but he was moved to defensive end for the Bulldogs where they could take advantage of his size and speed.

“The adjustment from offense to defense wasn’t a real big deal to me,” Ronnie stated. “It was a smooth transition because I understood both offensive and defensive schemes and learned quickly what my coaches were teaching me.”

Many colleges noticed Ronnie’s play in his first year on defense and were interested in him and he and his family visited many of them to get a feel for the community and check out the academics to see if the fit was right for him. Ronnie took his time and with the help of his loving family, friends, and coaches finally decided on his gridiron home for the 2018 season.

“The decision was hard, yet easy. We went to many places but when we went to WMU I just knew I wanted to be a Bronco after the first unofficial visit,” Ronnie stated. “As soon as I stepped foot on the Bronco’s football field,  I just had this feeling that I had at no other visit! It was a confirmation feeling like I belonged there.”

Ronnie also gives much credit to the WMU coaches for making him and his family feel comfortable on their visit.

“They treated me and my family so nice,” Ronnie said. “They were extremely good to my little brother and I could tell this was a great, solid family organization like Chelsea football is. And that’s what I’m all about, family.”

Ronnie plans to major in Business and get a minor in civil engineering while enjoying all the community of Kalamazoo and WMU have to offer. Ronnie is the son of Willie Buford, and Shallis and Laura Mask.

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Chelsea Student-Athletes Make History

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Senior Jack Bush poses with the Chelsea basketball district championship trophy

Chelsea High School is known for its academics. It was recently listed by the U.S. News as the 7th ranked school in the state of Michigan, the only public school to crack the top 10. That’s an excellent ranking since there are over 1,500 high schools in Michigan. Nationally it was listed number 554 out of almost 40,000 high schools! The student body of Chelsea have a 56% ranking in Advanced Placement classes and have very high test scores. Not too shabby for a town of just over 5,000 people.

But academics isn’t all Chelsea is about. They put a good focus on athletics and encourage all students to participate and many of the students will play more than 1 sport. The athletic department is strong and solid and many students go on to earn sports scholarships for Division 1 schools,  and some even have gone on to play professional sports.

This year, a few students have done something that hasn’t been done in quite a while and is very rare for most student athletes. Jack Bush, Hunter Neff, Quinn Starkey, Thomas Steele, and Alex Vasquez have all etched their names in the Chelsea record books as they are among the few student-athletes in the long history of Chelsea sports that have won 3 district championships in one year!

Bush was the starting quarterback for Chelsea the past couple seasons and was a key element of leading the Bulldogs to the MHSAA Class B state championship in 2015. He also started for the basketball team and this year’s baseball team which just clinched a district title last Saturday. Bush will attend Hope College in the fall where he will look to carry on his illustrious football career.

Neff was a part of this years football, and baseball team, and was called up for the districts in basketball.

Starkey played on the basketball team, the baseball team, and was called up for the Districts in football.

Steele was the Bulldogs leading rusher in football last season as well as winning a district championship with the Bulldogs hockey team. He also will be on the field looking for a regional title in baseball, after sealing up a district championship last weekend.

Vasquez starred at end for the Bulldogs football team this past season and was also a part of the state championship runner-ups in 2015. He used his size and strength to help the Bulldogs win districts not only on the gridiron, but on the basketball court, and for this year’s baseball team. Vasquez will be taking his talents to Michigan State University in the fall.

The Bulldogs baseball team will head to Carleton-Airport on June 10th where they will be taking on the South Lyon East Cougars and will be looking to win the regional playoff and help bring more hardware to Chelsea, the city of champions.

 

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