Buckeyes, ohio state, OSU, sports

Ohio State Softball Adds Sharonda McDonald To Staff

_gallery_dl_photos_361_SharondaMcDonaldDL

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
Standard
sports

Girls Sports Concussion Rate On The Rise

multisport-athletes

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.

 

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

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

lilli2

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

 

Standard