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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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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Buckeyes, ohio state, OSU, sports

Ohio State Extends Softball Head Coach Kovach-Schoenly’s Contract

 

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Buckeyes Head Coach Kelly Kovach-Schoenly (left) hugs hitting coach Jenna Hall to celebrate the Buckeyes going to the Big 10 championship game  

 

After five seasons with the Buckeyes, Softball Head Coach Kelly Kovach-Schoenly received a contract extension through 2020. Coming into this season, she had led the Buckeyes to 128 wins, including nine over top-25 opponents. In 2016, Ohio State appeared in its first NCAA Regional game since 2010.

“Coach Kovach Schoenly has done a terrific job with the softball program over the past five years and we’re very excited to reward her with a contract extension,” said Shelton. “The program is in a good place as athletes have excelled in the classroom, on the field with back to back NCAA bids and in the community with increased fan support. This is a clear sign that it’s heading in an upward trajectory. Coach Kelly and her staff have built a solid foundation for continued future success.”

“I am grateful that [athletic director] Gene Smith and [OSU associate athletics director for sports administration] TJ Shelton have offered this contract extension to continue to coach for a program and university that I love,” Kovach Schoenly told OSU Athletics. “Ohio State is where I want to be, with this group of incredible ladies, for as long as they’ll have me. I thoroughly enjoy developing young woman through sport to be ready to leave this place and go conquer the world.”

Kovach Schoenly, in her fifth year with the Buckeyes since arriving from Miami University, has more wins (163) than any coach in program history during the first five years of their respective tenures. She has twice led the Buckeyes to NCAA Tournament appearances and last week guided the Scarlet and Gray to its first Big Ten Tournament championship game in 10 years. Overall, she’s 163-105-1 with a 63-51-1 mark in Big Ten play since taking over the program in 2013. In her 11th year as a head coach, she’s won 30 or more games for eight consecutive years. Kovach Schoenly also became the fastest coach in program history to reach 100 wins and also reached 300 career wins last season.

Although Kovach Schonely is a Michigan graduate, she is a proud Buckeye through and through and loves to sport the scarlet and gray colors which the Buckeyes have made famous.  She has helped to boost the OSU fan support, and Ohio State set a single-game attendance record April 9 when 1,836 people watched the Buckeyes defeat her alma mater, 5-0, although there were hundreds more lined up outside looking over the fences.

Kovach Schoenly’s 2017 Buckeyes are 35-18 overall, the most wins in a single season since 2010. Her 2015 squad set school records for batting average, home runs and runs scored, while the 2016 Buckeyes were third in the Big Ten in overall earned run average and had five pitchers with an ERA of 3.00 or less.  They also finished 15-8 in the Big Ten for the highest conference finish in seven years. She’s coached 13 All-Big Ten selections, nine NFCA All-Midwest Region choices and one All-American (Cammi Prantl, the program’s first in six years).

In the classroom, 18 student-athletes finished the 2016-17 academic year with a 3.0 or better grade-point average. In 2014, the program had five Big Ten Distinguished Scholars – the most of any softball team in the conference.

“I love playing for coach because she’s always pushing us to be better, both on and off the field,” said sophomore Lilli Piper, who currently leads the team with a .424 average, 17 home runs, and 51 RBI. “She’s shown us that we can compete and win at a high level all while having a lot of fun. We’ve got great things happening for us now and she’s our leader.”

Currently, the Buckeyes are set to play South Carolina Upstate in the Knoxville regional of the NCAA tournament Friday at 4:30 p.m. ET.

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Buckeyes, college, ohio state, OSU, sports

Oho State Powers Its Way Over Wisconsin in Big 10 Softball Tournament

 

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Emily Clark Tags Out a Badger At Second

 

After watching their arch rivals Michigan get upset by the Michigan State Spartans, the Ohio State Buckeyes took the field to square off against a very tough Wisconsin Badgers team. The third-seeded Buckeyes had Shelby Hursh on the mound and she pitched a great game striking out a season-high 10 players and having some great defensive help behind her to secure a hard fought 3-2 victory at Alumni Field in Ann Arbor.

All three Ohio State runs crossed the plate in the bottom of the third. It started when Ashley Goodwin laced a one-out single to left field and the next batter, Becca Gavin, followed with a double to left field, moving Goodwin to third. After a strikeout, a critical error at first base on a ground ball by Bri Betschel allowed both Goodwin and Gavin to score, giving the Buckeyes an early 2-0 lead. Senior Anna Kirk then drove in what would prove to be the winning run as she singled to center, allowing Betschel to cross the plate.

The score would remain 3-0 until the top of the sixth when Wisconsin would finally break through against Hursh. After a line out, two infield singles and ground out, Stephanie Lombardo singled off the center field wall, but White threw her out as she attempted to stretch the single into a double. The hit, however, scored two runs to make the score 3-2.

Hursh’s 10 strikeouts are just three off her career high set on April 6 of last season in a no-hitter against Penn State. She’s just seven strikeouts shy of 500 for her career. A second team All-Big Ten selection earlier this week, she’s now 15-5 on the season with a 2.28 ERA and 113 strikeouts in 125.2 innings.

Goodwin, Gavin, and First Team all Big Ten sophomore Lilli Piper each had 3 hits on the night for the Buckeyes. This game catapulted the Buckeyes into a semifinal showdown with the Spartans.

 

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Hockey’s Ronnie Hein, From Bulldog To Buckeye

 

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 Chelsea Michigan & Ohio State’s Ronnie Hein    

Ronnie Hein takes a pass from his new teammates Miguel Fidler and Josh Healey in only his second regular season game for his new college team, the Ohio State Buckeyes.  His team is down by a goal against Air Force as they play in the Icebreaker tournament in Denver Colorado. Hein takes the pass and buries it past Air Force first team all-star netminder Shane Starrett. The crowd erupts, especially his parents and grandparents who are in attendance. Hein pumps his fist in celebration and hugs his linemates as he takes it all in, his first goal in Division one hockey, the first of many more to come.

“That was definitely the best moment of my college career,” Hein stated. “It was definitely a very cool moment.”

Hein has been playing hockey since he was 4 years old. He tried other sports but hockey was and is his first love. Before he came to Ohio State he was committed to Ferris State and played two seasons with the Waterloo Iowa Black Hawks in the USHL where he had 49 points, with 14 goals and 35 assists, in 57 regular season games. His squad reached the USHL Clark Cup conference finals where he had seven points (3g, 4a) in nine playoff games.

Hein grew up in Chelsea, Michigan, a really close, tight-knit community located only 15 minutes from the OSU Buckeyes biggest rivals, the Michigan Wolverines. When asked about becoming a Buckeye coming from Wolverine territory Hein says, “it’s not that bad.”

“I got a few jokes here and there when I first signed with Ohio State but not so much anymore,” Hein said. “I think most everyone is just happy with what I’ve accomplished so far and are very proud of me playing for a Big 10 school, even if it is the Buckeyes.”

Hein had 5 goals and 6 assist in 16 games and was seeing lots of ice time and winning a high percentage of faceoffs his freshman year before a season-ending injury occurred against the Buckeyes arch-rivals in Ann Arbor. In the second period, he tore his hip flexor.

“My freshman year experience has been bittersweet for sure,” says Hein. “The first half of the season was great for me and the team! We were having a very successful season and it was hard to have to sit out the rest of the way.  As tough as it was not playing, it was still nice to be around the guys and the rink everyday. Now that I’ve gotten past both surgeries, my only goal is to be back by the start of next season and be better than I was this previous year. I have a lot of rehab and work to do this summer.”

The Buckeyes had a very successful season, making it to the Regional Semi-finals but then fell to Minnesota-Duluth 3-2 in overtime. Minnesota-Duluth is a very tough team, making it to the Frozen Four where they will face off against Harvard on April 6th in search of their second title.

The Buckeyes will be graduating 7 seniors next season but will be bringing back many underclassmen including leading scorer Mason Jobst and of course Hein, who will hopefully be healed in time to show off his speed and great two-way forward skills.

Hein hasn’t picked a college major yet but is leaning towards real estate or sports industry. As a freshman, he still has plenty of time to decide on that.  Hein plans to spend his summer back home in Chelsea and do a lot of golfing and just laying around on the lake mostly. Ronnie is the son of Larry and Tracy and has two younger siblings Ryan, and Rachel.

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Buckeyes, chelsea, chelsea high school, college, hockey, ohio state, OSU, sports

Ohio State Hockey Gets Split In Ann Arbor

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Buckeyes forward John Witala celebrates his team’s first goal of the game by Tanner Lacyznski in the second period. 

Yost Ice Arena, Ann Arbor, Michigan: On Friday night the 11th ranked Ohio State Buckeyes hockey team rolled into Ann Arbor to take on their bitter rivals. Michigan has been having an off year in hockey this season having only won 1 game in conference play, and only 8 overall. The Buckeyes are the second best scoring team in the nation averaging 4 goals a game, only trailing Penn State in that category. They are the only two teams in the nation averaging 4 goals a game or above.

Michigan was well rested coming off a bye week while the Buckeyes just lost two tough games to Wisconsin, one in overtime at Madison Square Garden in New York City.

Both teams came strong out of the gate trading several hits in front of a raucous crowd. At the 8:21 mark it was Michigan’s Evan Allen who was able to beat Buckeye netminder Christian Frey. The 1-0 lead held up until, with  33 seconds left in the period, the Wolverines Adam Winborg was able to score his 5th goal of the season, helping the Wolverines go into the break with a 2-0 lead.

Michigan came out strong in the second period keeping the Buckeyes shots to a minimum and at the 6:47 mark local boy Cooper Marody scored his first goal of the year. But The Buckeyes are a tenacious team with a never say die attitude and fought back drawing a penalty to the Wolverines  catching them on a big mistake with too many men on the ice. The Buckeyes were able to take advantage as near the end of the power play Tanner Laczynski was able to net his 7th of the year with help from his teammates Matt Miller & Matt Joyaux. Lazcynski, from Shorewood, Illinois is having an outstanding freshman season.

But things got bad fast as Marody scored two more goals in the period for the hat trick and a big 5-1 Michigan lead going into the third. The Buckeyes were getting badly outshot at this point and their Head Coach Steve Rohlik would have to make some serious adjustments.

Whatever Rohlik told his boys in the locker room worked because before you couldn’t even blink after the referee dropped the puck in the faceoff,  it was the captain Nick Schilkey getting the big goal only 6 seconds in! He was assisted by Mason Jobst, who with that point kept his 11 consecutive game point streak alive.

After the faceoff, it was the Buckeyes Miguel Fidler putting the puck in the back of the net giving the Buckeyes 2 goals in just 23 seconds!!! The Florida Panther prospect was assisted by Schilkey and Jobst.

The Buckeyes played more aggressively in the third and were able to beat the Wolverine netminder once more on the power play, silencing the crowd and cutting the lead to only 5-4,  after Dearborn Michigan native Dakota Joshua picked up his 5th goal of the season assisted by defenseman Gordi Myer and Schilkey.

The teams went back and forth with the Buckeyes getting good chances, but the comeback stalled out there giving Michigan the 5-4 victory. Both teams had 7 penalties on the night while the Buckeyes were outshot 38-29 while they dominated in the faceoff circle with Jobst winning 15 and Joshua winning 9.  Local Buckeye from Chelsea Ronnie Hein won 2 faceoffs and had 2 big shots on goal in limited playing time as he was injured during the game.

Game 2: On Saturday the two teams squared off again. This time it was the Buckeyes striking first on the power play as Schilkey netted his 19th goal of the season assisted by Jobst and Myer. Schilkey’s great play is why many people have him in the conversation for the Hobey Baker award.

But Michigan came back 4 minutes later with Marody scoring unassisted. Dakota Joshua answered back 2 minutes later assisted by David Gust & Sasha Laroocque. But then the Wolverines went on a tear scoring 3 goals in a row and with the early part of the second period had a big 4-1 lead. But the Buckeyes were in this very predicament the night before and didn’t roll over and weren’t about to tonight either.

Halfway through the period with Michigan’s James Sanchez off for a cross check, Jobst scored his 11th of the season assisted by Myer and Gubst. There were plenty of penalties to this point and the game was getting very chippy. There were several slashes and trips from the U of M players and at the 7:18 mark of the second period 4 players went off for unsportsmanlike conduct calls. Let’s face it, these two schools are bitter rivals and it shows.

Michigan added another goal to take a 5-2 lead but from the end of the second period on it was all Buckeyes as they skated away from Michigan defenders, laid out great hits, and were able to entice the Wolverines to take dumb penalties leading to Buckeye goals, as they took advantage of the power play. John Wiitala got his 9th goal of the year to cut into the lead then Jobst scored his 12th of the season the power play to tie it up.

Both teams went back and forth as Ohio State netminder Matt Tomkins, who subbed in for Frey in the 2nd, stood tall, making many outstanding saves. It looked like the regulation time was going to expire in a tie until the Captain Schilkey blasted a shot past the Wolverine goaltender Hayden Lavigne for the go ahead goal with only 30 seconds left! The Wolverines pulled Lavigne but couldn’t get a handle on the puck as the Buckeyes took a huge 6-5 victory over their rivals.

Mason Jobst was the first star of the game as the Speedway Indiana native finished he night with 2 goals and 2 assist. The Captain Nick Schilkey received the third star for 2 goals and 1 assist on the night, including the big game winning goal, his 20th of the season.

The Buckeyes are 13-7-6 overall on the season and 4-5-1v in conference play. They will play again  Friday and Saturday, February 10th and 11th, when they host the Minnesota Golden Gophers.

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