Around the Oval is Eleven Warriors' weekly love letter to Ohio State sports that don't get the coverage they should.
What a week it was for Ohio State athletics, highlighted by the men's tennis team winning a national title. The Buckeyes are now ranked as the No. 1 team in the nation in the ITA (Intercollegiate Tennis Association) rankings and senior Peter Kobelt was recognized as the Big Ten athlete of the week.
In singles action, Kobelt defeated three ranked opponents, including No. 3 Mitchell Frank of Virginia and No. 7 Ray Sarmiento of USC.
In doubles, the duo of Kobelt and Kevin Metka defeated three more ranked opponents, including No. 7 Søren Hess-Olesen and Lloyd Glasspool from Texas. Kobelt will undoubtedly improve on his No. 23 singles ranking when ITA releases their poll this week.
The value of this win for the tennis program is astronomical as the Buckeyes continue to prove that they are one of the elite programs in the country. Ohio State puts their new No. 1 ranking on the line this weekend when they travel to Notre Dame.
Elsewhere, the baseball team got off to a strong start, the hockey teams remain in the thick of things in Big Ten play, freshman Lady Buckeye tossed a no-hitter and the wrestling team had a strong showing at the NWCA National Duals tournament.
As Nick wrote this weekend, the Buckeyes have all the pieces to be a great team this year as they face an uphill battle for national relevance. On the diamond, they got off to a pretty strong start - going 2-2 at the Snowbird Classic in Port Charlotte, Florida. The Buckeyes defeated Connecticut (8-2) and Auburn (1-0) before losing to Indiana State twice (7-3 and 8-6).
Still, the weekend should be considered a success for the Buckeyes, who many thought would come out of the weekend 0-4. While beating Indiana State at least once would have certainly helped, the weekend was nothing short of a success. Auburn received votes this week in NCBWA poll and is a win the Buckeyes can hope to build on in the near future.
The key for the Buckeyes was that the pitching was excellent - posting a 3.00 combined ERA in the first four games. Ohio State could have easily defeated Indiana State in the finale had they not given up three unearned runs, as they only lost by two. Junior Ryan Riga earned Big Ten Co-Pitcher of the week honors, tossing six scoreless innings in the win over Auburn, which was only his second career start.
Josh Dezse led the Buckeye offense this weekend, going 4-for-10 with a double and an RBI, while Jacob Bosiokovic added a home run and four RBI's, going 2-for-11 on the weekend. Freshman Ronnie Dawson made a case for more playing time on Sunday, going 3-for-4 with a home run and three RBI's.
The young Bucks showed plenty of talent and a lot of drive that they can build on, and when it's all said and done I think this could be a really good team. The Buckeyes travel to Orlando, Florida on Friday to take on UCF, Citadel and Oklahoma this weekend.
It was an up and down weekend for the softball team, who had four of their five games ending short due to the 8-run "mercy" rule. The Lady Buckeyes defeated Cal State Northridge (9-0 in 5 innings), Long Beach State (10-8) and Utah Valley (8-0 in 6 innings), while also suffering "mercy" losses to No. 1 Florida (19-2) and No. 8 Oregon (9-0).
The highlight of the weekend was easily a no-hitter thrown by freshman Shelby Hursh in the victory over Utah Valley. The no-hitter was the first by an Ohio State softballer since Lindsay Bodeker blanked Eastern Michigan in 2009. Hursh also completed 12 strikeouts, the most by a Lady Buckeye since early last season.
Offensively, the Buckeyes were explosive on Friday against Cal State Northridge and Long Beach State, combining for 19 runs and 21 hits. Freshman Anna Kirk led the way with a pair of home runs.
The second day of competition wasn't as friendly to the Buckeyes, who got handled easily by two of the top teams in the nation, Florida and Oregon. Against Florida, it was one bad inning that did it for Ohio State, as Florida scored 15 runs on only nine hits in the second inning. Remove that second inning and it's a 4-2 game. Against Oregon, the offense was completely shut down, getting no-hit by Oregon's Cheridan Hawkins.
The Buckeyes rebounded however, knocking off Utah Valley in impressive fashion. In addition to Hursh's no hitter, the offense returned to life with eight runs on eight hits. Erika Leonard and Evelyn Carrillo led the way with two hits and two RBI's each. The Lady Buckeyes are now 4-6 on the season and return to action next Friday, when they travel to Kissimmee, Florida for the Diamond 9 Citrus Classic.
The men's wrestling team hosted the NWCA National Duals this past weekend at St. John Arena and did quite well, finishing third out of many of the nation's best programs.
After handling Hofstra (29-10) and Kent State (32-4) with relative ease, the Buckeyes fell 25-10 to top-ranked Minnesota in the semi-finals. The Buckeyes took an early after wins by Nick Roberts and No. 3 Logan Stieber. Stieber's victory came against No. 5 Chris Dardanes in the 141-pound class, a match that Stieber dominated with an 11-0 major decision. Johnnie DiJulius lost a tough match against David Thorn in a battle of top-10 wrestlers and No. 20 Ian Paddock lost to Nick Dardanes. Minnesota was just too deep for Ohio State and eventually pulled away. Despite the score, it was a great match that pitted multiple top-10 and ranked matchups.
Ohio State bounced back however, with a 23-16 victory over No. 11 Oklahoma in the third-place match. Nick Roberts once again got the Buckeyes off to a quick start and Johnni DiJulius increased the Buckeye lead with a close win over No. 7 Cody Brewer. Logan Stieber stretched the lead to 14-0 for the Buckeyes when he defeated Nick Lester of Oklahoma. Ian Paddock had another tough draw, losing to No. 2 Kendric Maple 13-3 in the 149 pound class and Nick Heflin had another nice win for the Buckeyes, defeating No. 5 Travis Rutt in the 197-pound class.
Minnesota went on to win the NWCA Duals Championship, knocking off Cornell 24-15. Overall, it was a great showing for both Ohio State and the Big Ten, which also saw No. 18 Illinois (who finished 8th in the B1G) finish in the top eight of the tournament.
Ohio State hosts Virginia Tech on Sunday at 2 before heading to Madison, Wisconsin in two weeks for the Big Ten Championships, which will be quite a spectacle, as the top three teams in the country (Minnesota, Penn State, Iowa) all come from the Big Ten. In total, five Big Ten teams are in the top-10 and nine are in the top-25 nationally. The Buckeyes currently sit at No. 7 in Division I, following a strong showing at the NWCA Duals. It will be a fun ride the rest of the way, and the Buckeyes certainly are capable of making a run in the Big Ten and national championships.