Around The Oval

By Jeremy Birmingham on February 21, 2012 at 4:00 pm
Buckeyes women hockey got a big win on Saturday afternoon

Ohio State operates the NCAA's second-largest athletic department. Eleven Warriors is committed to keeping you informed of what's happening with those sports that make Ohio State athletics more than just football and basketball. Around the Oval will be your bi-weekly update on these teams.

Good afternoon everyone and welcome back to "Around The Oval" here at 11W, our look at those talented men and women who comprise the portions of OSU's athletic programs that don't get the attention that perhaps they should.

It's been a tough few weeks for fans of the scarlet and gray's once swaggerific hoops team, so it doesn't hurt too much to turn my attention away from them for at least a few moments. I am sure some of you feel the same way, and are also searching for distractions, so hopefully this can provide that for you.

While we won't spend much time today talking about it, I wanted to make sure that the women's hockey team gets a bit of love before we dive into the meat and potatoes of this week's column. After getting beaten down 7-1 on Friday night, the unranked ladies went to Madison bounced back Saturday and for the first time in the program's history, they knocked off the top-ranked team in the country when they upset the Badgers 4-2. 

Will that victory have the same effect on the skater chicks as this upset had for the fellas on the hardwood? It's not likely, but it's sure fun to speculate and hope and dream, ain't it? 

The Lady Buckeyes will begin the WCHA play-offs when they travel to Minnesota-Duluth this weekend as the fifth seed in the tournament. 

Anywho, let's get on with the rest of the show, deal?

We're gonna start in my favorite place, the baseball diamond; where the Buckeye nine saw their season get started last week.

diamonds are forever

The best part of being a college baseball player at a northern school in February? Quite simply: road trips. 

The Ohio State baseball players got their first road trip action this past weekend, when they headed to Florida to participate in the Big Ten/Big East Challenge. In a three-game set, the Buckeyes squared off with three Big East programs, and came away from the weekend with a pair of wins.

The first game of the year saw the Buckeyes take on the Bulls from South Florida. Last year was head coach Greg Beal's first season in Columbus, and the Buckeyes finished 26-27. The opener against unranked USF (25-29) a year ago, provided the Bucks an opportunity to get things moving quickly this time around. Unfortunately, the Buckeyes fell to the Bulls 5-3 in the season opener, so we won't worry about that one right now, instead talking more about the two wins that followed.

Ohio State 14 Seton Hall 7 In the season-opening loss against USF, the Buckeyes collected nine hits, including four doubles, but only pushed across three runs; leaving 12 baserunners on the bags. In the season's second game against the Pirates, the tides turned and it was Seton Hall who left 13 on base while the Buckeyes had 14 base knocks, including at least one from every starter while taking advantage of 8 Seton Hall walks as they scraped together 14 runs in the victory.

Brad Hallberg had a walk to go with three of the Buckeye hits in the win while driving in three runs. After three hits in the opener, first basemen Josh Dezse picked up two more hits while contributing two RBI of his own. Buckeye's starter Brian King got his first win of the year, scattering seven hits over five innings, but was able to squirm out of trouble in a few frames, allowing only one (unearned) run, striking out three while walking one. 

The Buckeyes scored six runs in the first and second innings, but held only a 7-4 lead as they entered the 8th inning. Ohio State put 7 more on the board in the top of the 8th, and that was all she wrote for the Pirates, who fell to 1-2 on the young season.

Ohio State 9 Connecticut 5 (6 Innings, travel shortened) In Sunday's finale, the Buckeyes took on the Huskies from UConn in what would a six-inning game that would be  shortened by travel requirements for both teams. Ohio State improved to 2-1 on the season, led once again by Josh Desze who added two more hits and four RBI, including the Buckeyes' first longball of the season.

Tied at 4 heading into the 6th (and final) inning, the Buckeyes dented the scoreboard with five big runs on three hits in the final frame to pick up the W.

Desze finished the weekend 7-for-14, and drove in five runs to lead the Buckeyes in both categories. Mike Carroll, the Buckeyes left-fielder, also finished the weekend hitting .500, going 6-for-12. It was a good opening weekend for the Buckeyes, and Beals came away encouraged. Desze was named the B1G Player of the Week for his efforts.

“We have talked about how Sundays will always be tough games,” head coach Greg Beals said. “The team that will grind it out and compete will be the team that wins. We beat two teams that played in NCAAs last year and UConn even made a Super Regional. They are the teams we want to play and we want to beat so it’s good to get off to a good start against them.”

Ohio State will continue its southern-swing next weekend, when they travel to Atlanta to for a three-game series against the Ramblin' Wreck of Georgia Tech. The Yellow Jackets, 9th in the national polls, were stunned in a season-opening loss against Kent State last weekend.

They see blaz rola, they hatin'

At 11-0, the third-ranked Buckeye tennis team got a chance to extract a bit of revenge against the last team to beat them in Columbus, the Virginia Cavaliers, but this time, they would take on the Cavs in Virginia, as part of the 2012 National Team Indoor Championship, being held in Charlottesville, VA. 

The tournament's semi-final, Virginia, ranked #2 nationally, proved to be little competition for the Buckeyes; who were led once again by the duo of senior Chase Buchanan and sophomore Blaz Rola. Ranked as the 16th and 12th-ranked singles players, respectively, both of the Buckeye best handled their business in three sets, despite being upset in doubles play. Buchanan and Rola are ranked the nation's top pair, but fell to the 12th ranked team of Drew Courtney and Jarmere Jenkins. Ohio State's Peter Kobelt, an unranked sophomore from New Albany, Ohio got things rolling for the Buckeyes when he pulled off the upset of the tournament, knocking off Virginias' Mitchell Frank, the nation's top singles player.

When it was all said and done, the Buckeyes had taken care of business, upsetting the #2 Cavaliers by a score of 4-1, setting them up for a shot at the nation's top team, USC in the tournament championship. 

In the finale, the Buckeyes, now 12-0, tasted defeat for the first time this season, when they lost to the Trojans 4-3. Rola and Buchanan bounced back on the doubles court, but Buchanan fell USC's Steve Johnson in straight sets (6-3, 6-4) and the Buckeyes were unable to pull off a needed upset to secure the match. 

With the loss, the Buckeyes fall to 1-5 all-time against USC on the tennis courts, including a loss in the 2009 National Championship in Austin, Texas. 

Ohio State will get back on the horse this upcoming weekend, when they will host Kentucky and North Carolina.

Buckeye Bits

Natalie Spooner, a senior forward for the Buckeye women's hockey team, is a nominee for the 2012 Patty Kazmaier Memorial Award, given to the nation's premier women's hockey player in the country. Spooner has scored 29 goals in 32 games to lead the Buckeyes, and has also recorded 19 assists, leading the team in scoring with 48 points on the year.

The #8 men's volleyball team picked up a 3-1 win over Carthage this past weekend. The Buckeyes are now 11-4 on the year, and will travel to Illinois  this weekend for a couple of matches against Lewis and Loyola Chicago.

Congratulations go out to Buckeye senior Alayna Markwordt, who became the all-time leading scorer Ohio State women's lacrosse history with four goals against Louisville on Sunday. She has scored a point in 52 straight games.

Six-time All-American diver Bianca Alvarez won her first B1G titles when she captured the 1-meter and 3-meter dives at the conference championships in Iowa.


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