Alex Bayne stepping up as leader slugger for Ohio State softball

OSU redshirt junior outfielder Alex Bayne (left). Credit: Courtesy of OSU“Small but mighty” might be the most fitting adage to describe Ohio State softball player Alex Bayne. Despite standing a mere 5-foot-5, the redshirt junior is currently leading her team in home runs and RBIs after three weekends of play.“She’s a monster in the weight room,” said OSU coach Kelly Kovach Schoenly.Bayne, a Texas native, played her freshman year at Marshall University in West Virginia but said she did not find her fit in the team and culture. After visiting a friend at OSU, she fell in love with the community and decided to transfer.“I saw the team was having open tryouts, and I was lucky enough for them to want me to come on,” Bayne said.Schoenly already envisioned Bayne, who took a year off from playing in 2014, as a great addition to the team prior to tryouts.“She pestered me over email for seven months, saying, ‘Coach, I want to try out for the team,’” Schoenly said. “After, she came into my office and had zero expectations. She was willing to do whatever we needed her to do.”This conversation showed Schoenly the type of selfless player the outfielder was — and continues to be — as she steps into a larger leadership role this season.“My close friends last year were the leaders, and I just followed in their footsteps and communicated with my coaches about what they and my team need out of me,” Bayne said.Bayne, who studies strategic communication, was given the OSU Sportsmanship Award in 2015, in addition to being named a scholar-athlete. Because of her natural leadership skills, her teammates nominated her to be a captain despite having just a lone season donning the scarlet and gray. Senior teammate Maddy McIntyre, who ultimately earned the captain role, indicated her enthusiasm about what Bayne continues to bring to the team.“Bayne has kind of taken it to a new level this year. She’s really stepped up into a leadership role,” McIntyre said. “She’s just the embodiment of empathy and so mature beyond her years.”Like McIntyre, Schoenly also described Bayne as lighthearted and commended her incessant dedication to the team.“She’s never going to leave anybody out. She’s a part of every group on the team,” Schoenly said, mentioning how Bayne will offer to give teammates rides or help the pitchers out at any chance she gets.Schoenly also recalled a game against Nebraska last season when Bayne’s commitment first started to show.“I put her in to pinch hit and she hit a double. I said, ‘You know what? I’m going to keep her in,’ and then she hit another double,” Schoenly said.Within two weeks, Bayne had earned a starting position, and by the end of the season, she was hitting .375 with 17 RBIs.“A few games after Nebraska, she hit two home runs against Ohio University,” Schoenly said. “Because of her commitment to the process, she was more than ready for the opportunity.”Those two home runs were just the beginning of the slugger’s ascension to being one of the Buckeyes’ most dominant and consistent hitters. As she takes on a starting role, Bayne said she wants to focus on what her team needs rather than being only a big hitter.“Hopefully, I can continue to keep doing what I’ve been doing, but I’m not trying to think too big,” Bayne said. “Just bat on ball.”McIntyre laughed when asked what she expects from Bayne as the season moves forward.“If she could hit three home runs every weekend, we would love that,” she joked. Regardless of whether Bayne actually hits three home runs per weekend, she said she plans to keep supporting her teammates no matter what happens. “I just want to be there for my team through the ups and downs of it all,” she said.Bayne is planning to use her fifth year of eligibility on the diamond to attend OSU for graduate school, where she hopes to prepare for a career in either a communication program at a university or an athletics public relations firm.To Schoenly, who praised her player’s outlook on life, Bayne is the precedent for the younger players when it comes to making the most out of any opportunity.“She has this ‘I’m not taking anything for granted’ attitude,” Schoenly said. “She is really competitive, though.”Right now, Bayne’s competitive edge is the epicenter of the Buckeyes’ dynamic start to the season. The Scarlet and Gray are 9-4 with a chance to bolster that mark during a four-game stint in Tempe, Arizona, beginning Friday. When asked about whether her choice to come to OSU was the right one, Bayne’s eyes lit up as she started to grin.“It’s been one of the best decisions of my life,” she said. read more

Ohio State mens hockey sweeps No 6 Michigan in highscoring series

The Ohio State men’s hockey team continued its recent high-flying offensive performances and collected maximum points against a team equally as potent on offense, No. 6 Michigan. The Buckeyes won 7-4 on Friday at Yost Ice Arena in Ann Arbor, Michigan, and followed that up with a 6-5 overtime victory at Nationwide Arena in downtown Columbus on Sunday afternoon.The first period of Friday’s match was a wild one, with five goals scored in total over the opening 20 minutes. The Wolverines got on the board first, courtesy of a power-play goal from junior forward J.T. Compher. Less than five minutes later, Michigan (20-6-5, 10-4-3) doubled its lead from a shot by junior forward Alex Kile off a counter attack.However, the Buckeyes (11-17-3, 6-8-3) were not fazed by the early two-goal deficit. In a span of 10 minutes, the Scarlet and Gray notched three goals to grab the lead.Freshman forward Dakota Joshua would strike first just after the halfway point of the opening period. Junior defenseman Josh Healey’s shot from beyond the blue line then found its way past senior goaltender Steve Racine to bring the score to even. Then with less than a minute remaining in the period, a shot from freshman forward Mason Jobst took a rebound and fell to the feet of freshman forward John Wiitala, who promptly slotted the puck behind Racine.The momentum was clearly on the Buckeyes’ side, and it became just as apparent that they took full advantage of it.Sophomore forward Kevin Miller collected a pass from freshman defenseman Sasha Larocque and fired past Racine to double the Buckeyes’ lead. Just 22 seconds later, freshman forward Brendon Kearney converted to put OSU up 5-2. This prompted Michigan coach Red Berenson to make a change between the pipes, sending junior netminder Zach Nagelvoort into the fray for the Wolverines.Yet it didn’t make much of a difference, as junior defenseman Drew Brevig took advantage of a shorthanded Michigan side and fired from long range past Nagelvoort for the Buckeyes’ sixth unanswered goal.The Wolverines showed some fight in the third period with the hefty deficit. Sophomore forward Tony Calderone scored twice, giving a glimmer of hope for a potential comeback. However, freshman forward Freddy Gerard would put the final nail in the coffin with an empty-net goal with less than two minutes remaining in the contest. Despite having Saturday off, the Buckeyes appeared to pick up right where they left off when they entered Nationwide Arena on Sunday. OSU coach Steve Rohlik said it didn’t surprise him that both of the contests were high scoring. “It’s almost the way our two teams match up against one another, to be honest with you,” Rohlik said. “I don’t even know what the total goals are, but it’s off the charts in the four games, that’s for sure.“Every time you play (Michigan), at the end of the day you’ve probably got to score five goals to win.” Joshua would put one past Racine to kick off the Buckeyes’ scoring once again. Kearney then doubled the Scarlet and Gray’s lead with a little over three minutes remaining in the period. Just 25 seconds later, junior forward and co-captain Nick Schilkey would grab his 18th goal of the season and put OSU up 3-0.“It’s nice to know that the bounces are coming my way and coming the way of my line. We’ve been playing well,” Schilkey said. “There’s a few lines that have been putting the puck in the net. It’s kind of nice to get those bounces at this time and we just got to keep that going for sure.”Sophomore defenseman and Columbus Blue Jackets draft pick Zach Werenski’s power-play goal put the Wolverines on the board in the second period. Jobst would then restore the Buckeyes three-goal advantage after his shot managed to trickle underneath both a Michigan defenseman and the goaltender Racine. Senior defenseman and co-captain Craig Dalrymple went on to make it 5-1 with a long-range shot that went over Racine’s glove. Michigan would get back into the contest with two goals in the final minute of the second period. In just 24 seconds, sophomore forwards Cutler Martin and Calderone found the net for the Wolverines, setting up a competitive final period. “Stuff happens. Next thing you know, we give up the goal, didn’t get a penalty, they score on a power play, its 5-3. This team could score just like that,” Rohlik said. “They made it 5-3, and that two-goal lead going into the third, it’s never comfortable.”Werenski’s second goal of the day cut the Buckeyes’ lead to just one with over nine minutes left in the game. Michigan then tied it up with less than five minutes remaining, courtesy of freshman forward Cooper Marody.After three minutes of four-on-four overtime hockey, Schilkey collected a loose puck off a shot from Brevig on the rush and slotted it home, ending the contest 6-5. “Puck just got thrown out of our end. It kind of bounced off their stick weird. I was going the other way and couldn’t really get it to settle down. There I knew they were coming back on me. First chance I could I just ripped it,” Schilkey said on his winning goal. “Next thing I know I’m coming around the net and I see the goalie coming out after (the puck). It was a foot race, and I think I got him.”The Buckeyes’ regular season is set to finish next weekend at Michigan State. The puck is scheduled to drop at 7:05 p.m. on Friday and Saturday in East Lansing, Michigan. OSU freshman forward Mason Jobst (26) and a Michigan player shove each other during a game on March 6 at Nationwide Arena. Credit: Samantha Hollingshead | Photo Editor read more

Commentary Cincinnati Bengals Cleveland Browns still face questions marks

After two games, surprisingly enough, the Cincinnati Bengals and Cleveland Browns find themselves in a similar position – looking for answers. Bengals fans expected great things out of their team this year, as they should. The Bengals made the playoffs last year with a young roster glittered with talent and a solid coaching staff. But while Cincinnati (1-1) managed to beat its Ohio rivals Sunday, it cannot be satisfied with its team’s performance so far, particularly on defense. Meanwhile, Cleveland (0-2) was considered to be in rebuilding mode from the very start of the season. But after a strong showing on offense, the Browns look to build on the momentum of an encouraging loss. The team’s Paul Brown went head to head last week, hoping that a little sibling rivalry would help it bounce back after losing its openers. The fans in observance at Paul Brown Stadium were treated with a high scoring affair in which the younger sibling won out, 34-27. But the fashion in which Cincinnati eventually prevailed was not convincing, nor was it enough to compensate for the thrashing it suffered at the hands of the Ravens in week 1. The Bengals’ secondary got lit up by Browns rookie quarterback Brandon Weeden. This is after Weeden could not crack the double-digit mark in quarterback rating the previous week versus the Eagles after he was 12 of 35 for 118 yards, no touchdowns, and four interceptions – a 5.1 quarterback rating. As if that weren’t enough, Cleveland rookie running back Trent Richardson rolled over Cincinnati for 145 total yards and two touchdowns. Richardson is undoubtedly talented. However, the Eagles managed to hold him to 39 yards just a week earlier. It is highly doubtful that the Bengals want to be known as the team that cures all offensive ails. Meanwhile, Cleveland left the game feeling confident that its offense is not as far behind its defense as its week-one performance would indicate. Playing on the road against a team looking for redemption, Weeden looked aggressive from the very start. After studying Cincinnati’s opener, Weeden knew to attack the Bengals secondary, an element of their team that is most likely now their biggest question mark. The previous week, Baltimore quarterback Joe Flacco had a nearly flawless game in his team’s opener against Cincinnati (21 of 29, 299 yards, two touchdowns and a 128.4 quarterback rating). At the time, experts were gushing over Flacco’s improvement and some even went so far as to say that his infamous offseason proclamation that he was the NFL’s best quarterback was not as far-fetched as once imagined. However, the next week at Philadelphia, Flacco came back to Earth, posting a 66.8 quarterback rating. So let’s see, Weeden and Richardson are embarrassed and shutdown respectively by the Eagles, then have prolific offensive performances versus the Bengals. Meanwhile, the Ravens look unstoppable on offense in their opener against Cincinnati, then put up 16 points in a loss at Philly. Sure the Eagles are impressive defensively, but the Bengals can no longer feel confident that their defense will win them games. Giving up 27 points in a home opener to a struggling quarterback is not exactly the ’84 Bears. Up next for Cincinnati are the Redskins. Washington is averaging 34 points a game under the guidance of rookie Robert Griffin III, a true anomaly at the quarterback position. Wily veterans dream of his 70.9 percent completion rate while many running backs will fall short of the near-1,000 yards Griffin is on pace to gain on the ground. Griffin delivered a near-flawless performance in his team’s season-opening win in New Orleans. The Redskins then fell just short last week in St. Louis to a Rams team that exploded for 28 points in the second half. One can only imagine how the disappointment of that loss combined with the added enthusiasm of playing at home will motivate Griffin. What do the Bengals, ranked 29th in pass defense, plan to do to stop him? With zero interceptions on the year, will Griffin feel intimidated? Unlikely. Their five sacks in two games don’t exactly strike fear into opponents’ hearts either.  If the Bengals want to win, they will need to match the firepower of the Redskins. Last week, Bengals quarterback Andy Dalton and the Cincinnati offense showed signs of life. The second-year quarterback threw for 318 yards and three touchdowns against an imposing defense. And now they get to face a Redskins defense that is ranked 31st against the pass. But there is no guarantee that the Bengals will be able to pick apart Washington’s secondary. After all, the Bengals have allowed more sacks than any team in the league. And Dalton has looked uncomfortable at times this year, unable to connect with favorite target wide receiver A.J. Green. That is where free-agent addition, running back BenJarvus Green-Ellis, comes into play. The former Patriot has provided consistency and grit and proven to be a clear upgrade over predecessor running back Cedric Benson. He helped Cincinnati finish off Cleveland last weekend and was the only bright spot in that horrendous loss in Baltimore. Playing on the road, convention would say: mix Green-Ellis in with the pass early on, turning to the short passing game to pick up first downs until the opportunity presents itself to take the occasional shot downfield to Green. With a young offense like the Bengals, it is better to start slowly, so as to avoid falling behind early against the (surprisingly) prolific offense of the Redskins. Meanwhile, the Browns are at home to face Bills. Buffalo features the latest NFL sensation, running back C.J. Spiller. Despite not starting the opener, Spiller leads the league in rushing and shows no signs of slowing down. He is averaging a Madden NFL-like 10.1 yards per carry. Oh, and the Bills are thin at wide receiver and feature an inconsistent quarterback. Yeah, we might see them run the ball. But Cleveland cannot afford to stack the line of scrimmage as they were forced to reshuffle their secondary after the suspension of cornerback Joe Haden. Fortunately, the Browns feature a defense that can make plays. They are first in the league in interceptions and tied for second in sacks. They might be wise to pound the ball with Richardson and wait for something to happen on defense or special teams. While the Bills are ranked near the bottom of the league in pass defense, Cleveland’s coaching staff should avoid the temptation of allowing Weeden to air it out. They shouldn’t read too much into last week– the Bengals’ secondary looked confused, as they did against the Ravens. It would seem that Weeden is closer to the turnover prone rookie we saw in the opener than the passer who threw for over 300 yards in Cincinnati. Besides, Weeden’s success was a direct result of Richardson’s breakout game anyway. read more