Sophomore right-handed pitcher Allison Smith is finding her groove in her second season as a Buckeye.
Smith committed to Ohio State as a freshman at Champion High School and never looked back. She said her commitment decision came easy after getting to know the coaching staff and visiting the university.
“The people, the place, it’s just like it was the perfect match for me,” Smith said.
Her dedication to the Buckeyes does not go unnoticed. Head coach Kelly Kovach Schoenly said it is obvious Smith truly could never imagine playing for any other school.
Hailing from Champion, Ohio, Smith had an impressive start to her collegiate career. She was named to the 2021 Big Ten All-Freshman team and led Ohio State with 12 wins and 134 strikeouts — all in her first season with the program.
Despite her success, Smith said she would not have been able to achieve so much without her teammates.
“You need a staff,” Smith said. “It’s not, ‘We win because of one person,’ or, ‘We lose because of one person.’ ”
Smith got off to a hot start, picking up wins in three of her first four games. She has pitched three shutouts already this season, including a 1-0 victory over Butler in which she threw a career-high 11 strikeouts Feb. 18.
Her last time out, Smith struggled — giving 10 earned runs and nine hits against Indiana March 25.
She said the bond that she has built with her teammates plays a big role when the Buckeyes take the field. Schoenly said Smith’s teammates are determined to play hard for her when she is pitching because she openly appreciates the work they put in on defense.
“They want to play hard for her when she’s pitching because she appreciates them,” Schoenly said.
Junior catcher Sam Hackenbracht described Smith as someone who has a unique mentality in the circle.
“She has that mindset that most people don’t have and she’s able to absolutely just turn it on when she needs to,” Hackenbracht said.
Ohio State softball has faced strong competition already this year, but Smith has helped the Buckeyes to a 23-7 record.
As she continues through her second season at Ohio State, Schoenly said she feels Smith has been able to relax and appreciate herself more.
“I don’t think she gave herself enough credit last year where now she’s like, ‘I’m good,’ ” Schoenly said. “But I knew she was good.”
As for the future, Smith said she anticipates big things for the Buckeyes this season. She described the team as strong competitors who approach each game as a challenge to overcome together.
The sophomore said she has learned to manage her stress in a healthier way this year, not bringing the strain of outside life into practice and games.
“The thing that I would say I’m better this year that I didn’t have last year is compartmentalizing the stress,” Smith said. “Being able to show up to the field and let all the stress of outside life go and just being like, ‘OK, I’m with my family, like, let’s just get to work.’ ”