Softball: Freshman pitcher hits it big with 2 no-hitters

Freshman softball pitcher Lauren McClary has started the season off with a bang, throwing two no-hitters in three days against Rutgers and Cleveland State. She leads the team in strikeouts, innings pitched, ERA and wins. (Zach Nelson | For The Post)

It’s rare that a freshman joins a program to fill the void left by a graduated player and the team does not skip a beat.

But for Ohio, freshman pitcher Lauren McClary has been a leader by example since her first game with the Bobcats.

McClary tossed a one-hitter in her first collegiate start on opening day against St. Bonaventure. She then recorded two no-hitters in three days just three weeks later at the Georgia Bulldog Invitational. Though the hitless games were just five-inning outings because of the mercy rule, she was able to shut down the opposition for the team’s only no-hitters of the season.

McClary has been able to shut down her opponents all season, as she leads the Bobcat pitching staff in strikeouts, innings pitched, earned run average and wins. McClary did all of that before the beginning of Mid-American Conference play, which the team considers the most meaningful part of the season.

“I am very pleased with all of my success, but I wouldn’t say that I’m surprised,” McClary said. “It was great to go out and accomplish so much already. I am really proud and confident having pitched those no-hitters and ready for what’s next.”

McClary is far from her hometown of Pasadena, Texas, but she said Ohio was always her first choice when deciding on a college.

“There is just a beautiful campus here. I loved it from the first time I visited,” she said. “I’ve received other offers from other schools like Northwestern State in Louisiana, but nothing stood out like Ohio did to me. It is a great place and I get along with everyone here.”

McClary is filling the spot left in the pitching rotation by 2011 graduate Emily Wethington, who was a First-Team All-MAC player and Ohio’s all-time leader in wins, strikeouts and home runs.

Though McClary was not expected to be the team’s answer to filling Wethington’s spot, she has surpassed expectations of what she would accomplish in just 25 appearances in her first season.

“I’m not surprised by her success; she has great command and control. I knew from the beginning she would be good,” coach Jodi Hermanek said. “Lauren is going to struggle and have off-games, but she has already been huge during the first leg of our season this year and a bright spot on this team for the future.”

Being placed in the starting role as a freshman can be tough, especially as a pitcher and the main controller of the game. But fortunately for McClary, the Bobcats are a young team, as she has five other freshmen making the same transitions from high school to college as she.

“It has been a lot easier than it would’ve been with only one or two other girls. There have been ups and downs, but all-in-all we are in the right direction,” McClary said.

Though early in her career, McClary has already set goals for herself. She would like to be the all-time leader in strikeouts as an individual and then a MAC Champion with her team. She said all the personal goals do not matter as much as long as the team is winning.

The future is bright for McClary and will only get brighter as she continues to calm her nerves and settles into her role as the leader of the pitching staff.

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