Softball: Junior stays positive after offseason injury

Junior Raven King continues to play after injuring her back. King was the team’s record holder for home runs last season. (Dustin Lennert | Picture Editor)

After setting the program’s single-season record for home runs as a sophomore, third baseman Raven King entered this season expecting to break her own record again.

However, after experiencing a back injury during the offseason, King, now a junior, has hit just three home runs in Ohio’s first 29 games. Although she has not been homering, King has continued to be a consistent force in the Bobcat lineup.

“Raven has been Raven and is doing what she has always done,” Ohio coach Jodi Hermanek said. “What you’re seeing out of her is the same kind of consistency she developed last year. She’s just offering a different look with other power hitters around her.”

Since first putting on the green and white, King has yet to miss a start in 135 career games, while playing a variety of roles.

Due to senior Caitlin Colvin’s transition from pitching to playing first base, King shifted across the diamond to third base.

Though Hermanek and King agreed that there is still much to learn at third base as far as reads are concerned, King has made a smooth transition and is continuously getting better.

“(Third base) has been different, because first base is a routine —ball in play, go back to first and repeat,” King said. “But third is definitely more involved with getting ground balls, so it’s been a harder transition than I thought, but it’s starting to become more natural.”

As she continues to learn how to play the hot corner defensively, King has also been working on her swing after suffering setbacks during the offseason.

With the arrival of assistant coach Taylor Schlopy, teammates such as Colvin learned new offensive approaches, while King is still receiving instruction.

“I wasn’t practicing at all in the fall after we had our tournaments,” King said. “It was frustrating because we have a new hitting coach, who was teaching techniques that could better my swing, but I wasn’t able to work on it.”

Although she has hit just three home runs this year, King added eight doubles, after finishing last season with the same total in 57 games.

“The injury doesn’t affect my eyesight at all, so if I’m going to hit the ball, I’m going to hit it,” King said. “Sometimes it’s just been harder to get my lower half and torque into my swing to hit it over the fence.”

King added that her slow start has been frustrating and she expected to do better, but she has kept her head up, because the Bobcats have not needed her to be as good as she was last season.

Having been consistent on both sides of the ball, she continues to gain strength and adjust to change. King is ready for her team to lean on her as the Bobcats look to make a run at a Mid-American Conference title.

“She knows she hits well and can make adjustments during at-bats. I think that we’re just now getting comfortable in conference play and we’ll only see better,” Schlopy said.

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