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MIAMI, Fla. – Brittany Mills, a sophomore outfielder on the Ohio State softball team, is kicking things off for the Buckeyes with the first travel blog of the 2011 season.

Check in daily to catch up on the comings and goings of the squad as it plays five games at the FIU Combat Classic in Miami, Fla.

From Brittany … 
Day Four

7:00 a.m.
It’s the earliest we’ve had to get up for a game this weekend, but the most awake I’ve seen the team.  Our game against DePaul this morning means the difference between leaving Miami with a winning record or a losing record.  Our focus will really be the difference maker, and that begins now, even two hours before game time.  

11:30 a.m.
Game 5: Ohio State v. DePaul, 9:00 a.m.
Unfortunately, we will be leaving Miami with a losing record.  It was an extremely close and well-played contest, large due to the fantastic pitching effort of Karisa Medrano, but after being tied 3-3, we lost again in extra innings, falling to DePaul 5-4.

Although this weekend was not quite the opening we had hoped for, I think it was a good indicator of our strengths and weaknesses, and we have more than enough talent and heart as a team to improve where we need to as the season progresses.

4:30 p.m.
We had a ton of time to kill before our flight leaves at 6:45, and we spent it in the best way you can in Florida: at the beach!  Lessons learned from our mini vacation at South Beach: walking down a street in a pack of 25 identically dressed people can attract a lot of attention (and some O-H’s).

7:30 p.m.
Sitting on the plane and finally heading home.  While I’m sad this trip is drawing to a close, I’m excited to be back in Columbus and ready to start preparing for our next go-round in Alabama.  Sorry to say, but I need to get some homework done, so this will be where my blog comes to an end.  Thanks for reading!

Go Bucks!

Day Three
8:00 a.m.
Day three in Miami!  Unfortunately, the sunshine state is letting us down today: it’s chilly, overcast, and starting to rain a little bit, but we won’t let it dampen our spirits!  We’ll be heading to the field for our 10:00 a.m. game against Memphis not long after eating breakfast.

10:00 a.m.
Well, the little bit of rain turned into quite a good amount of rain, so our game is being delayed until further notice.  

2:00 p.m.
The rain let up and we were finally able to get the game going at about 10:45.

Game 3: Ohio State v. Memphis
Unfortunately, today started off with a loss as well.  Our persistent fighting throughout the game culminated in a clutch three-run homer by sophomore Julia Pecina in the bottom of the 7th inning, tying Memphis’s score and sending the game into extra innings.  Miami was able to rally back, however, and scored four more runs in the next inning while holding us to zero, resulting in our loss.

2:30 p.m.
As we eat lunch, the team considers our performance, recognizing the areas where we need to improve, and remaining optimistic and focused.  Coincidentally, the FIU baseball player with a 56 game hitting streak, Garrett Wittels, walks into the same sandwich shop, and I see that as a positive omen as we look forward to turn things around in our next game.

5:00 p.m.
During the break, a large group of teammates and parents gathered to watch, ultimately, the Ohio State basketball team suffer its first loss to the Wisconsin Badgers.  Even more motivation for us to bring some glory to Ohio State with a win against North Florida!

9:30 p.m.
Game 4: Ohio State v. North Florida – 7 p.m.
Ohio State has turned the tables!  Through a beautiful effort on all sides-hitting, pitching, and fielding-we were able to defeat North Florida 10-1.  I’m so incredibly proud of our team; we really pulled together as a unit for this game, and proved that we deserve to be where we are. 

Let’s take this unity, focus, and execution onto the field for our final game tomorrow!

Take one Bucks!

Brittany #26

Day Two
9:00 a.m.
Breakfast with the team!  Everyone is enjoying their food and having a good time, but you can see the anticipation in their eyes.  Game day is finally here!  After eating, Coach K (Linda Kalafatis) presents us with our brand-new, beautiful (and breathe-able!) red jerseys.  So excited for 4:00 to be here!

11:00 a.m.
Along with our passion for softball, our team also shares an intense passion for music.  As part of our pre-game ritual, roommate Evelyn Carrillo and I have been blasting motivational, pump-up songs, and no doubt the rest of the team is doing the same.

1:45 p.m.
Just finished a brief team meeting with the coaches.  We use these meeting not only to prepare ourselves with information about our opponents, but also to remind ourselves of our mission as a team.  From here we will head out to grab lunch and then finally get to the field to warm up for our first game of the season, beginning at 4:00 against the University of Kentucky.

9:30 PM
It’s been a very long day of softball.  I’ll break the afternoon down into our two games.

Game 1: Ohio State v. Kentucky, 4:30 p.m.
Our game started a little late because of a close competition between in the previous game.  Regrettably, our season opening performance was not quite what we had anticipated.  Our coaches like to think of the game with three main aspects-fielding, hitting, and pitching-and unfortunately we struggled considerably in the latter two areas.  Kentucky was able to avenge their loss against us in the NCAA Regional last season with a 9-0 victory. 

Game 2: Ohio State v. Florida International, 7:00 p.m.
Thankfully, what defines a team is how they respond to disappointment and adversity, and our team responded to our loss against Kentucky with a phenomenal performance against FIU.  Pitchers Kasie Kelly and Melanie Nichols dominated on the mound, recording strike-out after strike out, and senior Rachael Shepherd started off the team’s scoring with a beautiful homerun over the left field fence.  The game was close, but we came out on top, scoring two runs to FIU’s one. We left the field with a great deal of our confidence regained. Hopefully we will carry on this momentum onto tomorrow games!

Take two more Bucks!

Brittany #26

Day One
8:00 a.m.
Stepped outside and was met with 5 degree weather.  Another lovely winter morning in Ohio.  Couldn’t be a more perfect day to be leaving for Miami to kick off our 2011 season!

9:30 a.m.
Arrived at Buckeye Field to catch our shuttle bus to the airport.  For this first trip the team is dressing up to travel. I always love seeing my teammates out of our practice clothes, and we sure do clean up nicely!

10:04 a.m.
Finally departed from Buckeye Field, only 4 minutes late for once!  These bus trips to the airport are always hilarious: way too many people and bags for way too little space, and people are way too hyper.  Dee Dee Hillman is having a blast recording all the excitement with her infamous Flip video. 

11:35 a.m.
Lift-off!  We made our way through the airport smoothly, and it turns out the Marshall University softball team is also on our flight.  It officially feels like softball season has begun.

4:00 p.m.
Welcome to Miami! It is absolutely gorgeous down here, not to mention more than 80 degrees warmer than Columbus.  I think all of my California teammates wanted to run up and hug the palm trees.  On our way to the hotel now, where we’ll check in, drop off our bags and head out for a short practice at FIU’s field. 

7:15 p.m.
Just completed what Coach K (Linda Kalafatis) called one of the best season-opening practices she’s ever seen.  Our chemistry was fantastic, our hitting was disciplined, and nobody backed down on the field, even through the infielders haven’t fielded ground balls off of dirt for months.  Practices like this make me so proud to be a Buckeye!

10:00 p.m.
After a delicious dinner, we finally made it back to the hotel, tired after a long day of travelling and ready to rest up for tomorrow.  If we carry our performance from practice across to our two games tomorrow, we’re really going to light it up.

Take two Bucks! And goodnight!

Brittany #26