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LOS ANGELES, Calif. – Dee Dee Hillman, a senior co-captain on the Ohio State softball team, has this week’s travel blog from the Buckeyes’ spring break trip in Southern California.

From Dee Dee
Day Five
This morning we decided to switch it up some and go out to breakfast. This was a nice change up from the hotel’s continental service. The buttermilk pancakes were very tasty and we ran into more Buckeye fans as we were leaving the restaurant. O-H-I-O!!!

We left for the Loyola Marymount University field around 11:30 a.m. ready to take on the Lions. Their campus was absolutely gorgeous sitting on the side of a mountain with the buildings constructed at different layers along the uphill streets. You could also see the downtown skyscrapers in the background of the field.

We battled LMU tough and finally put some runs on the board in the fourth inning. However, they were able to match our intensity and tie it right back up. We had some debatable calls that seemed to hit us hard, and we couldn’t quite find our groove again. The Lions were able to put back to back hits together late in the game and hung on to the lead.

The original plan was to go to dinner after the games, but we couldn’t get a hold of the restaurant so coaches gave us some free time to eat and walk around Manhattan Beach. This was not a bad choice at all! As everyone branched off their different ways down Manhattan Blvd., we noticed the surrounding surfer shops, open faced restaurants, and tourist shops. There was plenty to do with our free time. Our first stop was at a little pizzeria that served huge slices of any combination you wanted. It was so good!! Then we noticed a frozen yogurt place right across the street and we had to check it out. The creamery was filled with all types of old fashion candy and hand dipped ice cream. I went with the original frozen yogurt topped with fresh strawberries. Such a winner!

After our treats, we decided to walk around and check out the stores. I was in search of some new sunglasses so we went on the hunt. I was finally able to find some sweet ones at the local surf shop located right next to the beach. We spent our final hour looking at other clothing stores and walking along the beach. Boy was it peaceful! The sun was just beginning to set and the warm breeze seemed to melt all your worries away. We found some seashells to bring home and of course we left our names scripted in the sand. It was hard to leave such a breathtaking experience.  

When we met back up for the bus, everyone showed the deals they found and what they bought. We were waiting to be picked up for a while so we decided it was story time, and we learned about Coach Kalafatis’ background from Greece. She shared with us how their family passes along their first names throughout the generations both on the male and female side. It was so neat to hear her speak in Greek and learn more about her family’s history.

After we got on the bus headed to the hotel, the energy was very high and people were telling jokes. Everyone was cracking up, and then out of nowhere coach challenged the players to a staff vs. team softball game. This got the entire bus in an uproar. We were all talking smack and convinced that it wouldn’t even be a contest. There is no doubt in my mind that our team could take them. It would be pretty funny if this actually went down because we do have a talented staff in their own right.

When we got back to the hotel, it was definitely time to get some rest, but for some reason my card stopped working to open the door. Right away I knew I must have put it too close to my phone so I just walked back to the lobby. The receptionist was really nice about replacing the card, but she just laughed and said this wasn’t the right card. I was puzzled at first to what she meant, and then I realized that I was using the wrong card key. You know it’s been a long week when you tried to use the card from the last hotel (haha). I was a little embarrassed, but it’s cool. I just wanted to chill. Everything worked out in the end and now I’m ready to head back to Buckeye City. It’s been a blast!

Thank you all so very much for all of your support and encouragement. We really appreciate your loyalty to our program. I hope you have enjoyed reading my blog!! It’s been real. Go Bucks!!

See you on the field,

DeeDee Hillman #2

Day Four
Hi Buckeye Followers!

Today we are having a free day to hangout and take it easy. The plan is for those who have family here are free to spend the day with them, while everyone else goes to the mall for shopping and a movie. This already sounds like a great day to me!

We headed to the mall at 1 p.m. and it was nice to have some beautiful sunshine after yesterdays down pour. I loved how the majority of the shops were built outside and the actual structures were made in layers. This was very creative, as well as, eye catching.

Our first stop in the mall was at the food court. It seemed like Chinese was the popular vote so we sat down and grabbed a bite. As we all know, with most Chinese meals they give you a fortune cookie that holds your inspirational message of the day, but for some reason when I broke into mine something was different…..there was no paper to be found. Of all the Chinese fortune cookies I have eaten, I have never gotten one without a message inside. That was really strange!

We spend a total of three and a half hours shopping till’ we dropped. Going up and down the staggered floors. It was a lot of fun and we ran into some interesting people. At one point we passed a line of individuals who were interviewing to be the Easter bunny in the mall for the holidays. It was so funny! I mean come on, you don’t see that every day! I wondered what kind of questions they were asking. What would qualify you to be the right Easter bunny?

Once we grouped back up, it was off to the movies! After the movie was over, we headed to the much anticipated hot spot burger place in California. This was my first experience and now I can say that I am a witness and a believer. Man, it was worth the wait! While in line for our food, we noticed that one of the employees looked exactly like Melissa Rennie. I’m talking a spot on match! Rennie wanted a picture with her, but the restaurant was packed and we couldn’t get the chance to ask. Maybe it is true…everyone does have a twin. If that’s the case, I’m still looking for mine. Later we drove back to the hotel for a good night’s rest. Let’s get the W tomorrow Bucks!!

Your Buckeye,
DeeDee Hillman #2

Day Three
Hi Buckeye Fans!

This morning it was great spending time with our families over breakfast and sharing many laughs together. At 9:45 am we headed to San Diego State University to take on Cal State Northridge and San Diego State.

In game one we came out a little slow, but soon picked it up and started to hit the ball hard in the fifth inning. We continued to put the ball in play as the game progressed, but it seemed like every shot we hit went straight to a fielder. Cal State Northridge was able to hang on to the lead and take game one. We quickly regrouped and mentally got ready for game two.

In game two our intensity was much better against San Diego State and we let our defense fuel our offense. We came alive in the fifth and scored first, while our defense stayed persistent. Unfortunately, San Diego State was able to rally late in the seventh and we dropped a heartbreaker. We are continuing to show a lot of growth every game and we will focus on finishing at the end of another close game.

After our games we headed to dinner in the legendary Old Town San Diego District, which is known for its beautiful scenery and delicious authentic Mexican restaurants. We ate at a great Mexican restaurant and the food was out of. sight!! Everything was so fresh and prepared with love. We even had a very talented group of guitar players impress us with their soulful tunes and sweet voices. They asked us if we had any requests…and of course we picked “La Bamba.” In addition, they were nice enough to play Happy Birthday to Melissa Rennie and myself for our birthdays this weekend. They made our team feel so welcomed. Even our very own Evelyn Carrillo said that the food was spot on and she also gave us some tips on how to make the homemade style tortillas even better. Who knew that a little lime and salt can do wonders? After dinner we headed back to the hotel for some relaxation and well needed rest. Let’s take one tomorrow Bucks!!

Thanks for following,
DeeDee #2

Day Two
Good morning Buckeye fans!!

It’s time to rise and shine because it’s game day and also my BIRTHDAY Yaaaayy!!! I’m so thankful for another blessed year! We began this beautiful morning with some hardy breakfast and had our usual story time while we ate. It’s so nice not having to worry about homework over break so we had plenty of down time to watch movies, the NCAA basketball tournament, spend time with family, and nap before we went to lunch.

At 1:15pm we headed to a restaurant of former major league pitcher Randy Jones for our pre-game meal. It was very flattering to have a V.I.P. entrance into the restaurant and having the big screen T.V. ready to watch our men’s basketball team play. Running into other Ohio State fans was just icing on the cake because we quickly turned the spot into Buckeye City by shouting O-H-I-O!!! While we waited for our food, we had the pleasure of meeting the honorable Mr. Jones himself. He welcomed us to his restaurant with warm handshakes and gave us some words of encouragement. We ate up every sentence as he shared his experience as a major league pitcher. This really motivated us to play from our heart and to simply love the game. After our meal, it was time to head to The University of San Diego and battle with Harvard and USD.

In game one we came out with solid defense and pitching. Our hitting got better as the game went on and we were finally able to start a rally in the fifth. The game had a slight comical delay due to a frantic squirrel running onto the field looking for a way to escape. The poor thing kept running into the backstop and fences before it finally found an opening through the dugout. The crowd loved the diversion by concluding with a hand clap. After that, our defense was able to hold tough, our pitchers were lights out, and our hitting became contagious. Everyone’s confidence was through the roof and it seemed like everything was clicking for us. The Buckeyes were in the zone and we earned the deserving victory. This game was a total team effort and was proudly Coach Kalafatis’s 500th career win as the head coach for Ohio State.

We carried our momentum and energy right into game two against USD and picked up right where we left off, taking an early lead. Again, our pitchers set the tone in the circle and our hitters backed their intensity. We took the game one inning at a time and flowed together as one unit. It was great getting both wins tonight and I would consider this our breakthrough. For my birthday I didn’t want candles or cake, I just wanted this moment for our squad!! After the games we went back to the hotel for pizza and quality time with our families. What a great day to be a Buckeye!! Thanks for the support!

Go Bucks,
DeeDee #2

Day One
Hello Buckeye Nation!!

What a privilege it is to blog over our spring break tournament in sunny San Diego, California. I’m here to give you an exclusive inside look at our travel experiences as student-athletes at The Ohio State University. We greatly appreciate all of your support and hope to see you at our upcoming home games!!  

Before we headed to the Columbus airport, we had a productive practice to give us great energy heading into the weekend. I feel that we have had a solid two weeks of practice and are fully prepared to compete in San Diego.

At 4:45 pm we were headed out for California and looked forward to the down time we had on the plane for watching movies, playing games, and just relaxing without having to think about homework. At one point I looked across the aisle and laughed at Leesa Gresham and Megan Coletta lip singing to Chris Brown’s song “Crawl”. It’s funny how multi-talented our team members really are.

We had an hour layover in the one and only city of Las Vegas, Nevada. It was really cool seeing the strip from our airplane and the airport was filled with lights and slot machines. We had a quick dinner and people shouted O-H-I-O as we passed through the terminal. I love the fact that there are Buckeye fans all over the world. What an honor. 

Our flight continued its journey to San Diego and we landed around 8:30 pm. We quickly loaded the bus and headed to our hotel. It made us feel really good to have some of the California families greeting us in the lobby. It’s always a joy to see them. My roommate this weekend is Megan Coletta and we both love March Madness so we turned on the TV as soon as we got in the room. I have a great feeling that this weekend is going to be the turning point for our season. Let’s have confidence in our God given abilities and play to our full potential Bucks!! We’re ready!! Thanks for reading.

Go Bucks,
DeeDee #2