COLUMBUS, Ohio – A trio of Ohio State softball players – Kaitlyn Coffman, Meggie Otte and Jaycee Ruberti – has elected to return for a fifth year of eligibility in 2023.
The group not only brings back plenty of big game experience – they’ve combined to play in 432 games in their respective careers – but also big game production. Last year, they each played key roles for an Ohio State team that finished 36-17, made the semifinals of the Big Ten Tournament and played in the NCAA Regionals for the fifth time in six years. In 2023, they’re poised for even bigger things.
Coffman, a Visalia, Calif. native, was playing some of the best softball of her career late last season. She emerged as the Buckeyes’ top pinch hitter, going 9-for-25 (.360) in those opportunities. That was no better exemplified than in the opening game of the NCAA Tournament vs. Oregon State when she came through with a two-run double in the sixth inning to bring the Buckeyes within one run. Three weeks earlier, Coffman had a pinch-hit two-run home run in a 5-4 win over eventual Big Ten Tournament champion Nebraska.
In 135 career games, Coffman has driven in 63 runs, scored 40 times and has 13 home runs, which is the second-most of any player on Ohio State’s active roster.
“My decision to return was an easy one,” Coffman said. “Softball has been my life for so long and I wasn’t ready to say goodbye yet. I have missed the friendships, the grind and the game. I am excited to take advantage of this opportunity and play my fifth year and continue my education at The Ohio State University.”
Otte, a four-year starter in center field, will be one of the Big Ten’s most experienced players when she suits up in 2023. She’s also emerged as one of the conference’s best defensive outfielders, as evidenced by diving catches that have almost become routine. Otte has 112 career hits, 76 runs batted in and 23 doubles and last year set her career high in home runs.
An Ohio native from East Sparta, Otte has stated 146 of the 153 games that she’s played in since 2019, including all 96 over the last two seasons. She in majoring in human development and family science.
“I’m so excited to have one more opportunity to represent my hometown, my state and a program I’ve come to love,” said Otte. “I’m now in a position to be a leader and leave a legacy for the younger players, which is very important to me. I can’t wait to get started with our coaches and this team. The sky is the limit for us.”
Ruberti came to Ohio State last season from Hofstra and made an instant impact. A 48-game starter, she batted .299 and by the end of the season was holding down the leadoff spot in the lineup. For the season, she batted .299 and had a .350 on-base percentage with a team-high 37 runs scored, eight doubles and 14 RBI.
Her ability to fill up a box score was best put on display during Ohio State’s spring break trip last March when Ruberti reached base safely in 10 of her 14 plate appearances in a four-game weekend at South Florida and hit .667 overall while scoring seven runs.
A criminology major, Ruberti graduated in August with her bachelor’s degree and has begun work towards a master’s degree in sports management.
“There was no hesitation when thinking about returning back to Ohio State,” said Ruberti. “Having one more opportunity to play the sport I love with the people I love was an easy decision. This program and the coaching staff is unlike any other and I cannot express how thankful I am to be a part of it and call Ohio State my home. I’m so thankful for my teammates who welcomed me in as a transfer last year, for my coaches who believed in me to make an immediate impact, and for the unwavering support that Ohio State gives its student athletes.”
“This year is going to be bitter-sweet knowing it’s my last time wearing the Buckeye uniform, but I’ll have a lifetime of memories to look back at once it’s all over. I know the team will continue to elevate our standards. I am beyond excited get one more chance to play the sport that has given me countless opportunities with this group of women for the 2023 spring season, and to play for my team and for all the people who helped make this dream come true.”