Columbus, Ohio- The Ohio State University has one of the largest student enrollment in the United States and is one of the toughest colleges to get into. But academically and athletically it is one of the top public universities consistently year in and year out. Students come from all around the world to the capital city of Columbus and Ohio State ranks high yearly with student satisfaction, employment, and has one of the largest alumni bases in the country. And that’s why it’s no surprise that 4 young ladies from the Ohio State softball team achieved a perfect 4.0 grade point average from summer school.
Amy Balich, Andi Farrah, Skylar Hayward, and Morgan Ray all achieved this rare feat as they put in a lot of hard work over the summer. The student-athletes from softball Head Coach Kelly Kovach Schoenly’s team not only star on the field but off it as well. Coach Kovach Schoenly is entering her 7th season as Buckeye Softball Head Coach and has 199 wins during that time, including 36 in 2018, the most for Ohio State since the 2010 season. Her teams are rewriting the record books at Ohio State but she has a strong belief of academics first, sports second, like all Ohio State coaches. And she couldn’t more proud of her student-athletes and their achievement.
Morgan Ray, the lone senior on this esteemed list, is the pride of Montana as she hails from Frenchtown, a town of just less than 2,000 people. Ray had an outstanding season in 2018 on the mound for the Buckeyes and looks to be the ace pitcher in the 2019 season. She was named NFCA Second Team All-Midwest Region (2018), Academic All-Big Ten (2017, 2018), and an OSU Scholar-Athlete. In 2018 she started 25 games in 38 appearances in the circle and finished the season with a team-best 18 wins, 157.2 innings pitched, two shutouts and 13 complete games. She was third in the Big Ten with a .197 opposing batting average, fifth in wins (18), seventh in strikeouts (145) and ninth in ERA (2.58). She is the daughter of J.B. and Gypsy Ray.
Amy Balich, entering her junior year, hails from Palos Park, Illinois, and was an Academic All-Big Ten (2018) as well as named an OSU Scholar-Athlete. She appeared in 28 games and scored 13 runs and stole a pair of bases in 2018. She is the daughter of Daughter of Bob and Nancy Balich. Balich is studying to be an engineer.
The Other Junior on this prestigious list is outfielder Andi Farrah who arrived in Columbus from right down the road in nearby Pickerington. She was named Academic All-Big Ten (2018) and also earned the title of OSU Scholar-Athlete. As a sophomore in 2018, she played in 26 games with two starts and scored 10 runs and was a perfect 4-for-4 in stolen bases. Farrah, who is looking to achieve a medical degree and career, is the daughter of Debbie Flaherty and step-father JP Flaherty.
Last, and definitely not least is soon to be sophomore Skylar Hayward. The young pitcher from the small town of Buford, Georgia, did not see a lot of playing time as a freshman, only pitching a little over 2 innings on the season, but is looking to make a big impact in 2019. The Mill Creek High School graduate comes to the Ohio capital with great credentials as she was named the 2015 Georgia Dugout Club 6A Player of the Year, Gwinnett Daily Post Pitcher of the Year, Georgia Softball Coaches Association 7A Co-Player of the Year as a senior in 2016 and also selected as the GSCA Pitcher of the Year. Although moving so far north is a big adjustment to her, she does whatever it takes to support her Buckeyes. Hayward would like to become an oncologist, radiologist, or optometrist following graduation and is the daughter of Brad and Gretchen Hayward.
As you can tell, none of these girls are coasting by with easy schedules and classes. When they’re not practicing or playing a game on Buckeye Field, they are hitting the books and studying hard to achieve their academic dreams. While they would love to play at the professional level in the National Pro Fastpitch League (NPFL), the average salary for a player is only about $8,000 a year compared to the Major League Baseball (MLB) average salary of 4 million dollars a year with a minimum salary of $550,000 a year. While many will argue that the MLB, which has more teams and has been around much longer, is a much more entertaining game others will point out there are more rules in the women’s league which makes the game more difficult and challenging for the players and much more exciting for the fans.
While the average speed for a pitch in baseball is 90 mph, in women’s softball it is 80 mph, which is pretty fast for an underhand pitch. A softball is harder to hit farther because of the lack of density of the ball also. But sadly women’s sports do not get the recognition they deserve but maybe someday they will.
In the meantime, these 4 Ohio State all-star academic scholar-athletes are happy and proud to be a part of such a great University and one of the best softball programs in the nation!