So, let’s get this straight: Colin Kaepernick is 27-years-old, has led the San Francisco 49ers to within one play of advancing to the Super Bowl, has his team in contention again this season, and a group of NFL executives/coaches say they would take Derek Carr over Kaepernick.I know what you’re saying: “Who’s Derek Carr?”Fair question. He’s the rookie quarterback of the Oakland Raiders. The same Oakland Raiders that have won just one of 11 games this season. The same Oakland Raiders Carr led last week in their 52-0 humiliating loss to the St. Louis Rams, who are not exactly the ’85 Bears on defense.But according to cbssports.com, former NFL scout John Middlekauff polled several league personnel and QB coaches about the two quarterbacks who were, as fate would have it, both taken No. 36 in the draft, only three years apart.How could Carr go from a nondescript young quarterback to the subject of such an inquiry? Well, here is Middlekauff’s assessment of Kaepernick via the anonymous execs:“The consistent sentiment is [Kaepernick] may just be what he is and some of his fundamental flaws will not change (accuracy/touch) over time. Kap’s frenetic play is just something his coach and skill guys will have to learn to live with, it may not be something that changed. He will always be a guy that forces you to live with the bad because the good is so special.”Translation: That was a bunch of double talk. Fundamental flaws will not change? Why not? Why can’t he improve? Frenetic play? What’s that? And here’s the real kicker: “. . . live with the bad because the good is so special.”When are “special” talents that have produced on the field rated lower than a quarterback most did not know was in the league? Carr, who looks to be a nice player, has not distinguished himself in any way, yet NFL talent evaluators would take him over Kaepernick? Here is Middlekauff’s word on Carr:“Carr’s pocket presence and natural development over the ‘14 season has caught the eye of many around the NFL. His arm strength was never the question and he has quieted the ‘he may not be tough enough’ crowd quickly. Everyone I spoke with was very bullish on his potential and what he will become once Oakland surrounds him with talent.”What he really said was Carr, a 23-year-old rookie out of Fresno State, has not done much, but could do a lot. Maybe. They cannot be certain. And he’s rated ahead of Kaepernick? Does that ring reasonable?Granted, Kaepernick has been less the player expected of him after a 2013 season that landed him a $126 million contract. But even as he searches for a rhythm, the 49ers are 7-5 and fighting for a post-season position.He has completed 61.2 percent of his passes for 2,736 yards with 15 touchdowns against 8 interceptions. Carr has completed 59.3 percent of his passes for 2,422 yards with 14 TDs and 11 interceptions.So, what’s really going on here? We have seen with Robert Griffin III and many other quarterbacks that one season does not make them an NFL star QB. It’s one thing to say Carr has a chance to be a solid or even a star quarterback if he continues to develop. To say he’s the choice over a battle-tested Kaepernick who has flourished against some of the more physical and sound defenses in the league, well, it’s a stretch at best, curious at worst.If Kaepernick’s last-second pass to Michael Crabtree in the NFC Championship game in January was not broken up by Richard Sherman, he could have been the second Black quarterback to win a Super Bowl, not Seattle’s Russell Wilson. What then?Of course, playing the “if” game could go on for a while and gets us nowhere. The reality is Kaepernick, for reasons unknown (wink, wink), is being judged quickly and harshly. Perhaps the significant contract contributes to the skepticism. Perhaps he’s been looked at through the lens that measures performance alongside salary.If that’s the case, Carr should be judged from the standpoint that his body of work is hardly enough to stack up against a playoff-winning quarterback who just turned 27 and has the capacity to grow. Why would Carr’s potential be greater than Kaepernick’s, especially when “Kap” has already won in the NFL?Why would they compare him to Kaepernick anyway? Why not Cleveland’s Brian Hoyer? Or Arizona’s Drew Stanton? Maybe it’s because Kaepernick and Carr face off on Sunday. Or maybe it’s something deeper. Could it be that Carr is white? Maybe not. But all of it is curious.
From “LIttle Ballers.”A 2013 documentary about youth basketball offers more than a showcase for the talent of 11-year-olds boys. “Little Ballers” delivers emotional insight into young minds who have NBA aspirations, but learn about so much more along the way.The documentary, which is being shown on Nicktoons, centers on an AAU team in New York called New Heights. It is directed by Crystal McCrary, who co-wrote the novel Homecourt Advantage with Rita Ewing, the ex-wife of Hall of Fame center Patrick Ewing. McCrary was once married to former NBA player Greg Anthony.Her son is among four kids highlighted in the film, and they offer interesting perspectives on basketball, life and their goals.McCrary said the notion of developing a documentary started with her filming her son’s games. But when the idea struck, she moved ahead.“I didn’t know where the story was going to go,” she told The Huffington Post.Turns out, the story went everywhere, much of it McCrary’s doing. McCrary gets into socio-political issues and how Black males are perceived in America, areas that have become talking points to African-American parents.New Heights was comprised of more than Black youths, but the film focuses on them.“It’s about these four boys that come from diverse family and economic situations,” McCrary said.One of the kids, Tyriek, lives with his single mother in the gang-ridden Brownsville neighborhood of Brooklyn, the former home to Mike Tyson.“Typically, when society sees a kid like Tyriek walking down the street in his community, he’s immediately written off as some sort of statistic or some sort of other, so the kid is not destined to achieve,” she said to HuffPost.“Just because you are being brought up in poverty, that doesn’t make you a criminal,” McCrary added. “It also doesn’t mean you’re not brought up in an environment that’s filled with love, just as much as that kid that lives in the suburbs with two parents and a white picket fence, who also is brought up with love.”“Little Ballers” director Crystal McCrary.The film, co-executive produced by recording artist Lupe Fiasco and NBA star Amar’e Stoudemire, took McCrary to emotional places she did not expect, she said.“Since the boys hadn’t had any real disappointments in their 11-year-old lives, they believed they could scale Mount Everest, they believed that they are going to make it to the NBA, despite the fact that the odds are overwhelmingly against them,” she said.“And that’s inspirational.”It was also inspiring to see the young players grow close.“I also found inspiration in the bond that they developed as brothers,” she noted. “For these young men, race, class and culture really meant nothing, but what did mean something was the brotherhood they developed playing together as teammates and getting to know each other off the court.”So, the film’s value is in more than watching kids play basketball.“I’m not one of those people that says basketball replaces education, nor am I trying to sell a pipe dream,” McCrary said. “It’s just important to show that there are so many attributes that kids can acquire by being on an organized team.”
That’s a big spike, but the Patriots were already expected to be the best team in the AFC East before Brady’s return. The nullification of Brady’s suspension will really matter when the playoffs start — the Patriots are now expected to have the second-best record in the AFC (New England passed the Broncos, though they still rank behind the Colts). So Goodell’s inept handling of Brady’s suspension didn’t just gift the Patriots nearly half a win; it might also have gifted them a higher playoff seed.UPDATE (Sept. 3, 3:42 p.m.): This post has been updated throughout with new data from an updated Football Power Index model. Somebody ought to teach Roger Goodell how to suspend a guy properly. On Thursday, Judge Richard Berman overturned Teflon Tom Brady’s four-game suspension in connection with the Deflategate scandal. You can read all sorts of legal analysis elsewhere, but here’s the basic gist: Goodell, the NFL commissioner, didn’t justly suspend Brady, nor did he properly notify Brady during the process that a four-game suspension was a possible punishment. (Berman did not rule on whether Brady was involved in Deflategate in the first place.)The Patriots rejoiced, which they’ve gotten good at in the past decade and a half. And they should: Now that Brady is eligible to play the first four games of the season, the Patriots are even more likely to make the playoffs than they already were. ESPN Stats and Info projected1The projection is derived from Stats and Info’s Football Power Index, a nifty model that assigns every NFL team a strength rating for its offense, defense and special teams and then simulates the schedule 10,000 times, tracking how often each team wins its division, conference and even the Super Bowl. that without Brady for four games, the Patriots would make the playoffs 68 percent of the time. Now it’s 74 percent.
Trevon Logan, an associate professor of economics at Ohio State, poses for a photograph inside his office at Arps Hall. Logan is one of the head researchers involved with the recently created Sports and Society Initiative at OSU. Credit: Courtesy of Trevon LoganA newly formed organization of Ohio State professors and other distinct faculty are challenging the traditional views of sports through in-depth research.The Sports and Society Initiative at OSU performs data analytics research to look at the way sports interact with the economy and society. The collective, which is composed of professors from five different majors, began in October. Despite being just five months old, SSI is already making headway through its multiple areas of expertise. Its members work toward developing new findings in the realm of sports research. Janet Box-Steffensmeier, the divisional dean for social and behavioral sciences in the OSU College of Arts and Sciences, is one of the driving forces behind SSI. Her role is to support the ideas and research done by professors, as well as galvanize outside donors, public officials and OSU alumni about this newly thriving organization.“(SSI) wants Ohio State to be the place to go for research on sports,” Box-Steffensmeier said. One of the leading professors on the forefront of SSI’s research is Trevon Logan.Logan, an economics professor who has been at OSU for more than 10 years, is the group’s main member that is deeply examining the correlations between sports and economics.“There are social science and policy aspects to sports,” he said. “They are just never brought up in the public sphere and talked about.”That is where SSI comes in. Its goal is to challenge the conventional wisdom of sports, as well as provide a platform in which research and discussion of sports issues can take place.“We want to make Ohio State sports-related research as prominent as the sports themselves,” Logan said.His recent research dove deep into the issues of compensation for student-athletes. The professor began delving into years of OSU data in order to analyze the effects the school’s recruits have on the number of wins and bowl game appearances.Thereafter, Logan took that information of wins and appearances and reviewed their connections to the university’s football-related revenue. The research revealed, based on revenues and expenditures, that a five-star recruit is worth about $900,000 for a university, Logan said. That number dips to $400,000 for a four-star recruit.“If you think about that number based on a five-star and four-star recruit’s salary in the NFL, those are honestly not too crazy of numbers,” Logan said.Next, Logan examined the data around transferring and the frequency of players departing early for the professional ranks across FBS schools.This research found that 15 percent of college football players will transfer to another university. The most common transfer position, Logan said, was the quarterback position. Additionally, the professor found that 11 percent of players will leave early for the NFL draft.“When these numbers were generated, I was shocked,” he said.SSI members will present this research — and more — in the coming months at a multitude of events regarding policy and economics in the world of sports.One of these events includes a forum centered on the pay-to-play model in high school athletics. The event is titled, “Pay to Play: Who’s In, Who’s Out and How Much?” and it is set to be held at 9 a.m. on Feb. 26 in Pfahl Hall room 202.Discussing the issue, Logan said, will be a panel of professors and politicians, such as Ohio Secretary of State Jon Husted, State Sen. Cliff Hite, Scott Grant, a professor at the University of Findlay and Ohio University Professor David Ridpath.“The goal of this forum is to discuss ways to increase participation in high school athletics without increasing the costs,” Logan said.A separate gathering is slated to be held on April 15 to dissect compensation for collegiate student-athletes. This function will present sports experts and OSU alumni from across the nation to examine this subject, Logan said. Arguably the crown jewel of the panel will be Vince Doria, an OSU graduate and senior vice president and director of news at ESPN.Research SSI has conducted concerning this issue will be presented at the forum, too, Logan said.“(SSI and the panel) want to discuss the implications of compensation for student-athletes and what it would mean for the future of college athletics,” he said.Box-Steffensmeier possesses similar goals for these cutting-edge gatherings. Her hope is to further dialogue about these important national issues while promoting the faculty involved with SSI and the research it has performed.Additionally, she said she also wants to intrigue students who have a passion for sports and encourage them to contact those involved with SSI. She said she believes that students doing this could spark new ideas and issues to research.She said she holds big aspirations for the future of SSI. “I would love major news outlets to have a hot sports topic and know that we have an outstanding roster of faculty and students to call upon about the issue,” Box-Steffensmeier said.SSI might be in its early stages, but the collective is taking giant leaps, reaching new, unexplored heights in the vast expanse of college athletics. “Ohio State is on the move in regards to sports-related research,” Logan said. And with the passion, intelligence and ability of this small group of faculty members, there is no telling just how influential its work might be.
Tiger Woods will play in the Memorial Tournament in Dublin, Ohio, which begins on June 3, according to the Golf Channel.Woods was suffering from an inflamed joint in his neck and withdrew on the seventh hole of the final round of the Players Championship earlier this month. He recovered quickly with physical therapy and anti-inflammatory medicine.Woods has played in the Memorial 11 times, has taken four wins and is currently the defending champion.Since the controversy surrounding Woods’ extramarital affairs, he has played in three tournaments, finishing fourth at the Masters.Woods is expected to commit to the tournament later this week.
With the faintest of grins, Ohio State’s Lenzelle Smith Jr. made sure to note that former Kansas big man Thomas Robinson won’t be in Columbus to bully the Buckeyes in the paint Saturday. “That’s a huge relief,” the junior guard said, as if the thought of the hulking 6-foot-10, 240-pound forward evoked memories – perhaps agonizing ones – of what happened the last time the teams met. Largely thanks to his 19 points and eight boards in last year’s Final Four matchup, Robinson, who was selected as the 5th overall pick in the 2012 NBA Draft, helped ensure the anti-climatic end to what would’ve been OSU’s first national championship berth since 2007. Kansas coach Bill Self’s squad rallied from nine down at halftime to best the Buckeyes, 64-62, before falling to Kentucky on the sport’s biggest stage. Word of that might’ve taken some time to reach Smith Jr., though. “I didn’t continue to watch college basketball,” he said. Almost eight months later – and more than a year ago since the Buckeyes’ first setback against the Jayhawks in a similarly hyped early-season matchup last December – OSU (9-1) might have another chance at revenge. But Smith Jr., who admitted to have “been waiting for this game since our schedule got released” stopped short of calling Saturday’s game revenge. “My mindset’s not on revenge,” he said. “We’re two different teams right now.” Smith Jr. likely is right in his assessment of playing the Jayhawks without Robinson and the likes of former guard Tyshawn Taylor among others. Kansas (9-1) might not be quite the team it was last year – but maybe neither are the Buckeyes, which find themselves in a similar boat without the inside presence of former forward Jared Sullinger. “We’re trying to do our best with what we still have,” Smith Jr. said. And while the teams – in their personnel and dynamics – are different, the stakes aren’t quite as dissimilar. Similar to both meetings in 2011, Saturday’s showdown finds both clubs toward the top of the Associated Press poll-OSU at No. 7 and Kansas at No 9. In a 30- or 40-game season, such a contest seems to inevitably have an inability to genuinely shape the course of success for either program. But the outcome could serve as a projection. It did last season, after all. “Obviously you’re going to hopefully learn quite a bit about your basketball team as you get ready to head into January, February, March,” said OSU coach Thad Matta. “My job is to keep thinking big picture and knowing what lies ahead, but you use this game as an opportunity.” Even inside the confines of the Schottenstein Center, Matta maintains an “experienced, seasoned” Jayhawks squad pose a threat that will almost certainly challenge an OSU team that’s been largely untested – save for a 73-68 loss against Duke on Nov. 28 at Cameron Indoor Stadium. “I think Kansas right now is playing at a level as high as anybody in college basketball,” Matta said. “They start four seniors. Man, it’s like wow.” Smith Jr. said Saturday might just to come down to which team proves more durable. “I think for both teams this game is going to be a toughness match,” he said. He’s not alone in that theory, either. “Who’s going to be the tougher basketball team?” said OSU junior guard Aaron Craft. “They do a phenomenal job of getting second-chance points, grabbing 50-50 balls, really limiting possessions for us offensively. “We have to find a way to overcome that – if not match that, or be better (than) their intensity and their toughness. Because that’s what Kansas basketball is about.” The features Craft listed seem to be suggestive of a team matching its talent with as much effort. OSU, arguably, has struggled with that coming into its game against the Jayhawks, and it might have been best exemplified against a mediocre Big South squad Tuesday, when OSU eked out perhaps its most ugly win of the season, 66-55, against Winthrop. “I guess what we’ve learned is we’re not gonna be able to just come out here any given night and think we’re gonna play our best basketball,” Smith Jr. said. “We have to mentally prepare for that leading up to the game.” “It’s part of being a winner and we’ve lacked on some (of) that sometimes.”
The Ohio State men’s basketball team was off and running Saturday, getting out in transition whenever it could. Eventually, the Buckeyes ran away with the game too. The No. 7-ranked Buckeyes (8-1) turned aggressive team defense into easy transition scores against UNC Asheville (3-7), defeating the Bulldogs, 90-72, at the Schottenstein Center. “We watched film on (Asheville) over the past couple days, and we noticed that they didn’t stop the ball particularly well,” said sophomore forward Sam Thompson, who led OSU in scoring with a career-high 18 points. “We knew that if we could get stops we could get up the floor. We definitely tried to capitalize on that.” OSU dashed and darted for 26 points in transition and 25 points off of turnovers. Many of the Buckeyes’ fast breaks ended with easy buckets in the paint, where OSU enjoyed a 50-28 advantage against the Bulldogs. OSU not only seemed to be fast, but also efficient. Led by its two point guards, junior Aaron Craft and sophomore Shannon Scott, the Buckeyes dished a out season-high 25 assists. In 46 minutes of play, Craft and Scott combined for 17 assists and just one turnover. “They found the right guys,” said OSU coach Thad Matta. “They kept it simple and guys were finishing strong. That was definitely good basketball for us.” Matta said he is unsure how much the Buckeyes will look to push the tempo going forward, especially when they reach Big Ten play. The players, however, think this style of offense suits OSU’s strengths. “I really like this style and I think that it fits well for this team,” said junior guard Lenzelle Smith Jr., who scored 17 points on 7-10 shooting. “We have a lot of athletes on this team. Just getting out and going allows us to be on the top of our game.” When Craft and Scott are on the floor, OSU seems to have two ball handlers that can initiate a fast break and find open players on the run. Many times that player is Thompson, an elite athlete that seems to throw down a highlight-worthy dunk in every game. On Saturday, he chose to finish with a windmill slam off a full-court outlet pass from junior forward Deshaun Thomas. “I just wanted to do something to get some energy in the gym, pick the guys up, pick the crowd up,” Thompson said of the dunk, which sparked an eruption of applause in the Schott. “He’s always a threat in transition just in the terms of what he’s capable of doing,” said Matta of Thompson. “The speed that he has gets him down the floor as quick as anyone I’ve seen.” Matta might be hesitant to use a similar up-tempo attack in the future because it seemed to have an adverse effect on the team’s defense at times. Asheville shot 51.9 percent from the floor in the first half, and Bulldogs sophomore guard Keith Hornsby scored a career-high 26 points. “That can’t happen,” Matta said. “We’ve got to stick to our principles defensively.” Hornsby’s father is Grammy award-winning artist Bruce Hornsby, and Matta said he and the elder Hornsby exchanged text messages prior to Saturday’s game. “The funny thing is we were talking last night, texting, and he said ‘please let my son score,’” Matta said. “I think we did a very, very good job of that.” OSU hosts Winthrop on Tuesday, the team’s last test before the showdown with No. 9 Kansas next Saturday. Opening tip against Winthrop is scheduled for 7 p.m.
Left: Redshirt-freshman quarterback J.T. Barrett addresses the media Dec. 3 at the Woody Hayes Athletic Center. Barrett had surgery for a fractured ankle on Nov. 30, and has been ruled out for the rest of the season.Credit: Tim Moody / Sports editorRight: Redshirt-sophomore quarterback Cardale Jones (12) carries the ball during a game against Michigan on Nov. 29 at Ohio Stadium. OSU won, 42-28.Credit: Mark Batke / Photo editorWhen Ohio State takes the field in Indianapolis for the Big Ten title game, it will have two Heisman candidates on its sideline.But neither will be dressed to play.When senior quarterback Braxton Miller went down with a season-ending injury less than two weeks before the Buckeyes were set to open the 2014 campaign, many wondered how redshirt-freshman J.T. Barrett would fill his shoes.Just more than three months later, though, many of those same people are left wondering an eerily similar question.Barrett did more than fill Miller’s shoes — he outgrew them.The Wichita Falls, Texas, native broke multiple records set by Miller throughout the season, and broke the Big Ten conference record for most total touchdowns in a season with 45 before fracturing his ankle against Michigan, effectively ending his season.Now, redshirt-sophomore Cardale Jones must fill the shoes of Barrett, who is on some people’s shortlists for the Heisman Trophy.Despite Jones’ little experience, Barrett said he believes the Glenville High School product is capable of success as the Buckeye signal caller. “Cardale is a great player,” Barrett said Wednesday with his leg propped up in a cast. “I honestly feel like if I wasn’t starting this year, Cardale would have done the same things that I did this year. Cardale is that talented.”Jones stands an impressive 6-foot-5, 250-pounds, and has earned high praise from his coaches and teammates about his arm strength. Co-offensive coordinator and quarterbacks coach Tom Herman rated Jones’ arm strength as “eleventy-billion” on Monday and Barrett added that he had seen proof of it in practice.“You might want to take a look at warmups,” Barrett said. “Cardale might throw the ball 100 yards. I have seen him throw it I think 70-75 yards one time.”Senior tight end Jeff Heuerman compared Jones to one of OSU’s two Heisman candidates at quarterback, saying his throwing style is comparable to one more than the other.“He throws a little bit more like Braxton, I would say, than he does J.T.,” Heuerman said Wednesday. “He’s got a huge arm, you can tell that just watching practice or watching warmups. He can sling that thing.”Even though the players and coaches have been singing Jones’ praise over the last few days, Heuerman said there’s still been a transition period.“It’s just a different feel,” he said. “It takes you a day or two to usually adapt to it. Later on in the practice today we finished real strong in the team period with him throwing the ball, throwing it on time with our receivers and our receivers making catches.”OSU coach Urban Meyer said Wednesday that because of the talented skill players surrounding Jones, the Cleveland native’s first career start should not put too much pressure on him.“It’s a product of those around them a lot of times. Sometimes it’s not, but 95 percent of every quarterback, a good quarterback has a common denominator and that’s good players around him,” Meyer said. “And we have a veteran offensive line and some good players around him.”Heuerman said Jones has spent extra time with the receivers and skill players this week and added that the redshirt-sophomore had a good week of practice.“I don’t have any doubts that he’s gonna be fully mentally prepared for this game. I know our coaches and I know how they grind him,” Heuerman said. “He’s gonna know everything he needs to know and they’re gonna put him in the best situation to succeed. And it’ll be fun to watch.”With Jones making the first start of his college career, Barrett said he can relate all too well.“Right now, I feel like his world is kind of like how mine was at the beginning of the year,” Barrett said. “I know what that feels like, I definitely do.”In his first career start against the Navy Midshipmen, Barrett completed 12 of 15 passes for 226 yards and two scores through the air.That was Navy. The Wisconsin Badgers boast the second-best total defense in the country and Barrett said Jones will have be more prepared than he was before taking over for Miller. “I was learning on the fly and it was fast for myself, but his is going to be even faster,” Barrett said.The Buckeyes and Badgers are set to battle for the Big Ten title Saturday at 8:17 p.m. at Lucas Oil Stadium in Indianapolis.
OSU sophomore outfielder Troy Montgomery squares up to swing during a game against Louisville April 14 at Bill Davis Stadium. OSU won, 2-0.Credit: Ryan Cooper / Lantern reporter“He’s a dynamic player on both sides of the ball. He can change the game with his speed, power and glove.”That’s what senior pitcher Trace Dempsey had to say about the Ohio State baseball team’s sophomore outfielder, Troy Montgomery.Montgomery has had a massive impact in the Buckeyes’ 24 wins and serves as a consistent player at bat with a .322 batting average. He has almost doubled his runs from last season with 31 on 39 hits and has more than quadrupled his 2014 stolen base total with 18 on 20 attempts this season.“Montgomery’s a nightmare on the base paths for pitchers,” Dempsey said. “He’s really come through for us in the leadoff spot while making a lot of fantastic plays in the outfield to save us some runs.”For the sophomore, the word “athlete” has always been a part of his life. But after beginning to play baseball at the age of three, his father encouraged him to pursue the sport more seriously at the age of eight.“He really wanted me to play baseball, so I did and I love it,” Montgomery said. “My dad has been my biggest supporter my whole career and he pushed me the entire way.”Starting in Fortville, Ind., as a young child in T-ball and working his way up through the Indiana Bandits and Indiana Bulls travel leagues, Montgomery said he didn’t become confident till late in his career.“I really didn’t find myself in baseball till my sophomore year of high school. I got a little bit bigger and things just started to click for me,” Montgomery said.Things have been consistently clicking for Montgomery since he went into his freshman year at OSU as the No. 11 prospect according to the Prep Baseball Report. He played in 49 of the Buckeyes’ 58 games that season. Now in his second year in Columbus, Montgomery has earned the position as leadoff batter and continues to flourish on the field.“He’s matured from last season. Troy Montgomery is a really talented kid,” coach Greg Beals said. “He’s got pop in his bat, he can run, he can play defense and he can throw. He may be the best professional prospect on our team. He’s a full package player, he has it all.”Regardless of future potential, Montgomery said he’s focused on doing his part to help the Buckeyes win games.“My job is to get on second base and steal bags,” he said. “My job is to be on second base and allow (Connor) Sabanosh, (Pat) Porter and (Ronnie) Dawson to score me at some point in the inning,” Montgomery said.Beals said Montgomery is confident in his ability, but added he’s not a finished product.“That’s a kid that’s learning the game, that’s understanding the game,” Beals said. “And that’s the difference between playing hard and competing and right now he’s competing. He’s starting to figure out the little things that make a difference in how good you can be.”Montgomery said success is all about “believing and trusting yourself, your hands and your swing to get the job done.”But the main goal of winning games comes from a confidence and belief throughout the entire Buckeye roster and staff, he said.“Our team chemistry is unreal right now. People aren’t selfish, they’re going to work their hardest to get the job done for the team, to win as a team,” Montgomery said.The 2015 Buckeyes set their goal this year at 40 wins, a Big Ten title and a shot in the NCAAs, and for Montgomery, the success of OSU comes from the Buckeyes’ preparation and teamwork.“Preparation, working day in and day out, that’s how you find success,” Montgomery said. “You can’t win the game by yourself, baseball will not allow you to do that. So when you have a good group of guys that can back you, it makes everyone’s job so much easier.”As the Buckeyes prepare for another Big Ten series this weekend against the Nebraska Cornhuskers, Montgomery stressed the importance of focusing on the task at hand.“We just have to continue to take one game at a time and know our roles in the box and know our roles on the field,” Montgomery said. “And just continue to click on all cylinders and trust ourselves to get the job done and get these three wins.”The Buckeyes are scheduled to travel to Lincoln, Neb., with the three games set for Friday at 7:35 p.m., Saturday at 3:05 p.m. and Sunday at 2:05 p.m.
Emily Clark follows through on her swing, hitting a double against Wright State on Sep.24. Credit: Gretchen Rudolph | For The LanternThe No. 17 Ohio State softball team returns from its 11-game stretch in California with an 8-3 record with two of its three losses coming to No. 3 UCLA and No. 5 Oklahoma. Ohio State now enters Big Ten season with a 19-4 overall record.The Buckeyes competed in both the Louisville Slugger Invitational from March 9-11 and the Easton Invitational from March 16-18 with a pair of games on Tuesday against Loyola Marymount and one game against California State University, Northridge Wednesday that were not part of either invitational.The nine-day stretch of play began with the Buckeyes winning three of the four games that they played in the Louisville Slugger, beating every team but UCLA. In total, Ohio State outscored their opponents a combined 16-14, a number that improves to 16-4 not counting the 11-0 loss to UCLA in five innings.Ohio State then followed up that series with three wins, the first two coming in a double-header against Loyola Marymount on Tuesday and the third coming against California State, Northridge on Wednesday.Two of the seven games lasted eight innings, bringing the total of extra-inning games played by Ohio State this year to six out of the 23 total games played.The Buckeyes won the San Jose State matchup by three runs scored in the top of the eighth that San Jose State was not able to respond to.In Ohio State’s first game against Loyola Marymount, senior catcher Taylor White had a triple in the top of the fifth to put the Buckeyes on the board. Loyola Marymount tied the game at one in the bottom of the seventh, but junior infielder Emily Clark homered in the top of the eighth to put the Buckeyes ahead and secure the Ohio State victory.Ohio State split the Easton Invitational, dropping the series opener to Grand Canyon and the series finale to Oklahoma. It defeated both California State Fullerton and California State University, Northridge in the middle two games.The team as well as head coach Kelly Kovach Schoenly foreshadowed that reigning national champion Oklahoma would provide the Buckeyes with a challenge. The Sooners, did just that, holding the Buckeyes to only two hits and winning 5-0. Standouts Starting in all 11 games, junior shortstop Lilli Piper recorded 19 hits and 16 RBI with a batting average of .500. The pitching staff combined to record 59 strikeouts and post a 2.82 ERA.Looking ForwardOhio State open conference play when it heads to Bloomington, Indiana, on Friday to take on the Hoosiers in a three-game series.