Sandwisch, Jensen taking talents to collegiate ranks

Yaneek Smith

Kaytlynn Sandwisch and Olivia Jensen have softball ingrained in their DNA.
        Both love playing the sport and have a special connection with it, as evidenced by their play on the diamond and commitment to the sport. The two of them helped lead the Oak Harbor softball program to new heights and now they are ready to play collegiately.
        Sandwisch is taking her talents to NAIA Lourdes University in Sylvania. Jensen, meanwhile, will play at NCAA Division II University of Findlay.
        Oak Harbor coach Chris Rawski believes his former players will be ready when they arrive on the collegiate diamond.
        "I think Kaytlynn will do big things, I think she'll be able to adapt to the college game pretty well. She's strong and athletic, which you have to be to be able to play at (the collegiate) level," said Rawski. "Olivia will learn, she'll get better, and she'll adapt to the college game. Defensively, I think she's college-ready, 100 percent. For any high school kid going to college, offense is where you need to adjust, and she'll get that in the fall. I fully expect her to be a big-time contributor."
        Sandwisch will major in intermediate education and looks forward to becoming a teacher one day.
        "I enjoy helping kids and teaching kids. Teaching is what I want to go into because I want to better other people and help them," she said. "I enjoy helping everyone. I love (teaching). I kind of only looked at Lourdes, I like how they focus on education. Your purpose is to go to class. I know I wanted to stay (close) to home."
        Part of the reason Jensen chose to attend Findlay is because of its animal science/pre-veterinary program. She also enjoyed getting to know the head coach of the Oilers, Danielle Lowe, and the rest of the team.
        "Findlay has one of the best animal science programs around, which originally got me interested in the university. When I met Coach Dani and the team, they were very welcoming and helpful, which made for a family-like atmosphere," said Jensen. "I'm very excited to play at the next level, all while pursing my dream of majoring in an animal science/pre-veterinary program."
        Both players have received a great deal of support from their families during their softball careers.
        "Without my family, I don't think I would still be playing. My mom always took me to everything," said Sandwisch. "My dad, Jason, was a farmer, so he couldn't come to many things in the summer, but when I got to high school, he came to my games."
        Jensen was fortunate to have tremendous support from her family, too.
        "More than I could ever put into words. Anything I needed, they got me, from Gatorade to new cleats, my mom made sure I was taken care of," said Jensen. "My siblings also fought through those hot days on the weekends to come watch me play."
        Sandwisch is coming off a season that saw her earn All-Ohio honors. She hit .476 to go with one home run, 30 RBIs, 28 runs and 12 doubles, and had an OPS (on-base plus slugging) of 1.221. She had an OPS of over 1.000 during each of her final three seasons.
        Jensen, meanwhile, saw her batting average improve drastically as a senior. She went from hitting .287 to .405 and finished with an OPS of 1.023. Rawski credits the work she did during the offseason with one of his assistant coaches, Brian Schultz.
        "He spent much of the offseason working with her one-on-one and she dedicated herself to being a better hitter. She was first-team in the SBC, all-district and she had no strikeouts," Rawski said. "She went from being a pretty dependable hitter to being a great hitter. She worked with Brian a couple times per week just to get it right."
        Jensen and Sandwisch teamed with fellow seniors Dani Epling (.377 BA, 1 HR, 22 RBI, 24 R) and Chloe Roosen (.432 BA, 1 HR, 12 RBI), who transferred to Oak Harbor following her sophomore season, to win two district championships and two Sandusky Bay Conference Bay Division titles.
        "Three of those four were four-year varsity players. They're pretty special, they're going to be tough to replace, but they've also set the standard for some of the young kids," said Rawski. "They left the program better off."
        Jensen is proud of what she and her fellow seniors accomplished.
        "As seniors, we were very aware of the role we played this season when it came to leadership. We made sure every girl was confident and knew they could come to us with any problem they were facing, whether it was softball-related or not. We made sure we had their back," she said. "Having us to lean on caused us to become closer and trust each other as teammates and become very close with one another."


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