Abbey Bensing, a pharmacy student at Ohio Northern University and 2009 Lakeview graduate, made striking girls out look easy during her high school career.
At Lakeview, she struck out every batter in 2008 against Brookfield and holds numerous school and Ohio High School Athletic Association records.
Upon finishing her four years at ONU, she was honored with a nomination and chosen to pitch in an all-star exhibition game with the Akron Racers. The game is for seniors that have exhausted their NCAA eligibility. The nominating process included various universities from Ohio.
"I felt Abbey was a great competitor for us this year and has such a tremendous love for the game that she would be a good candidate for the exhibition game," Hess said. "Once she was nominated there is a separate selection committee that takes the nominations from around Ohio and makes their selections."
"It was such a compliment that coach Hess thought so highly of me and my talent to have taken the time to nominate me," Bensing said. "I was thrilled when I found out I actually got picked. It was like she gave me one more chance to play the game I love. It wasn't over just yet."
While in high school, she attended the Ohio Northern softball camps. When she found out she could also major in pharmacy, it sealed the deal for her and she was determined to attend school there.
Abbey Bensing Ohio Northern
Alma Mater: Lakeview, 2009
The skinny:?Finished with a 27-16 career record with a 3.51 ERA and 199 strikeouts in 302.1 innings in her 59 career appearances ... Was named second team all-conference in 2012 ... Ranks sixth all-time at ONU with 199 career strikeouts
"It worked out really well, actually, with ONU and my major," Bensing said. "I knew that I wanted to be a pharmacy major from a very young age. Sophomore year, I went to a softball clinic and had a meeting with the dean of pharmacy. I would be able to still do both if I went there. I knew that I wanted to be there and loved the coach. It was almost like it was meant to be. It was an opportunity that I couldn't turn down."
During her time at Ohio Northern University, she posted fantastic numbers for the Polar Bears. In her 59 career appearances, she was 27-16 with an ERA of 3.51. She had 199 strikeouts in 302.1 innings, which puts her at sixth all time at ONU. In 2012, during her junior season, she was named second team All-Ohio Athletic Conference.
Bensing's determination paid off when trying to garner the coach's attention.
"At the clinic, I just went up to the coach and said that I was interested, gave her a skills video and sent e-mails," Bensing said. "I made it known that I wanted to play. After that, she would show up at different places and watch me play. Also, when I went to the pitching clinics my sophomore, junior and senior years, I would talk to them. You really have to go to them and make things happen."
Her transition to college ball took a toll on her in the beginning. Not only did she have to adjust to playing at that level, but she also had to learn to manage her homework as well. Her pharmacy program requires a great amount of studying.
"I struggled a little freshman year," Bensing said. "Studying is different in college because you have to study every night but my coach had mandatory study tables, which really helped me a lot. Playing in college with the traveling was hard to get focused on your studies when you're excited about the games but my coaches made sure that we weren't slacking."
But, the longer that she participated in the program, the more she improved.
"Freshman year, I had problems controlling emotions and by senior year I conquered that," Bensing said. "I wanted to be the person that people knew was going to get that last batter out. My pitching coach made sure that I was prepared for every game. You really don't have that in high school, the leadership of someone to tell you about controlling your emotions. If you show anything, the batters will feed off of that and take your number and let you know they will be hitting it out."
Hess worked with her the past year and sang her praises.
"Abbey brought a tremendous work ethic to the table," Hess said. "Anything she was asked to do she did. She had high expectations of herself and was always her toughest critic. Abbey was the type of player who found a way and not an excuse."
This year, the Polar Bears ended the season with a 13-15 record, 9-9 in the conference. With Bensing starting in 16 games in the circle, she led her team with 54 strikeouts.
"Abbey was an excellent leader for the program this year both on and off the field," Hess said. "She was a great role model for our freshmen and stepped into a big role on the mound this year. Abbey is a great success story for the ONU program showing how with focus, dedication, and a great work ethic, a student-athlete can compete on the field while excelling in the classroom."
She not only goes to her games, travels with her team, attends practice and class, but she does all of that while maintaining a 3.4 GPA.
"Playing all four years and still getting good grades I would say is my biggest achievement," Bensing said. "People didn't think I was going to last doing this and pharmacy school. I have kept my grade point average above a 3.4. I literally did not have a life. I would wake up, study, go to class, go to softball practice, study, and repeat. But it was the best four years of my life and I would not change anything for the world."
Bensing will finish her last two years in the pharmacy program at ONU. Although she will not be able to play, she plans on attending all the home games to show them the support that she was given the past four years.