Megan Choinacky was a superstar on the softball field at Roncalli, one of the top players in the Rebels’ history.

The Greenwood native possessed enough self-awareness to know that similar success wasn’t going to come automatically with a major college program.

Indeed, Choinacky has had to bide her time, but she’s gradually carving out a niche for herself as a sophomore at Ohio State.

Last spring, she appeared in just 18 games — exclusively as a pinch runner. Choinacky did score five times, including the go-ahead run in a 12-10 win against Penn State, but she went the entire year without a plate appearance.

Now, she’s getting a taste of collegiate pitching for the first time. Choinacky had appeared in 15 of the Buckeyes’ first 2 games through last weekend, including six starts in the designated player role.

“Coming in as a freshman, I didn’t expect much more than being a pinch runner,” Choinacky said. “With the graduation of four and the spots opening up, I think hard work at practice and just capitalizing on opportunities in practices and scrimmages allowed for that.”

The main difference between her freshman season and now, other than the additional openings in the lineup, was Choinacky’s improvement as a hitter — something she figured was a necessity if she wanted some more playing time.

“Since this is such an offensive game, I feel like the best nine hitters are going to be the ones playing,” she said. “So to have that advantage, that was my main focus over the summer and the offseason.”

In her first 17 collegiate at-bats, Choinacky — who first became an Buckeye fan watching their men’s basketball team in the Big Ten tournament — has collected four hits, including a double, for a .235 average. She has scored a run and driven in two others.

Off the field, she’s managed to keep just as busy. Choinacky is majoring in pharmaceutical sciences, and she plans to go to graduate school for pharmacy. Handling the academic workload can be difficult given the time demands of playing a Division I sport, but she’s not complaining.

“Balancing hard science classes and softball is sometimes challenging,” Choinacky said, “but if you love what you do, you kind of make it work.”

Now that she’s managed to earn some time with the bat in her hand, the next step in Choinacky’s evolution at OSU will be to crack what is currently a very crowded outfield. With a senior and a junior starting ahead of her there, spots should be there for the taking in the future.

Expect Choinacky to be ready to pounce on the next available opportunity.

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Ryan O'Leary is sports editor for the Daily Journal. He can be reached at roleary@dailyjournal.net or 317-736-2715.