Ohio State senior Anna Kirk has learned to field ground balls and make plays in pressure situations the way her new mentor learned to reload his firearm — “slow to smooth, smooth to fast.”

It might seem like a jarring analogy without context, but leadership coach Scott Daly, a former U.S. Navy Seal of 13 years, has his ways of illustrating points to the Buckeyes’ softball team.

“He was talking about how to reload his gun,” said Kirk, an infielder from Hartley. “When that pressure situation comes, he has done it so many times that it’s second nature. He can do it smooth and quick.

“In taking reps in practice, I’ve worked on that. Now, when there’s a (sacrifice) bunt, I’m throwing more often to second base to (get the lead runner). Slow to smooth, smooth to fast.”

The Buckeyes (35-16) open a double-elimination NCAA regional today against South Carolina-Upstate in Knoxville, Tennessee. The Big Ten tournament runners-up believe they owe part of their success to Daly and Focus 3, which offers athletic teams and businesses a systematic means to improve, among other qualities, discipline, concentration, belief and teamwork.

The company’s leadership coaches have been working with various Ohio State programs for four years, most notably the football team. Focus 3 has branched out, Daly said, to include Washington’s football team. Former Buckeyes offensive coordinator Tom Herman has employed Focus 3 at Houston and Texas, where he now coaches.

The Ohio State athletic department asked softball coach Kelly Kovach Schoenly if she wanted to incorporate Focus 3 teachings this season, and she jumped at the opportunity. She met with Daly last fall and they built a “culture playbook.”

At the heart of the system is a simple formula: E (event) + R (response) = O (outcome). But each coach takes the framework and tailors it to a team’s needs.

“We spoke about issues we had in the past,” Schoenly said. “We had to be super honest and vulnerable and tell him everything. It’s hard because it’s an outsider, but you learn to trust him.”

Daly met with players on an almost weekly basis early in the season, sometimes sharing personal stories. A poor swimmer as a child, Daly taught himself to improve to achieve his goal of becoming a Navy Seal through discipline.

The softball team stresses such principles as “prepare with purpose” and “intelligent execution” and “act with guided emotion.”

Schoenly said pitcher Shelby Hursh has learned to rein in emotions when she thought umpires were squeezing the strike zone. Kirk hit a home run against Michigan relying on “intelligent execution.” She had struck out on an inside pitch on a previous at-bat and correctly surmised the pitcher would try to beat her with an outside pitch in the next trip to the plate. Kirk’s confidence in the field is attributed to “prepare with purpose.”

“Our goal is to help them pause — to assess the situation and focus on what’s important in that moment,” Daly said. “That can happen in a split second or over time. We are trying to give them that skill set that they can apply it over and over. These girls do a great job of managing their response.”