COLUMBUS, Ohio – The Ohio State softball team kicks off its 2018 season this weekend when it travels to Boca Raton, Fla., for five games against four opponents as part of the FAU “First Pitch” Classic, beginning Friday.
Ohio State vs. NIU | Friday, Feb. 9 | 9 a.m. ET
Ohio State vs. Duke | Friday, Feb. 9 | 1:30 p.m. ET
Ohio State at Florida Atlantic | Saturday, Feb. 10 | 6 p.m. ET
Ohio State vs. NIU | Saturday, Feb. 10 | 8:15 p.m. ET
Ohio State vs. Boston University | Sunday, Feb. 11 | 11:15 a.m. ET
2017 Record: 33-21, 15-9
Postseason: Lost in MAC Tournament
Top Returning Hitter: Jessica Rio, .335, 35 runs, 55 hits, 10 RBI
Top Returning Pitcher: Tara Thacker, 10-11, 139.1 IP, 2.36 ERA, 92 Ks
2018 is the inaugural season of the Blue Devils’ program
2017 Record: 35-21, 15-9
Postseason: Lost in Conference USA Tournament
Top Returning Hitter: Emily Lochten, .408, 58 runs, 64 hits, 41 RBI, 18 HR
Top Returning Pitcher: Tatum Buckley, 10-8, 121.0 IP, 2.43 ERA, 51 Ks
2017 Record: 25-27, 14-3
Postseason: Lost in Patriot League Tournament
Top Returning Hitter: Jilee Schanda, .343, 33 runs, 57 hits, 25 RBI, 4 HR
Top Returning Pitcher: Kali Magane, 13-11, 155.0 IP, 3.03 ERA, 70 Ks
“Our goal is to bring the new players into the system quickly and build this new team’s identity,” said head coach Kelly Kovach Schoenly. “Our practices have been very productive and the energy is building to get out there against our first opponent. Traveling, spending weekends and competing on the road for the first two months of our season is such a unique experience. It allows us to bond and build that trust we need to make a championship run.”
Ohio State is one of five Big Ten teams to be ranked or receiving votes in both the USA Softball and NFCA Top 25 polls. Individually, junior shortstop Lilli Piper was placed on the USA Softball Collegiate Player of the Year Top 50 “Watch List”. She was also named a College Sports Madness third team preseason All-American.
In four of the last five years, Ohio State has started the season on the right foot. Last year, the Buckeyes won three of four games at the Texas A&M Aggie Classic and had the same results two years ago at the LSU Tiger Classic. The squad swept four games at the Charleston Southern Tournament in 2015 and went 4-1 - with a win over No. 8 Georgia - at the Bulldogs' season-opening tournament in 2013.
- Ohio State was ranked or receiving votes in the ESPN.com/USA Collegiate Softball Top 25 poll for every week during the regular season.
- 2017 featured 35 wins, the most in a season since 2010.
- Ohio State had a 15-8 mark in the Big Ten to finish third in the conference standings.
- The team advanced to the Big Ten Championship game for the first time since 2007.
- The Buckeyes earned their second-straight trip to the Knoxville Regional.
- Lilli Piper finished the season hitting .420 with 18 home runs and 53 RBI. Her 18 home runs is just one shy of the single season record, held by Sam Marder and Alex Bayne.
- Ohio State had five All-Big Ten and five NFCA All-Region selections. The five all-region choices tied the single-season high set in 1994 and 2002.
UNDER KOVACH SCHOENLY
Sixth-year head coach Kelly Kovach Schoenly is the eighth head coach in Ohio State history. In her 11th year as a collegiate head coach, she is 351-260-2 overall and 163-108-1 at the helm for the Buckeyes.
The Scarlet & Gray will visit Raleigh, N.C. to compete in the Big Ten/ACC Challenge on Feb. 16-18. Ohio State will face N.C. State and Louisville.