#29 Ohio State Softball 2017 Preview

Ohio State Buckeyes
Overall Rank: #29
Conference Rank: #4 Big Ten
 Ohio State Logo
Ohio State has been a pretty consistent program, but up until the 2016 season, the Buckeyes have not been to the NCAA Tournament since the 2010 season. Thanks to a very talented senior class Ohio State returned to the NCAA Tournament with a trip to the Knoxville Regional and 34 wins.  Looking ahead to the 2017 season, a very potent offensive lineup led by outfielder Alex Bayne will put the Buckeyes in a position to outscore most of their opponents on a game in and game out basis. The key is going to be the pitching staff and its ability to become more dominant and consistent.
2016: 34-20-1, 13-9-1
2016 Postseason: NCAA
Coach: Kelly Kovach Schoenly
Key Departed Players:
Camni Prantl, C/OF, .387 BA, 9 HR, 44 RBI
Maddy McIntyre, IF, .316 BA, 4 HR, 32 RBI
Erika Leonard, C/IF, .275 6 HR, 32 RBI
Key Returning Players:
Alex Bayne, OF, .364 BA, 19 HR, 49 RBI
Emily Clark, C/UTL, .324 BA, 6 HR, 27 RBI
Taylor White, C/OF, .307 BA, 6 HR, 32 RBI
Shelby Hursh, P, 177.1 IP, 2.88 ERA, 199 SO
Lena Springer, P, 79.2 IP, 2.72 ERA, 36 SO
Morgan Ray, P, 63.0 IP, 4.00 ERA, 46 SO
Ohio State is going to consistently be able to hit the ball out of the ballpark as Alex Bayne will be one of the best all-around power hitters in the nation and she will have plenty of protection in the lineup. Emily Clark and Taylor White combined for 12 homeruns and 59 runs batted in last season so opposing pitchers will have a very difficult time containing the Buckeyes since they have plenty of weapons, despite the loss of Camni Prantl to graduation. Shelby Hursh and Lena Springer have the experience in the circle as the seniors and now is the time for them to take a bigger step forward with their command of the strike zone. Hursh walked 128 batters in 177.1 innings and Springer walked 45 batters in 79.2 innings of work, but only struck out 36 batters. These numbers for Hursh and Springer will be in great shape if they can have a strikeout to walk ratio of closer to 2 to 1. Morgan Ray is another pitcher to keep an eye on. Ray worked 63 innings last season, had a 4.00 earned run average with 44 walks and 46 strikeouts. So if Ray can become consistent and pitch to contact to put the ball in play, that will be a big help for the Ohio State defense. The Buckeyes only committed 39 errors and that number should drop with fewer baserunners on the bases. Look for roughly about 35 wins again in 2017 and return trip to the NCAA Tournament for Ohio State.
Projected Postseason: NCAA Softball Tournament