#25 Ohio State Softball 2018 Preview

Ohio State Buckeyes
Overall Rank: #25
Conference Rank: #4 Big Ten
Ohio State had a pretty solid 2017 season as they won 35 games, including 15 Big Ten games, and once again returned to the NCAA Tournament. Unfortunately, the Buckeyes had a short stay in the postseason as they were eliminated from the Knoxville Regional in two games with losses to USC Upstate and Longwood. However, the future is going to continue to be bright in Columbus as softball is only going to continue to grow at Ohio State. This is due to the Big Ten Network and its extensive coverage nationally, which has helped expand the reach of the Buckeyes program in their quest to bring top players to the program.
2017: 35-18, 15-8
2017 Postseason: NCAA
Coach: Kelly Kovach Schoenly
Key Departed Players:
Alex Bayne, OF, .292 BA, 14 HR, 32 RBI, 7 SB
Anna Kirk, IF, .262 BA, 6 HR, 24 RBI
Shelby Hursh, P, 2.30 ERA, 15-5 W-L, 133.2 IP, 94 BB, 115 SO
Lena Springer, P, 2.74 ERA, 8-4 W-L, 74.0 IP, 42 BB, 53 SO
Key Returning Players:
Lilli Piper, IF, .421 BA, 18 HR, 53 RBI, 13 SB
Emily Clark, C/UTIL, .333 BA, 10 HR, 45 RBI
Taylor White, C/OF, .281 BA, 10 HR, 42 RBI, 14 SB
Becca Gavin, UTIL, .280 BA, 3 HR, 18 RBI
Maddie Marotti, IF, .275 BA, 0 HR, 5 RBI
Bri Betschel, OF, .275 BA, 0 HR, 7 RBI
Ashley Goodwin, IF, .254 BA, 2 HR, 19 RBI
Morgan Ray, P, 2.35 ERA, 6-5 W-L, 62.2 IP, 37 BB, 50 SO
Shelby McCombs, P, 2.62 ERA, 6-3 W-L, 69.1 IP, 44 BB, 54 SO
There is a very nice balanced mix of opponents in the non-conference schedule for Ohio State. They will be able to ease into the season with some winnable games in the first couple of weekend tournaments. Spring Break will bring on a trip out to California where the Buckeyes will play teams like Oklahoma, UCLA, San Diego State, and Cal State Fullerton. This gauntlet should prepare Ohio State very well for the Big Ten schedule. Scoring runs won’t be a problem for the Buckeyes as they bring the back the trio of Lilli Piper, Emily Clark, and Taylor White in 2018. This trio, led by Piper, can absolutely dominate at times as they combined for 38 homeruns, 140 runs batted in, and 27 stolen bases last spring. The pitching has some work to as the walk to strikeout for the staff in 2017 was a little too close. Morgan Ray and Shelby McCombs will be back to lead the rotation in 2018 and both pitchers had low earned run averages under three runs per game. They will need to produce more of the same this spring with fewer walks. If the pitching can take another step forward this season, then Ohio State will be in the mix for the conference title.
Projected Postseason: NCAA Softball Tournament