Ohio State softball gears up for Big Ten tournament

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It’s officially the playoffs for college softball, aka one of the most exciting times of the year for sports! This year in particular, the Buckeyes have had a very successful regular season and are looking to continue doing damage in the Big Ten and the NCAA Tournament.

Ohio State closed out its regular season with a double sweep against Maryland on Sunday. The women definitely ended their season on a high note, with hits from everyone in the roster and the pitching staff supporting them. Additionally, a few big records were set, one by left-handed ace Lexie Handley and another by head coach Kelly Kovach Schoenly.

Even though this is his first and only season with the Buckeyes, Handley has certainly made his presence known by leading his team in the circle and writing his name in the history books. She broke Ohio State’s single-season strikeout record that previously stood for 15 years, since Jamee Juarez set it in 2007. Handley eclipsed the old record of 240 strikeouts at bat by hitting one more than Juarez, finishing with 241 – but she still has the playoffs to add to that total.

Handley also became Ohio State’s first 20-game winner since Kim Reeder won 21 in 2009. The single-season winning record is also held by Reeder, who won 26 games in 2008. Sunday scored the fifth game this season that Handley has knocked out 13 batters. She finished the regular season with a 20-8 record with a 2.58 ERA in 192.2 innings pitched.

As for the head honcho, Schoenly won his 300th game at Ohio State in Game 2 of the doubleheader. She is the fastest coach in program history to reach that mark, as it took her 486 games. Her career record with the Buckeyes now stands at 300-185-1, and she’s averaged 33 wins a year over her nine full seasons.

Schoenly has amassed a fair amount of new players this season, including five who have worked their way into the everyday roster. However, she crafted a game plan that led to a successful season, finishing with a 33-14 overall record and a 13-9 conference record. Ohio State has won five of its seven Big Ten weekend series.

The Buckeyes secured the No. 6 seed in the Big Ten tournament and will face No. 11 Purdue first on Wednesday. Northwestern took the No. 1 seed overall, followed by Nebraska, Illinois, Michigan and Maryland. The Wildcats (39-9, 19-4 Big Ten) have been completely dominant this season, but Illinois and Michigan are just one more win than the Buckeyes.

With the Big Ten being extremely competitive this season, it will be interesting to see how this tournament unfolds. Northwestern won the regular season title, but the tournament title is totally up for grabs. The Buckeyes are building momentum after two solid wins over the Terps, so we’ll see if they can continue this week.

Ohio State takes on the Boilermakers Wednesday at 1:30 p.m. It will be televised on the Big Ten Network and streamed on the Fox Sports app. If they win, they will face Illinois on Thursday at the same time and on the same channel.

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