Ohio State baseball wrapped up its fall ball schedule last week with the annual Scarlet and Gray series, the final opportunity for players to show coaches they belong on the field next season before preseason practices begin in January. The Buckeyes, who finished 35-20 in 2015, are looking to build upon a season that started very well before ending in a late collapse.
The team the was nationally-ranked at the end of April for the first time since 2009, and in the discussion to host an NCAA tournament regional. But a 4-10 finish, including losing ten of their final eleven Big Ten games, ultimately sealed the Buckeyes' fate, as they missed the postseason.
On Thursday, Ohio State released its 2016 schedule, which includes a few marquee non-conference opponents, as well as a slate of Big Ten games that will make a sixth consecutive trip to the conference tournament a challenge. The season gets underway on February 19th.
"We are going to see some solid competition to start the year in three early-season tournaments," head coach Greg Beals said.
Those tournaments will all take the Buckeyes down south, and include the Historic Dodgertown Classic in Vero Beach, the Coastal Carolina Tournament in Myrtle Beach, and the Snowbird Classic in Port Charlotte. Contests against squads like Duke and Coastal Carolina in the early season shows the commitment of the program to play high quality opponents and raise the stature of the program nationally.
The remaining non-conference slate features a trip to UNLV and home series against UAB and Florida Atlantic, as well as the usual variety of MAC and Ohio opponents in Xavier, Ohio, Toledo, Cincinnati, and Kent State.
The Buckeyes, who finished 13-11 in Big Ten play in 2015, good for a seventh place finish and a trip to the conference tournament at Target Field in Minneapolis, will face a tough conference schedule. Home series include last season's Big Ten tournament champion Michigan, Iowa, and the first-ever trip to Columbus for Rutgers, while the team will be on the road against defending regular season champs Illinois, Maryland, Purdue, and Minnesota. The road to conference contention will be fierce.
"I think our conference is going to be strong again," Beals said.
The Big Ten tournament, which will be played May 25-29, will once again return to Omaha's TD Ameritrade Stadium.
"We are excited to return to Omaha for tournament play, home of the College World Series," Beals said. "TD AmeriTrade Stadium is an incredible venue for college baseball."
Ohio State's full baseball schedule can be found here.