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Ohio State softball’s 2-0 start to the 2018 season included a grand slam

Plus, Buckeye baseball is about to begin and some second-year NFL players are being recognized.

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COLLEGE SOFTBALL: FEB 19 Ohio State v Louisville Photo by Andy Mead/YCJ/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

“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 Buckeyes

The Ohio State softball season got started Friday morning in Florida, with the Buckeyes taking on NIU in their debut matchup for the 2018 season. After a slow start through two innings, Ohio State’s Ashley Goodwin nailed a 3-RBI double to left-center to put the Buckeyes up 4-1.

As if that lead wasn’t solid enough, the fourth inning saw the kind of moment that you build an entire season around: it’s the bottom of the fourth, bases loaded. Sophomore Emily Clark steps up to the plate. Strike 1. Clark readies for the second pitch, connects, and IT’S OUT OF HERE FOLKS! GRAND SLAM! Clark adds four more runs to the scoreboard, putting the Buckeyes up 8-1. Clark would continue her dominance, connecting on a double in the sixth inning, bringing shortstop Lilli Piper in for her third score of the game. Ohio State finished 9-1 in their first action of the day, and set the foundation for the type of run they hope to make in 2018.

The Buckeyes’ second matchup of the double-header was against Duke. This season marks the first in Blue Devils’ history where the school has featured a softball program. Despite being relatively new to the world of competitive collegiate softball, Duke held the Buckeyes to a close 2-1 score heading into the third inning. But, Piper nailed a double down the right field line, bringing home two, to put the Buckeyes up 3-2 heading into the fourth.

Ohio State would score two more before the final at-bat, for a 5-2 win, finishing their first day of the 2018 season at 2-0. The Buckeyes will continue their first tournament of the season through the weekend, facing tournament host FAU on Saturday evening followed by a second go-around with NIU, before finishing up on Sunday against Boston University.

“I see a great deal of maturity and growth in our entire ball club. I talked about last year one time and that was it. I think there’s a sense of urgency. They know that we need to do better as a program. There’s a significant difference in the drive this ball club has.”

-Ohio State baseball head coach Greg Beals, via Ohio State Buckeyes

With softball season now underway, it’s just a matter of time before the Ohio State baseball team sees the first pitch of 2018. This year’s team has a lot of pressure already on its shoulders, coming off of a 2017 season in which the team went 22-34 overall. This year though, the team returns 22 letter-winners, in addition to 10 newbies.

Opening day is still a week away — Feb. 16-18 at the Snowbird Classic in Port Charlotte, Florida — but Coach Beals and players are optimistic about their chances. (Especially given the schedule the coach has put together for the year.) He’s filled the schedule with tough, regional matchups that should keep the team in the hunt for an at-large bid for the NCAA Tournament.

One of their strengths this season should be on the pitchers mound. During the Buckeyes’ impressive Big Ten tournament run in 2016, six of the pitchers still on the 2018 roster saw significant innings. Leading the way this season will be fifth-year captains Adam Niemeyer and Kyle Michalik, who have made 39 and 61 career appearances, respectively.

“Sifting through the plethora of data we have at our fingertips at PFF and coinciding with the release of our Top 101 players from the 2017 season, PFF’s Mark Chichester takes a look at the highest-graded second-year players regardless of position from the 2017-18 campaign.”

-Mark Chichester, ProFootball Focus

As ProFootball Focus took a look at the best second-year players in the NFL, it’s no surprise that a couple of former Ohio State players made the list — especially given two years ago featured a history-making draft class for the Buckeyes. The two Ohio State alumni to earn the honors: Michael Thomas and Joey Bosa.

Thomas has been setting and besting offensive records throughout his two years in the league, and as scary as it sounds, he’s probably just getting started. One of the most targeted receivers to ever begin his NFL career, Thomas has claimed 196 receptions over the past two regular seasons, good for 2,382 receiving yards and 14 touchdowns.

According to PFF, Thomas had the third best contested catch rating among NFL receivers in 2017, snagging 56.3% of the balls he battled for. Thomas might not be a red zone target for the Saints, but with an average of 12.2 yards per catch, he’s almost always good to move the chains.

The second Buckeye on the list of top 10 sophomores in the NFL is former Defensive Rookie of the Year winner Joey Bosa. Another former Ohio State player to enter the league and start re-writing the record books from Day 1, Bosa -- as part of one of the best pass-rushing duos in the entire league — has been productive in his two years, claiming 23.0 sacks (12.5 in 2017) and 83 solo tackles.

Both Thomas and Bosa should find their names among the best in the league for years to come.

All Ohio State Teams’ Weekend Schedule

Team Match-up When
Team Match-up When
Women's Track & Field @ Vanderbilt Invite (Nashville) Friday, All Day
Men's Track & Field @ Music City Challenge (Nashville) Friday, All Day
Men's Golf @ Big Ten Match Play Championship Friday, All Day
Softball vs. NIU @ FAU “First Pitch” Classic Friday, 9 am
Softball vs. Duke @ FAU “First Pitch” Classic Friday, 1:30 pm
Pistol Collegiate Pistol Sectionals Friday, TBA
Women's Gymnastics vs Penn State Friday, 6 pm
Men's Gymnastics vs Penn State Friday, 6 pm
Men's Tennis Texasm A&M Friday, 6 pm
Women's Hockey @ Minnesota State Friday, 7:07 pm
Men's Hockey @ Notre Dame Friday, 7:35 pm
Synchornized Swimming @ Richmond Saturday, All Day
Women's Swimming Ohio State Winter Invitational Saturday, All Day
Men's Swimming Ohio State Winter Invitational Saturday, All Day
Women's Track & Field @ Vanderbilt Invite (Nashville) Saturday, All Day
Men's Track & Field @ Music City Challenge (Nashville) Saturday, All Day
Men's Golf @ Big Ten Match Play Championship Saturday, All Day
Men's Lacrosse Boston University Saturday, Noon
Women's Lacrosse @ Navy Saturday, 1 pm
Pistol Collegiate Pistol Sectionals Saturday, TBA
Women's Hockey @ Minnesota State Saturday, 3:07 pm
Men's Basketball Iowa Saturday, 6 pm
Softball vs. FAU @ FAU “First Pitch” Classic Saturday, 6 pm
Men's Volleyball Fort Wayne Saturday, 7pm
Men's Hockey @ Notre Dame Saturday, 7:05 pm
Softball vs. NIU @ FAU “First Pitch” Classic Saturday, 8:15 pm
Synchornized Swimming @ William & Mary Sunday, All Day
Women's Swimming Ohio State Winter Invitational Sunday, All Day
Men's Swimming Ohio State Winter Invitational Sunday, All Day
Women's Golf @ Northrop Grumman Regional Challenge Sunday, All Day
Softball vs. Boston University @ FAU "First Pitch" Classic Sunday, 11:15 am
Men's Tennis Florida Sunday, Noon
Women's Basketball @ USF Sunday, 2 pm
Wrestling @ Michigan Sunday, 6 pm