The 2018 Big Ten Softball Tournament opens in just a few hours on Goodman Diamond in Madison, Wisc. After games featuring No. 7 Wisconsin and No. 10 Purdue, No. 6 Illinois and No. 11 Maryland, and No. 8 Michigan State and No. 9 Nebraska, the fifth-seeded Ohio State Buckeyes (34-13, 14-8) will start their postseason in the nightcap against the No. 12 Iowa Hawkeyes (20-31, 6-16) at approximately 8 p.m. ET (7 p.m. CT).
The single-elimination tournament’s top four seeds all received a bye into the second round, which will kick off on Friday.
After winning the regular season conference crown for the 20th time— and 10th in 11 years— the Michigan Wolverines own the No. 1-seed and are anchored by freshman pitcher Meghan Beaubien, who on Wednesday was named the conference’s Pitcher and Freshman of the Year. Beaubien is also one of the 10 finalists for this season’s USA Softball National Player of the Year. The pitcher leads the country with 32 wins and has posted 12 shutouts en route to a 0.90 ERA and 245 strikeouts as a freshman.
For the second year in a row, Minnesota catcher Kendyl Lindaman was named the B1G Player of the Year. Lindaman hit 19 home runs this season, while driving in 46 and slugging an impressive .850. The Buckeyes saw two players named to the All-Conference first-team: senior pitcher/utility player Shelby McCombs and junior shortstop Lilli Piper.
Despite being the No. 5 seed in the tournament, the Buckeyes are actually the highest-rated B1G team according to RPI at 27th, followed by Minnesota (28), Michigan (30), Northwestern (38), Nebraska (40), Wisconsin (46) and Illinois (58).
However, TTUN is the highest-ranked team in the ESPN.com/USA Softball poll at 12th, with Minnesota and Ohio State coming in at 23rd and 25th respectively. For OSU to earn the conference’s automatic berth into the NCAA Tournament, they would likely have to get through Iowa, No. 4 Northwestern, Michigan, and either No. 2 Minnesota or No. 3 Indiana.
The Buckeyes did not play Iowa or Minnesota in the regular season, but were run-ruled by Northwestern twice (10-2 and 14-6) last month. As for Michigan, despite a historic win to end the season, the Wolverines won 2-of-3 over Ohio State on the season. Similarly, Indiana took all three games from the Bucks in late March.
As it sits now, based on their record, ranking, and RPI, OSU looks to be in good position to receive an at-large bid into the NCAA Tournament, should they not win the B1G tourney. However, picking up a win or two over higher-seeded competition would certainly help their argument.
Throughout the weekend, Land-Grant Holy Land will be providing recaps, updates, and more from the Big Ten Softball tournament. Follow along here, and catch all of the action on the Big Ten Network and BTN2Go.
Big Ten Softball Tournament Schedule
|May 10, 2018 (Thurs.)||Game #1 - First Round #7 Wisconsin vs. #10 Purdue||11:00 AM|
|Game #2 - First Round #6 Illinois vs. #11 Maryland||1:30 PM|
|Game #3 - First Round #8 Michigan State vs. #9 Nebraska||4:30 PM|
|Game #4 - First Round #5 Ohio State vs. #12 Iowa||7:00 PM|
|May 11, 2018 (Fri.)||Game #5 - Quarterfinal #2 Minnesota vs. Game #1 winner||11:00 AM|
|Game #6 - Quarterfinal #3 Indiana vs. Game #2 winner||1:30 PM|
|Game #7 - Quarterfinal #1 Michigan vs. Game #3 winner||4:30 PM|
|Game #8 - Quarterfinal #4 Northwestern vs. Game #4 winner||7:00 PM|
|May 12, 2018 (Sat.)||Game #9 - Semifinal Game #5 winner vs. Game #6 winner||1:00 PM|
|Game #10 - Semifinal Game #7 winner vs. Game #8 winner||3:30 PM|
|Game #11 - Championship Game #9 winner vs. Game #10 winner||6:00 PM|