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Ohio State softball gears up for Big Ten Tournament

The softball Bucks had a great end to their regular season on Sunday, including setting some new records. Now, they get ready for the postseason.

Katie Good | For The Lantern

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

Ohio State closed out their regular season with a doubleheader sweep against Maryland on Sunday. The women definitely ended their season on a high note, with hits coming from everyone in the lineup and the pitching staff backing them up. Additionally, a couple big records were set, one by ace left-hander Lexie Handley and another by head coach Kelly Kovach Schoenly.

Even though this is her first and only season with the Buckeyes, Handley has certainly made her presence known by leading her team in the circle and carving her name into the history books. She broke Ohio State’s single-season strikeout record that has previously stood for 15 years, since Jamee Juarez set it in 2007. Handley eclipsed the former record of 240 strikeouts by punching out one more than Juarez, finishing with 241— yet she still has the postseason to add to this total.

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

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

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

The Buckeyes secured the No. 6 seed in the Big Ten Tournament, and will first face off against No. 11 Purdue on Wednesday. Northwestern earned the No. 1 overall seed, followed by Nebraska, Illinois, Michigan and Maryland. The Wildcats (39-9, 19-4 Big Ten) were completely dominant this season, however Illinois and Michigan only have one more win than the Buckeyes.

With the Big Ten being extremely competitive this season, it will be interesting to see how this tournament plays out. Northwestern won the regular season title, but the tournament title is totally up for grabs. The Buckeyes are riding momentum coming off two solid wins against the Terps, so we will see if they can keep it going this week.

Ohio State faces off against 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 play Illinois Thursday at the same time and channel.