The following is a recap of the postseason sporting events one can catch in Columbus or on television over the upcoming weeks.
The Buckeyes, ranked 10th in the country, have qualified for the NCAA final four and will take on No. 1 California-Irvine tonight at 11 p.m. Eastern on ESPNU. Should OSU advance, they will take on either No. 4 USC or No. 5 Penn State on Saturday night at 7 on ESPN2.
In its 16th NCAA tournament appearance and second in a row, Ohio State will be major underdogs against the Anteaters, who went 25-5 and are led by first-team All-America setter Ryan Ammerman.
Ohio State, 16-10, has come back from an 0-4 start and won the Midwestern Intercollegiate Volleyball Association with shutout wins last weekend in St. John Arena against Loyola (Ill.) and Ball State.
"I feel like our team has really turned our season around and we are excited to be here competing for a national championship," freshman Mik Berzens said. "I think it shows how much we care for each other and how hard we have worked with each other."
The Buckeyes will be without senior John Albertson, but Robbie Klein, Ted Schoenfeldt, John Klanac and Kevin Heine all average more than three points per game.
Ohio State is hosting the NCAA Central Regional at OSU's Scarlet Course starting today. The three-round tournament has free admission each day as 21 teams fight for the chance to finish in the top eight and advance to the NCAA finals. The Buckeyes began teeing off this morning between 8:15 and 8:50 a.m. and will start tomorrow's action between 12:30 p.m. and 1:10 a.m.
The 27th-ranked Buckeyes are seeded eighth in the regional, their 15th straight. Ohio State ended the season hot, winning the Lady Buckeye Spring Invitational on the Scarlet Course before taking third in the Big Ten meet.
First-team All-Big Ten honoree In Hong Lim leads the Buckeyes with a stroke average of 77.13 and top-20 finishes in four of her last five tournaments, including a win at the Lady Buckeye. Big Ten freshman of the year Vicky Villanueva averages 77.54.
The third overall seed in the NCAA tournament, Ohio State starts the 64-team, single-elimination event Friday in Columbus with a match against Xavier at 1 p.m. Friday, and the winner will take on the winner of an earlier Friday match between Notre Dame and Michigan at noon Saturday. The event is slated for the on-campus Stickney Tennis Center.
The Buckeyes shouldn't have much trouble escaping the regional given that they beat Xavier 7-0 on Jan. 21, Notre Dame 7-0 on Feb. 21, Michigan 6-1 on April 5 and the Wolverines again 4-1 on April 25 at the Big Ten tournament. OSU, which is 31-1, won the Big Ten regular season and tournament championships.
OSU has three players ranked in the top 25 in singles in No. 3 Bryan Koniecko, No. 9 Steven Moneke and No. 25 Justin Kronauge. Balazs Novak checks in at No. 74, Shuhei Uzawa at No. 98 and Matt Allare at No. 114, and that's not even including freshman Chase Buchanan, a highly coveted recruit who joined the program midway through the season.
Moneke is the all-time school leader in singles wins.
The No. 11 Buckeyes have not yet been awarded an NCAA regional, but the sparkling brand-new Buckeye Field complex seems likely to be given a bid when the tournament starts May 15.
Ohio State has climbed in the polls all season and currently sits 42-9 and 14-4 in the Big Ten. Junior catcher Sam Marder hit her 17th home run of the year yesterday to tie the all-time OSU record for career homers with 41, tying Kristine Himes (2000-03). The Buckeyes have a program-record 59 homers as a team, including a freshman record of 11 more from shortstop Alicia Herron.
Pitcher Kim Reeder is 22-4 with a 1.28 ERA, while Lindsay Bodeker is 15-3 with a 1.78 mark.
Ohio State finishes the regular season Saturday with a home doubleheader against Penn State at 2 p.m.
The ESPN family of networks has the rights to broadcast NCAA postseason softball, so check your local listings.
Track And Field
The Buckeye men's and women's programs will host the Big Ten outdoor championships from Feb. 15-17 at Jesse Owens Memorial Stadium.
The Buckeye men's team has plenty to watch for, including the 4x400 relay team that won the Big Ten indoor championship before seamlessly transitioning to the outdoor realm. The anchor of that race, Thomas Murdaugh, is one of the top 400-meter racers in the Big Ten, having set the second-fastest time in the league this year at the Jesse Owens Track Classic last weekend. Other athletes to watch include standout distance runner Jeff See and thrower Patrick Whalen.
On the women's side, OSU has seen its distance arm develop as the season has gone on, led by sophomore Jordan Jennewine's performances in the middle distances. Sprinting is also a strong point for the Buckeyes, as they boast a number of talented runners including Ayrizanna Favours, Letecia Wright and Latoya Sanderson. Thrower Maggie Mullen has had an impressive spring as well.
Other notable names, such as Michigan sprinting star Adam Harris, will be in attendance as well.
The 34-13 Buckeyes, ranked 27th in the nation, continue to fight for a Big Ten regular-season title. No matter what happens in that regard, though, Ohio State will be in its hometown for the conference tournament, which the Greater Columbus Sports Commission will host downtown at brand-new Huntington Park, the home of the Triple-A Columbus Clippers, from May 20-24.
The new park, which opened in mid-April, has been lauded as one of the best in all of baseball. Located in the vibrant Arena District, the park seats around 10,000 with numerous food, drink and social options scattered about the stadium.
Ohio State, one game behind leader Illinois going into a three-game series in Champaign this weekend, is led by a batting order averaging 7.96 runs per game. Michael Stephens is hitting .364 with 10 homers and 47 RBI, while Dan Burkhart is hitting .380 with 51 RBI and Ryan Dew is atop the chart with a .396 average. On the hill, the ace is Alex Wimmers, who is 8-1 with a 2.79 ERA after throwing a no-hitter last Saturday against Michigan. Closer Jake Hale has a 0.95 ERA and 11 saves.
The tournament will be shown live on the Big Ten Network.
Ohio State is also in the running to host an NCAA regional in Bill Davis Stadium.