May 20, 2017
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KNOXVILLE, Tenn. – A memorable Ohio State softball season came to an end on Saturday with a 3-1 loss to Longwood at Sherri Parker Lee Stadium on the campus of the University of Tennessee. The Buckeyes finish their 2017 campaign with a 35-18 mark, the most wins in a season in seven years.
THE SHORT STORY
Longwood plated a single run in the fourth inning and then two more in the fifth while limiting the Buckeyes to just four hits. Shelby McCombs got the start in the circle and was effective for much of the contest, going 4.2 innings while giving up four hits and striking out four. On the other side, Sydney Gay pitched a complete game and did allow a run for 6.2 innings while scattering just four hits.
MOMENTS THAT MATTERED
• The Buckeyes threatened to jump out to a lead against Longwood before the Lancers had a chance to come to bat. With two away, Lilli Piper singled up the middle on a 0-2 pitch and the next batter, Emily Clark, worked an eight-pitch walk (Piper stole second during her at-bat). Longwood’s Sydney Gay, however, got a strikeout to end the threat.
• Longwood put their first runner in scoring position in the bottom of the third when Destiny Martinez reached on a two-out fielder’s choice and then stole second. Shelby McCombs was up to the task, however, getting her second inning-ending strikeout of the game by fanning Justina Augustine.
• The Lancers also put a runner on in the bottom of the second via a lead-off walk. But McCombs struck out the next batter, Glenn Walters, on three pitchers and then induced an inning-ending 6-3 double play.
HOW THE RUNS WERE SCORED
• After quickly retiring the first two batters in the bottom of the fourth, McCombs ran in to trouble by giving up a walk to Krista Kelly, who then stole second base. On a 3-1 pitch, Walters drove a ball to center field, just out of the reach of Taylor White, allowing Kelly to come around and score.
• Two run-scoring doubles in the bottom of the fifth increased Longwood’s lead to 3-0. McCombs recorded the first two outs via a ground out and fielder’s choice, but Batten doubled off the left field wall and then Jordan Clark followed with a RBI double to left center, prompting a pitching change to Lena Springer, who got a 6-3 putout to end the inning.
• Ohio State gained some life with two outs in the seventh inning, as pinch hitter Alex Vargas smacked a run-scoring double off the left centerfield fence, scoring Taylor White, who had led off the inning with a single to second base. The Buckeyes weren’t able to push across the tying runs, however, as the rally ended with a fly out to right field.
2017 SEASON HIGHLIGHTS
• Ohio State was ranked or receiving votes in the ESPN.com/USA Collegiate Softball Top 25 poll for every week during the regular season.
• Sophomore Lilli Piper finished the season hitting .420 with 18 home runs and 53 RBI. Her 18 home runs is just one shy of the single season record, held by Sam Marder and Alex Bayne.
• Ohio State had five All-Big Ten and five NFCA All-Region selections. The five all-region choices tied the single-season high set in 1994 and 2002.
• The Buckeyes were 18-7 against a non-conference schedule that featured 11 games against teams from Power 5 conferences.
• Ohio State was ranked or receiving votes in the NFCA/USA Today or ESPN.com/USA Softball Top 25 poll for eight consecutive weeks.
• The Buckeyes compiled 12 true road win and a total of 25 victories at either road or neutral sites.
• Ohio State played its first 25 games away from home, going 18-7 in that stretch.
• Five different pitchers saw at least nine innings of action this year and each of them had an ERA of 3.00 or lower. As the team, the Buckeyes were third in the conference with a 2.49 ERA.
NOTING THE SENIORS
• Alex Bayne finished her career having played in 146 games with 121 starts and blasted 37 home runs, including 33 over the last two seasons. She ranked fifth all time in home runs and also drove in 94 runs while scoring 114 times. She’s on schedule to graduate in August with her master’s degree in sports management.
• Anna Kirk, a Big Ten All-Defensive Team member, played in 209 games and had a .950 career fielding percentage playing a variety of infield position, primarily third base. She graduated earlier this month with a degree in sport industry.
• Shelby Hursh was a workhouse in the circle over the last four years, pitching 488.1 innings with a 3.45 ERA and 495 strikeouts. Last Thursday, she made the second all-region team of her career and finished her senior season with a 15-5 record to go with 115 strikeouts in 133.1 innings. She graduated this past May with a degree in English and will begin work on a master’s degree in counselor education this fall.
• Lena Springer, who came to the Buckeyes in 2015 from Central Florida, had a career high eight wins this year with a 2.74 ERA. Like Hursh and Kirk, she graduated two weeks ago and earned her degree in criminology and criminal justice.
Alex Bayne on her Ohio State experience
“It’s not like anything you can get anywhere else. This university has done so much for the four of us. It’s provided us with endless opportunities. I am truly grateful and blessed to have been a part of this team.”
Shelby Hursh of her Ohio State experience
“When we came here, we all had the goal of making the tournament. Last year, when we made it that is something I will never forget. That was the goal our whole year. I can’t wait to see where the program will go.”
Lena Springer on her Ohio State experience
“Each year that the four of us seniors have been together, this team has grown. Unfortunately, we came up short this weekend, but it definitely doesn’t define whom this team was. This season has been something that the four of us will always remember. When we look back on the last four years, it’s hard to make it one word, but it’s definitely been enjoyable, memorable and amazing.”
Anna Kirk on her Ohio State experience
“I think all the experiences on and off the field that have been provided for us to be better women outside of softball is something that I will for sure take with me.”