March 27, 2018

Home Slate Opens Wednesday vs. No. 19 Kentucky

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COLUMBUS, Ohio – After playing its first 26 games on the road, No. 24 Ohio State opens a four-game homestand when it welcomes No. 19 Kentucky to Buckeye Field Wednesday and lifts the curtain on the 2018 home slate at 6 p.m. ET.

WEEKLY BASICS

Ohio State vs. Kentucky | Wednesday, Mar. 28 | 6 p.m. ET | Buckeye Field

SCOUTING REPORT

Kentucky is 19-9 overall and 2-6 in SEC play heading into Columbus for this midweek matchup. The Wildcats are coming off a 0-3 weekend at Auburn. The team is hitting .316 with 25 home runs. Bailey Vick is hitting .429 with 36 hits, 15 runs and seven RBI. In the circle, Kentucky has a 2.51 ERA in 178.2 innings and has accumulated 147 strikeouts. Grace Baalman is 9-4 on the season with a 2.00 ERA through 70 innings with 59 strikeouts.

SERIES HISTORY

The Buckeyes are 8-5 in the all-time series with Kentucky. The two teams have not played each other since the 2011 season, where Ohio State dropped a 9-0 five-inning decision to the Wildcats at the FIU Tournament.

BUCKEYE REVIEW

  • Ohio State is coming off a three-game Big Ten-opening setback to Indiana last weekend. The Buckeyes are 19-7 overall and are looking to halt a four-game skid.
  • Emily Clark hit .429 during the weekend series with the Hoosiers. She tallied three hits, two runs, an RBI and double. Clark also had a .571 slugging percentage, .556 on base percentage and .957 fielding percentage.
  • Lilli Piper ranks in the top 10 nationally in multiple categories. She is fourth in home runs (13) while standing fifth in runs per game (1.19), sixth in slugging percentage (.947) and 10th in total bases (89). She is also 13th in RBIs per game (1.31), 22nd with 34 RBI and 80th on a .415 batting average. Each of the marks also leads the team and Big Ten. Piper currently has 11 games with multiple hits and 12 outings with multiple runs batted in.
  • Three different Buckeyes have picked up Big Ten weekly honors this season. RHP Shelby McCombs and Niki Carver earned the first conference accolades of 2018 after being named pitcher and co-freshman of the week on Feb. 12. Lilli Piper has kept the trend going by being tabbed as the Big Ten Player of the Week twice on Feb. 26 and Mar. 19.
  • Ohio State tops the Big Ten with 30 home runs and limits opponents to a .194 batting average, which is the second-best mark. The Buckeyes check in at No. 3 in doubles (42), slugging percentage (.443) and earned run average (2.37).
  • In the circle, the 1-2 punch of Shelby McCombs and Morgan Ray have logged nearly every inning this year. The duo has 159 strikeouts over 169.1 innings of work. Ray ranks fifth in the Big Ten with a 1.69 ERA and 97 strikeouts.

HOME COOKING

Starting Wednesday, Ohio State plays four straight games at Buckeye Field. Over the last five seasons, the Buckeyes are 55-25 at home and won a minimum of 10 games every year.

ROAD TRIPPIN’

Ohio State spent the first seven weeks of the 2018 season on the road and clocked in 26 games. During their time away from Columbus, the Buckeyes went 12-3 in neutral site games and 7-4 in away matchups. The Scarlet & Gray have surpassed the midway mark of the campaign and has 15 contests at Buckeye Field.

EXTRA INNINGS

Through 26 games, Ohio State has been pushed to extra innings six times, including a span of four straight. The Buckeyes put up 24 hits, 17 RBI and seven home runs in those games on their way to a 3-1 mark during the four-game stretch. OSU only went past seven innings in four games a season ago.

WALK IT OFF

The Buckeyes have done some of their best work late in games this season. The squad has tallied six comeback wins, two of which have been walk-off victories. Four games were decided on walk-off hits, including a pair by Lilli Piper on a single and home run. Niki Carver has a walk-off single and McCombs delivered a walk-off homer earlier in the campaign.

SWING FOR THE FENCE

Through 26 games, Ohio State has connected on 30 home runs. The Buckeyes have recorded at least one home run in 19 of 26 games and has two games with three homers. Lilli Piper is responsible for 13 of Ohio State’s home runs.

MILESTONE WATCH

Lilli Piper recorded her 100th hit in Scarlet & Gray against Cal State Fullerton on Mar. 11. In the same game, Taylor White tallied the 100th run of her career. Emily Clark has already surpassed one milestone as she recorded the 100th hit of her career against Northern Illinois on Feb. 10. She has driven in 93 runs and is on track to cross the 100-RBI plateau. Ashley Goodwin is just six hits away from reaching 100 for her career while Taylor White has 97 RBI. RHP Morgan Ray needs seven strikeouts to secure 200 Ks.

RANKING NEWS

Ohio State checks in at No. 24 in the USA Today/NFCA Coaches Poll and ESPN.com/USA Softball Poll. The Buckeyes have been receiving votes or ranked in both polls every week thus far.

UP NEXT

Ohio State jumps back into Big Ten play when it hosts a three-game series with Wisconsin, beginning at 6 p.m. ET Friday.