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May 12, 2017

Final Stats

It’s bounced to third, and @OhioState_SB is off to the #B1G tourney semis! https://t.co/Eq8de4VbbG

— Ohio State on BTN (@OhioStateOnBTN) May 13, 2017

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ANN ARBOR, Mich. – The third-seeded Ohio State softball team is headed to the Big Ten Tournament semifinals on the arm of Shelby Hursh while also being lifted by its defense. On Friday, Hursh struck out a season-high 10 batters while the infield and outfield behind her made some timely web gems, all leading to a 3-2 victory over sixth-seeded Wisconsin at Michigan’s Alumni Field.

THE SHORT STORY
The Buckeyes (34-15) made a three-run second inning stand up as Hursh was in control the whole night, allowing just four hits and walking only two. Behind her, junior Taylor White made to key inning-ending assists from center field, the second of which came in the sixth inning when the Badgers cut the Ohio State lead to 3-2. Ashley Goodwin also scooped a ball out of the dirt at first base for the final out of the night.

HOW IT SETS UP TOMORROW
Ohio State, in the Big Ten Tournament semifinals for the second time in the last four years, will meet seventh-seeded Michigan State in the second of two semifinals tomorrow afternoon at approximately 3:30 p.m. The Spartans scored three run in the top of the seventh to earn a 5-4 upset of second-seeded Michigan in the third quarterfinal on Friday. The championship game will be played on Sunday 35 minutes after the conclusion of the second semifinal.

HOW THE RUNS WERE SCORED
• All three Ohio State runs crossed the plate in the bottom of the third. It started when Goodwin laced a one-out single to left field and the next batter, Becca Gavin, followed with a double to left field, moving Goodwin to third. After a strikeout, a critical error at first base on a ground ball by Bri Betschel allowed both Goodwin and Gavin to score, giving the Buckeyes an early 2-0 lead. Senior Anna Kirk then drove in what would prove to be the winning run as she singled to center, allowing Betschel to cross the plate.
• The score would remain 3-0 until the top of the sixth when Wisconsin would finally break through against Hursh. After a line out, two infield singles and ground out, Stephanie Lombardo singled off the center field wall, but White threw her out as she attempted to stretch the single into a double. The hit, however, scored two runs to make the score 3-2.

MOMENTS THAT MATTERED
• White’s assists from center field was her second putout of the night. She also ended the top of the first when she threw out Brooke Wyderski who was also attempting to stretch her single in to a double. White now has 10 outfield assists on the year, the most of anyone in the Big Ten.
• Another key defensive play came in the top of the second in a scoreless game after the Badgers got a lead-off runner on via a hit by pitch. Lombardo grounded in to a 4-6-3 double play and Hursh then struck out Melanie Cross for the final out of the half inning.
• In the top of the fourth, Wisconsin had runners on first and second with two away after Sara Novak was hit by a pitch. Lombardo lined a ball sharply to Kirk at third base, and after the ball hit off her glove, an opportunistic Lilli Piper was behind her to secure the third out.
• Hursh picked up her ninth and 10th strikeouts on the first two batters in the top of the seventh, and on a 3-2 count Gabby Scherle ground a ball to Kirk at third. Her throw to Goodwin was in the dirt, but she scooped the ball up before Scherle could beat in out for the final out of the night.

IN THE CIRCLE
Hursh’s 10 strikeouts are just three off her career high set on April 6 of last season in a no-hitter against Penn State. She’s just seven strikeouts shy of 500 for her career. A second team All-Big Ten selection earlier this week, she’s now 15-5 on the season with a 2.28 ERA and 113 strikeouts in 125.2 innings.

STREAKS AND SNIPITS
• Three of Ohio State’s five hits came from Goodwin, Gavin and Piper, who each extended their respective hitting streaks to three, four and six games.
• The Buckeyes’ pitching staff has held opponents to two runs or less 27 times this year and the defense has played error-free on 24 occasions.
• Hursh had seven or more strikeouts for the fifth time this season. She previously fanned 10 against Mercer on March 11. The win tonight was also the 43rd of her career, moving her in to fourth place of the all-time list.
• All three runs that Ohio State scored on Friday came with two outs. For the season, over half of the Buckeyes’ runs have come with two outs.

WHAT’S NEXT
Both of tomorrow’s semifinals will be broadcast live on BTN. The action get underway at 1 p.m. with No. 1 Minnesota vs. No. 4 Illinois, followed by Ohio State vs. Michigan State.

Nice game, Shelby Hursh!

Now, it's time for @OhioState_SB pitcher to talk to BTN. https://t.co/5v98jH0vaQ

— Ohio State on BTN (@OhioStateOnBTN) May 13, 2017