COLUMBUS, Ohio – Coming off a pair of Big Ten victories last weekend, No. 23/24 Ohio State is back on the road to face Rutgers in a three-game series at the RU Softball Complex, starting with a doubleheader on Friday beginning at 2 p.m. The Buckeyes and Scarlet Knights will close the series on Sunday at noon. All three games will be streamed on BTN Plus/BTN2Go.
Rutgers is 17-16 overall and 2-2 in Big Ten action. The Scarlet Knights had their midweek outing with Saint Joseph’s cancelled due to weather but secured a conference series over Penn State, 2-1, last weekend. The squad is hitting .256 with 20 home runs and 25 doubles. Rebecca Hall leads the team with a .385 batting average, 45 hits, 32 RBI, 23 runs and six homers. In the circle, Whitney Jones (8-7) has a 3.00 ERA in 86.1 innings and 31 strikeouts. As a team, the Scarlet Knights own a 3.77 ERA over 228.2 innings with 95 strikeouts.
The Buckeyes are 11-1 all-time against Rutgers. Ohio State swept the series last season and run-ruled the Scarlet Knight in all three meetings. The Buckeyes outscored their opponent 32-3 while hitting .480 with two outs and scored 13 runs.
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 11 contests left at Buckeye Field.
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 seven 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 Shelby McCombs delivered a walk-off homer earlier in the campaign.
SWING FOR THE FENCE
Through 29 games, Ohio State has connected on 33 home runs. The Buckeyes have recorded at least one home run in 21 of 29 games and has two games with three homers. Lilli Piper is responsible for 13 of Ohio State’s home runs.
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 96 runs and is on track to cross the 100-RBI plateau. Ashley Goodwin is just five hits away from reaching 100 for her career while Taylor White has 97 RBI. RHP Morgan Ray needs three strikeouts to secure 200 Ks.
Ohio State is up one spot to No. 23 in the USA Today/NFCA Coaches Poll and stays at No. 24 in the ESPN.com/USA Softball Poll. The Buckeyes have been receiving votes or ranked in both polls every week thus far.
Ohio State heads back to Columbus for a doubleheader with Penn State on Wednesday, Apr. 11. Both games will be aired live on the Big Ten Network.