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Feb. 24, 2016

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COLUMBUS, Ohio – Ohio State’s stretch of early-season non-conference tournaments continues with five games this weekend in South Carolina at the Spartan Classic. The Buckeyes tangle twice with Virginia Tech and once each with Furman, Morehead State and USC Upstate.

THE BASICS

FRIDAY, FEB. 26 TIME SITE FOLLOW ALONG
Ohio State vs. Virginia Tech 2 p.m. Greenville, S.C. Live Stats
Ohio State at Furman 6 p.m. Greenville, S.C. Live Stats
SATURDAY, FEB. 27
Ohio State vs. Morehead State 11 a.m. Spartanburg, S.C. Live Stats
Ohio State vs. Virginia Tech 5 p.m. Spartanburg, S.C. Live Stats
SUNDAY, FEB. 28
Ohio State vs. USC Upstate 1 p.m. Spartanberg, S.C. Live Stats

BUCKEYES IN A NUTSHELL
After splitting four games last weekend at the Big Ten/ACC Challenge in Atlanta, Ohio State stands at 5-3 overall. For the third straight week, it is receiving votes in the ASA/USA Softball Top 25 poll.
 The pitching staff of Shelby Hursh, Shelby McCombs, Morgan Ray and Lena Springer have combined to limit teams to just 43 hits over 53 innings with a better than 2:1 strikeout/walk ratio (47 strikeouts, 19 walks). Hursh is leading the squad in innings pitched (24.0) with a 0.88 ERA and 28 strikeouts.
 Ray is second with 11.2 innings and has a 1.80 ERA. Last weekend, she saw action in three of four games, giving up just two earned runs over 8.2 innings and striking out nine.
 McCombs not only was the winning pitcher against Georgia Tech on Feb. 20, her bat also was the reason the Buckeyes came out victorious. After coming on in relief and recording the final two outs in the top of the eighth inning, McCombs hit a walk-off home run in the bottom of the eighth to left center field.
 Ohio State’s pitching staff currently ranks 31st nationally in ERA (1.85).
 At the plate, sophomore Ashley Goodwin leads the team in batting at .444 with two doubles, one home run and four RBI.
 Jess Machovina, who missed all of last season with an injury, has made the most of her seven at-bats, collecting three hits and two RBI.

SCOUTING THE COMPETITION
Virginia Tech
2016 Record: 1-8
2015 Record: 34-23, 9-14 ACC
Top Hitter: Chelsea Whitcomb – .348, four RBI, two doubles, .565 slugging percentage
Top Pitcher: Maggie Tyler – 0-4, 24.0 IP, 5.25 ERA, 18 Ks
Notes: Six of the Hokies first eight games have come against ranked teams, including three contests against No. 2 Michigan … made the NCAA Tournament last year as an at-large team and lost to Utah and Longwood.

Furman
2016 Record: 5-6
2015 Record: 31-25, 10-8 SoCon
Top Hitter: AnnaRose Borrelli – .484, 10 RBI, three home runs, two doubles, .839 slugging percentage; Candace Johnson – .455, one triple, two home runs
Top Pitcher: Lindsey Bert – 3-4, 43.1 IP, 2.42 ERA, 26 Ks, five complete games
Notes: Won four games last weekend at the Upstate Invitational … AnnaRose Borrelli earned Southern Conference Player of the Week honors this past Monday.

Morehead State
2016 Record: 5-2
2015 Record: 22-24, 11-11 OVC
Top Hitter: Robyn Leighton – .556, four home runs, nine RBI, 1.389 slugging percentage
Top Pitcher: Allison Rager – 3-0, 13.2 IP, .229 batting average against
Notes: Owns one already this year over a Big Ten opponent – Rutgers … have four players on their roster from Ohio, including two from the Columbus area.

USC Upstate
2016 Record: 7-1
2015 Record: 44-10, 18-2 A-Sun
Top Hitter: Brittany Case – .591, nine RBI, 1.000 slugging percentage, four doubles, 11 runs scored; Kendsey Chappelear – .483, three RBI, nine runs scored, five stolen bases
Top Pitcher: Holly McKinnon – 2-1, 21.0 IP, 1.29 ERA, 21 Ks, three complete games; Amanda Storch – 3-0, 14.0 IP, 0.00 ERA, 19 Ks.
Notes: NCAA Tournament participant last year … Atlantic Sun regular season and tournament champions.

ARMS RACE
The Buckeyes’ pitching staff currently owns the best ERA in the Big Ten (1.85) and 31st best in the nation. In 53 total innings, four different pitchers have seen action, with Hursh leading the way at 24.0 and Ray second at 11.2.

After starting the season with a 2.52 ERA at the LSU Tiger Classic, the group was even more effective last weekend, finishing with a 1.25 ERA over 28 innings with 30 strikeouts and just six walks. Hursh was the first member of the group to toss a complete game, going seven innings on Feb. 19 vs. Georgia Tech and allowing just one hit, a sixth-inning single that ended with the batter being thrown out at second base. She added 10 strikeouts, the second highest single-game total in her career.

INHERITED RUNNERS
Ohio State pitchers have inherited 21 runners in relief appearances this year, and only two have scored, giving them a 90.4% success rate in keeping them stranded on the base paths. Ray leads the squad with a 9:1 inherited/scored ratio while McCombs is at 5:0, Hursh is 5:1 and Springer is 2:0.

WHIP IT GOOD
The 16 teams that advanced to last year’s NCAA Super Regionals all possessed a pitcher with a WHIP (walks+hits/innings pitched) no higher than 1.84 and as low as 0.72 amongst the top two of their staff. Eight games into the 2016 campaign, Hursh and Ray are in that company, checking in with a 1.13 combined WHIP (Hursh: 0.96, Ray: 1.29).

WEEKEND STANDOUTS – AT BIG TEN/ACC CHALLENGE
Shelby Hursh | 1-1, 13.2 IP, 1.02 ERA
Struck out 18 and walked just four over 13.2 innings … complete game shutout against Georgia Tech on Friday night, allowing just one hit while striking out 10 … started Sunday against Syracuse and went 4.1 innings with two hits and five strikeouts.

Shelby McCombs | 1-1, 4.0 IP, 1.75 ERA, two Ks, .333, one HR, three RBI
Got the start Saturday vs. Syracuse and pitched 3.1 innings, allowing just three hits and one run … hit the game-winning home run vs. Georgia Tech later in the day after recording the final two outs in the top of the eighth inning … hit a two-run in the bottom of the seventh vs. Syracuse on Feb. 21.

Alex Bayne | two HRs, three RBI
Hit a solo home run in the top of the first inning on Friday vs. Georgia Tech and followed with a two-run game-tying blast vs. the Yellow Jackets on Saturday … scored a team-high three runs … on defense, started all four games in the outfield and also saw time as the DP.

BIG TEN TAKES INAUGURAL B1G/ACC CHALLENGE
The winner of the first-ever Big Ten/ACC Challenge was the Big Ten – by a wide margin. B1G schools (Ohio State, Wisconsin, Michigan, Minnesota, Nebraska, Purdue, Northwestern and Illinois) won 20 of 32 match-ups at eight different ACC on-campus sites.

FOR COMPARISONS SAKE
Through the first eight games in 2016, several individuals are enjoying significant statistical improvements:
 Ashley Goodwin was batting .182 with just two hits in 11 at-bats last year at this time. This year, she has improved her average by 262 points while quadrupling the numbers of hits that she’s registered.
 Alex Bayne only had four at-bats at this time last year and had not recorded a hit. This year, she’s hitting .273 and leads the team with three home runs and five RBI.
 Ohio State’s team ERA after eight games last year was 3.50. This year it is nearly two runs per game lower at 1.85.
 Hursh has shaved nearly three runs off her ERA, from 3.27 at this time last year to 0.88 this year. Springer has seen a similar improvement, from 3.82 last year to 1.50 this season.
 As a staff, Ohio State’s pitchers have given up 18 less walks then at this time last year (37 is 2015, 19 in 2016).

UNIFORM WATCH
Ohio State’s 2016 record when it wears…
White jersey/white pants: 1-1
Gray jersey/gray pants: 1-2
Red jersey/red pants: 3-0

NOTING THE 2016 SCHEDULE
 Ohio State went 11-6 last year against the six Big Ten opponents on its schedule that it faces again in 2016.
 The Buckeyes have 16 games this year against RPI Top-70 opponents.
 Between Feb. 27 and March 19, seven of Ohio State’s 10 games are against teams that were in last year’s NCAA Tournament.
 The Buckeyes have never before played USC Upstate or James Madison.
 Over the last three years, Ohio State is 35-17 (.673) at home, the fourth most wins of any program in the Big Ten. In each of Kelly Kovach Schoenly’s first three seasons, her team has won at least 11 games at home.

BUCKS GO PRO
Becca Gavin, a sophomore catcher, and Hursh will both participate this summer in the “Bucks Go Pro” program, which matches student-athletes with internships in the Department of Athletics and across other areas of the university. Gavin will be working in the Buckeye Careers office while Hursh will be interning with SASSO (Student Athlete Support Services Office).

Said Gavin: “I want to capture the experiential gain of resources and networking available in order to fully take advantage of the opportunities provided here at Ohio State.”

Following graduation, Gavin would like to attend dental school and use it as a platform to give back to those in need and can’t afford it.

Said Hursh: “I want to learn a lot about professional development, and also about working with all different types of people in my Bucks Go Pro classmates.”

Hursh aspires to teach English to high school students and eventually become a school counselor and assist students with college decisions while helping them achieve goals they have set for themselves.