May 11, 2017

PREVIEW: No. 24 Buckeyes Begin Postseason at B1G Tournament

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May 11, 2017

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COLUMBUS, Ohio – After a 33-win regular season and third place finish in the Big Ten, the Ohio State softball team begins postseason play on Friday evening in the quarterfinal round of the Big Ten Tournament. The Buckeyes will face either No. 6-seeded Wisconsin or No. 11 Iowa at 7 p.m. at Michigan’s Alumni Field in Ann Arbor.

THE BASICS
No. 3 Ohio State vs. No. 6 Wisconsin or No. 11 Iowa | Friday, May 12 | 7 p.m.
Watch Live (BTN) | Live Stats | Twitter Updates | Tournament Central

Semifinal #2 | Saturday, May 13 | 3:30 p.m.*
Watch Live (BTN)

Championship Game | Saturday, May 13 | 6 p.m.*
Watch Live (BTN)

*If Ohio State advances

BUCKEYES IN A NUTSHELL
• Ohio State closed out the regular season by taking two of three games at Illinois, capped off by a 3-2 win on Sunday that was keyed by a four-hitter from Shelby McCombs and seventh-inning home run by Lilli Piper. The Buckeyes are 33-14 overall.
• The Buckeyes are receiving votes in the USA Today/NFCA Top 25 poll and are tied for No. 24 in the ESPN.com/USA Softball poll.
• Piper’s home run – her team-leading 16th of the year – was part of a 2-for-4 day that raised her average to .420, third highest in the Big Ten. She also leads the team in RBI (49), runs scored (44) and slugging percentage (.784).
• Classmate Emily Clark checks in with a .338 average and 42 RBI, which is tied for second most on the team. Over the last 10 games, she’s hitting .375 with a double and two home runs.
• Junior Taylor White was one of the Big Ten’s top run producers this year, driving in 34 runs in 23 games, second most in the league, and just three off the conference record set in 2015 by Erika Leonard. Overall, she’s hitting .298 with 42 RBI, 10 home runs, 29 runs scored and 13 stolen bases.
• Senior Alex Bayne’s 14 home runs are tied for fourth most in the Big Ten and over the last two seasons, she’s hit 33 out of the park. This year she’s batting .312 with 32 RBI and 44 runs scored.
• Behind the plate, Becca Gavin has thrown out 14 would-be base stealers, good for a 41 percent throw-out rate. She’s also contributed at the plate with a .303 average, 18 RBI and four doubles.
• Over the last 10 games, Ashley Goodwin is hitting .357 with two doubles and a .471 on-base percentage. Those numbers got a boost on Sunday as she went 3-for-3 with a RBI at Illinois.
• Overall, Ohio State’s lineup features seven starters that are batting .280 or better. As a team, the Buckeyes finished fifth in the league with a .299 average and were fourth with a .491 slugging percentage, including 121 extra base hits.
• In the circle, Ohio State boasts the Big Ten’s third-best team ERA at 2.42. All four pitchers that have seen at least 50 innings of action have an ERA lower than 2.80.
• Senior Shelby Hursh leads the way in innings (118.2), wins (14), ERA (2.30) and strikeouts (103).
• Sophomore Morgan Ray is second on the team in appearances (23) and has a team-best 2.08 ERA and .204 batting average against.
• Last Sunday, junior Shelby McCombs picked up her sixth win of the year by limiting Illinois to just four hits and lowering her ERA to 2.46.

FOLLOWING ALONG
All 11 games of the Big Ten Tournament will be broadcast live on BTN. Additionally, live stats can be found on the schedule tab at OhioStateBuckeyes.com and Twitter updates at OhioState_SB.

SCOUTING WISCONSIN
2017 Record: 32-14, 11-11 B1G
2016 Record: 28-24-1, 11-11-1 B1G
Top Hitter: Chloe Miller – .423, 43 RBI, 47 runs scored, nine home runs, .536 on-base percentage; Brooke Wyderski – .348, 41 RBI, 25 runs scored, 13 doubles.
Top Pitcher: Kaitlyn Menz – 22-9, 202.1 IP, 2.49 ERA, 117 Ks, .235 batting average against.
Series History: The Buckeyes and Badgers did not play this year but did meet in 2016 in Madison. After dropping the first game of the series, Ohio State rebounded to take game two, 10-8, before the final contest ended in a 9-9 tie.

SCOUTING IOWA
2017 Record: 19-31, 9-14 B1G
2016 Record: 13-39, 3-20 B1G
Top Hitter: Cheyenne Pratt – .266, nine stolen bases, 15 runs scored; Kaitlyn Mullarkey – .257, 16 RBI, 11 doubles, 10 stolen bases
Top Pitcher: Allison Doocy – 9-15, 145.0 IP, 2.80 ERA, 119 Ks, .265 batting average against
Series History: Ohio State and Iowa met just two weeks ago in Columbus with the Buckeyes taking the first two games of the series, 3-1 and 6-0 respectively, before Iowa won the finale, 4-2.

CAREER VS. THE BADGERS
• In last year’s series at Wisconsin, Clark enjoyed one of the best weekends of her young career: she hit .600 with a double and RBI to go with a .700 slugging percentage and two runs scored.
• White hit a home run and had two RBI in the series, going 7-for-10 (.700) with a 1.200 slugging percentage and two walks in the three games.

CAREER VS. THE HAWKEYES
• Kirk has played in the most career games vs. Iowa (three in 2014, three in 2017) with three runs scored and a .400 on-base percentage. She walked three times in the series two weeks ago in Columbus and also scored a run.
• Hursh has made five career appearances against Iowa with a 2.47 ERA and 15 strikeouts in 17.0 innings. She went 5.2 innings on April 28 with five strikeouts and three hits allowed.

ABOUT THE ILLINOIS SERIES
• Ohio State’s 15 Big Ten wins are 33 regular season victories are the most since 2010.
• Piper finished her first conference season with a .430 average, 10 home runs and 22 RBI. Two of the last three home runs that she hit were either game-tying for game-winning.
• The Buckeyes won five of seven weekend series and finished 7-4 on the road in conference play. Their 12 true road wins are the fourth most in the Big Ten.
• Illinois entered the weekend with the Big Ten’s third best batting average but were held to four or less runs and .266 average in two of the three contests.
• Ohio State scored first for the 30th time this season and is 25-5 in those games.
• Goodwin’s three-hit game was her second of the season. She finished the conference season with a .345 average and .987 fielding percentage.
• Piper hit .583 on the weekend with two home runs and a 1.250 slugging percentage while White drove in a team-best seven runs and hit .417 with a grand slam and .917 slugging percentage.

OSU GRADS
Before heading to Eichelberger Field on Sunday for the series finale vs. Illinois, the Buckeyes held a graduation ceremony at their hotel for the four players who were missing commencement exercises in Columbus: pitcher Shelby Hursh (English), infielder Anna Kirk (sport industry), pitcher Lena Springer (criminal justice) and utility player Maddie Marotti (sport industry).

NUGGETS TO KNOW
• Ohio State played its first 25 games away from home, winning 18 of those contests.
• The Buckeyes own 12 wins against RPI Top-100 teams, 11 of which came either on the road or at neutral sites.
• Ohio State is 18-7 against a non-conference schedule that featured 11 games vs. teams from Power 5 conferences.
• The 12 true road wins that Ohio State has compiled are the fourth most of any team in the Big Ten.
• The Buckeyes’ non-conference RPI is No. 24, third highest in the Big Ten, and includes 11 games against programs that were in last year’s NCAA Tournament.

ALL-BIG TEN BUCKEYES
Lilli Piper | First Team | SS
Piper was one of the most dangerous all-around hitters, especially in Big Ten-only games when she batted .430 with a league-best 10 home runs, 22 RBI, 24 runs scored and .861 slugging percentage in 23 contests. She ranked in the top five in average, slugging percentage, runs scored, hits, RBI and home runs.

Emily Clark | First Team | 2B
Clark Played in 21 of 23 conference games and hit .371 with 21 runs scored, 18 RBI, five home runs and two doubles. She was named the Big Ten and espnW National Player of the Week on April 5 after hitting .875 with 11 RBI, a .917 on-base percentage and 1.750 slugging percentage in four wins over Wright State and Rutgers the week prior.

Taylor White | Second Team | OF
White earns the second all-conference honor of her career after knocking in 32 runs during Big Ten play, second most of any player in the league. Overall, she is batting .298 with 10 home runs, six doubles, three triples, 13 stolen bases and seven assists from center field.

Shelby Hursh | Second Team | P
Hursh earns the first all-conference accolades of her career (she was a NFCA All-Midwest Region selection last season). In overall games, leads the Buckeyes’ pitching staff in wins (14), innings (118.2), shutouts (five), strikeouts (103) and complete games (seven).

Anna Kirk | All-Defensive Team | 3B
Kirk has played third base in all 48 games this season and finished the regular season with a .967 fielding percentage She made just five errors in 147 fielding chances and upped her fielding percentage to .973 in Big Ten games.

STATISTICALLY SPEAKING
• Piper and Bayne are the top home-run hitting duo in the Big Ten, combining to hit 30 out of the yard, which is more than seven teams hit in total.
• On the base paths, Ohio State successfully swiped 53 of 57 bases, good for a 92.9 percent success rate, the best in the league.
• The Buckeyes have outscored opponents 87-37 in the first and second innings combined this season and are also 25-5 when they score first.
• Ohio State’s batting average with two outs in 47 points higher than it is overall (.346 with two outs, .299 overall) and its driven in just over half of its run with two away (129 of 251 RBI).
• The Buckeyes finished 10-4 at home – its sixth straight year of 10 or more wins at home – and set a single-season attendance record with an average of 1,018 fans/game.
• Head coach Kelly Kovach Schoenly has won 30 or more games in each of her five seasons with the Buckeyes and eight in a row overall as a head coach.
• Several players are approaching career milestone: Bayne needs six RBI for 100 in her career, Hursh is 17 strikeouts away from 500, seven more hits will give White 100 in her career and Clark is eight hits shy of 100.
• Piper’s 16 home runs are third most among all Big Ten players and also sets the program’s single season newcomer record, breaking the mark of 14 held by Alicia Herron in 2009.