May 1, 2017

PREVIEW: Ohio State Closes Home Schedule vs. Kent State

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May 1, 2017

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COLUMBUS, Ohio – Buckeyes fans will have one final opportunity to see the Scarlet and Gray in action at home when Ohio State welcomes in Kent State for a single game on Wednesday beginning at 6 p.m. The contest will be streamed live on BTN Plus.

THE BASICS
Kent State at Ohio State | Wednesday, May 3 | 6 p.m. | Buckeye Field
 Watch Live (BTN Plus) | Live Stats | Twitter Updates

BUCKEYES IN A NUTSHELL
• By taking two of three games from Iowa last weekend, Ohio State stands at 30-14 overall and have reached the 30-win mark for the sixth consecutive season.
• Sophomore Lilli Piper leads an offense when seven players batting .280 or better. She’s sixth in the Big Ten in hitting (.401) with a team-high 14 home runs, 46 RBI, 39 runs scored and 11 stolen bases.
• Hitting behind Piper in the lineup is classmate Emily Clark, who checks in with a .346 average, 40 RBI, 24 runs scored and eight home runs. Last weekend against the Hawkeyes, she homered twice and drove in five runs.
• Senior Alex Bayne is tied with Piper for the team lead in home runs (14) while also batting .324 and has scored a team-high 40 runs. She currently ranks fourth on Ohio State’s all-time home run list with 37.
• A pair of Ohio natives – junior Becca Gavin and senior Anna Kirk – are fourth and fifth, respectively, on the team in batting. Gavin has started 40 games behind the plate and is throwing out 50 percent of base runners, tops amongst Big Ten catchers. Kirk, meanwhile, has 23 RBI, a .452 on-base percentage and .972 fielding percentage at third base.
Maddie Marotti has started 18 games and is batting .286 while junior Taylor White drove in five runs last weekend to give her 33 RBI on the season, third most on the team.
• In the circle, all five pitchers have an ERA under 3.00 with Shelby Hursh leading the way in innings (112.2) and wins (13). Morgan Ray pitched her first complete game shutout and improved her ERA to 2.03 in 48.1 innings.

SCOUTING KENT STATE
2017 Record: 24-24, 12-9 MAC
2016 Record: 37-22, 16-7 MAC
Top Hitter: Maddy Grimm – .320, 16 home runs, 47 RBI, 43 runs scored; Holly Speers – .341, 11 home runs, 28 RBI, 27 runs scored
Top Pitcher: Ronnie Ladines – 13-13, 186.0 IP, 2.15 ERA, 158 Ks
Series History: Ohio State and Kent State have met 32 times previously with the Buckeyes holding a 18-14 edge in the series. Last year in Columbus, the two teams split a doubleheader. Kent State won the first game 6-3 before the Buckeyes took the nightcap, 4-3.

NOTING THE IOWA SERIES
• Saturday’s 6-0 shutout of the Hawkeyes gave Ohio State its 30th win of the year. It’s the sixth consecutive season that the Buckeyes have won at least 30 games. Additionally, Kelly Kovach Schoenly reached the 30-win mark for the eighth consecutive season in her 11-year head coaching career.
• After holding Iowa to just one run over the first two games, Ohio State has now limited its opponents to two or less runs in 24 games this season.
• Ray set career highs for innings pitched (7.0) and strikeouts (six) on Saturday. As a staff, it was the Buckeyes’ 11th shutout of the season.
• With five more RBI, Taylor White increased her Big Ten-only total to 27 (in 20 games). That number is second most in the league.
• Gavin threw out four runners on the basepaths last weekend, giving her 13 caught stealings on the year and raising her throw out rate to 50 percent (13-for-26).

PACKIN’ THEM IN
On Sunday, 1,720 fans saw the series finale against Iowa, the third crowd this year of 1,700 or more that Buckeye Field has hosted. The top three single-game attendance marks have all occurred this season: 1,836 on April 9 vs. Michigan, 1,764 vs. Michigan on April 8 and 1,720 vs. Iowa on April 30.

With an average attendance of 1,043 through 13 games, the Buckeyes are on pace to nearly double last year’s record of 598 fans/game.

Over the last three seasons, Buckeye Field has hosted 13 crowds of 1,000 or more and seven of those have come this season:
• 3/21/15 vs. Michigan: 1,389
• 4/18/15 vs. Rutgers: 1,124
• 5/8/15 vs. Nebraska: 1,345
• 3/26/16 vs. Maryland: 1,172
• 4/24/16 vs. Purdue: 1,627
• 5/8/16 vs. Michigan State: 1,392
• 4/2/17 vs. Rutgers: 1,163
• 4/8/17 vs. Michigan: 1,764
• 4/8/17 vs. Michigan: 1,379
• 4/9/17 vs. Michigan: 1,836
• 4/14/17 vs. Indiana: 1,073
• 4/15/17 vs. Indiana: 1,067
• 4/30/17 vs. Iowa: 1,720

DYNAMIC DUO
Piper and Bayne are the top home-run hitting duo in the Big Ten, combining to hit 28 out of the park, which is more than seven other conference teams have hit in total. The Buckeyes are 8-3 when Bayne homers and 11-2 when Piper hits at least one. Three times, they have hit one in the same game.

EXTRA BASES
The 51 stolen bases Ohio State has this year is tied for fourth most in the conference. Additionally, the Buckeyes have been caught stealing just three times, giving them the highest stolen base success rate (94.4 percent).

A MARKED IMPROVEMENT
• Gavin has improved her batting average by 105 points while also setting career highs this year for home runs, RBI, on-base percentage and slugging percentage.
• Marotti has set personal career highs in every offensive category while getting the opportunity to start 18 of the 23 games that she’s played in.
• Clark’s batting average is up 22 points from last year (.346 from .324) a year removed from earning All-Region honors. She’s also already driven in 13 more runs than last year.
• Ray has shaved nearly two full runs off her ERA from last season, down to 2.03 in 2017 from 4.00 in 2016.
• Kirk’s batting average is up 76 points from last year and on-base percentage has improved by 151 points.
• In 19 more innings then she pitched all of last year, Shelby McCombs has lowered her ERA 3.51 runs/game and has 17 more strikeouts.
• Goodwin has nearly twice as many doubles this year (nine) then she did in her first two seasons combined (five).

HOME SWEET HOME
Since 2013, Ohio State is 53-24 at Buckeye Field with at least 10 wins in four straight seasons. A look at some of the numbers at home in 2017, where Ohio State is 9-4:
• .312 team batting average, which is 14 points higher than all games.
• 22 of the Buckeyes’ 55 home runs have come at home.
• Ohio State is averaging 6.1 runs/per game and on three occasions have scored 10+ runs.
• All five pitchers have seen at least 4.0 innings of action with a team ERA of 2.19.
Morgan Ray is 3-0 at home with a 0.41 ERA, 14 strikeouts and .158 batting average against in 17.0 innings.
Emily Clark has played in all 13 home games this year and is batting .594 with a 1.125 slugging percentage, five home runs, 17 RBI and 14 runs scored.

THE LAST 10 – WHO’S HOT
Morgan Ray | 1.15 ERA, 18.1 IP, 15 Ks
In addition to a pair of wins – which includes the first complete game shutout of her career – Ray also had a save to her credit over the last 10 games. She’s given up just 10 hits in that span – and only two for extra bases – with a .164 batting average against.

Emily Clark | .480, six RBI, three home runs, one double, .519 on-base percentage
Despite missing the first two games of the Michigan State series due to injury, Clark has been the team’s hottest hitter. Her home run in last Saturday’s win broke a scoreless tie in the fourth inning and another one on Sunday tied the game at 1-1 in the bottom of the second inning.

Lilli Piper | .382, seven RBI, four home runs, .417 on-base percentage
Piper has driven in a team-high seven runs over the last 10 games, including two in a 6-2 come-from-behind victory at Michigan State. She’s already set program newcomer records for batting average and home runs and is within reach of the mark for runs scored and RBI.

NUGGETS TO KNOW
• Ohio State played its first 25 games away from home, winning 18 of those contests.
• The Buckeyes own 11 wins against RPI Top-100 teams, 10 of which came either on the road or at neutral sites.
• Ohio State is 17-7 against a non-conference schedule that featured 11 games vs. teams from Power 5 conferences.
• The 10 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. 23, third highest in the Big Ten, and includes 11 games against programs that were in last year’s NCAA Tournament.

WHAT’S NEXT
Following Wednesday’s game – the final non-conference test of the 2017 season – the Buckeyes head to Illinois for the regular season finale in Champaign May 5-7. The 2017 Big Ten Tournament occurs next weekend, May 11-13, at Alumni Field in Ann Arbor, Mich.