March 13, 2022

Ruck, Handley Lead Ohio State to Wins over UMass & South Florida

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COLUMBUS, Ohio Ohio State starting pitchers Emily Ruck and Lexie Handley pitched 12 innings on Sunday and gave up one hit. Just one. Oh, and they struck out 24 batters.

The result was a pair of wins over UMass and No. 22-ranked South Florida by scores of 8-0 and 5-0, respectively. The Buckeyes are now 13-3 on the season and have won five games in a row. USF is now 22-4 while UMass is 5-14.

The Short Story
In the first game of the day vs. UMass, Ruck, a Westerville, Ohio native who played at Westerville Central, picked the program’s 19th no-hitter since 1997 when she struck out 11 batters in an 8-0 five-inning win.

To close the day, the Buckeyes saw Handley shutout South Florida. She matched her career high with 13 strikeouts and allowed just a fourth-inning infield single. Ohio State’s win snapped a 14-game winning streak by South Florida, which was ranked No. 22 in this week’s ESPN.com/USA Softball poll.

Handley’s big game in the circle was backed up by an offense that got a solo home run from Niki Carver and seventh-inning RBI singles from Tegan Cortelletti and Jaycee Ruberti.

Game One: Ohio State 8, UMass 0 (5 inn.)
Sophomore Emily Ruck made her third career start a memorable one, as she tossed a no-hitter with 11 strikeouts as the Buckeyes blanked UMass, 8-0.

Ruck, who also established a new career high in strikeouts, improved to 3-0 on the season. She tossed Ohio State’s first no-hitter since April of 2019 and its 19th since 1997.

Ruck’s gem in the circle was backed up by an offense that produced 10 hits, including extra-base power from Kami Kortokrax (double), Sam Hackenbracht (home run) and Niki Carver (home run). Ohio State scored four runs in the first inning, keyed by a three-run home run by Hackenbracht and a run-scoring double off the bat of Kortokrax.

Ahead 5-0, Carver blasted the 20th home run of her career on the first pitch of the third inning and Jaycee Ruberti also drove in a run with a single. That hit has significance as well, as it was the 100th of her career.

Eight of the Buckeyes’ nine starters recorded hits. Hackenbracht led the way with three RBI while Ruberti, Carver and Kortokrax also drove in runs. Tegan Cortelletti scored twice and also stole a base.

Ruck’s 11 strikeouts nearly doubled her previous career high of six vs. Bethune-Cookman on Feb. 12. She struck out the side in the first and second innings and had at least one K in each of the five innings. She retired the final two batters of the game via swinging strikeouts. The last Ohio State no-hitter was by Morgan Ray on April 26, 2019 vs. Illinois, which was also a five-inning run-rule victory.

Game Two: Ohio State 5, South Florida 0
Handley improved to 6-2 on the season with perhaps her most dominant outing. In addition to the 13 strikeouts, Handley walked just one and only twice in the game did South Florida have a base runner in scoring position.

In the top of the second inning, Carver blasted her second home run of the day to right field, giving Ohio State an early 1-0 lead. That’s the way the game would stay until the fifth inning, when Ohio State got the first three batters on via a hit by pitch, bunt single and error at first base. Two batters later with the bases loaded and one out, pinch hitter Avery Clark delivered a sacrifice fly and an infield error allowed a second run to come home and make the score 3-0.

Two insurance runs were tacked on in the seventh inning via RBI singles from Cortelletti and Ruberti. Handley then put the exclamation point on the win by striking out the final two batters to close the game.

That and That

  • For the weekend, Ohio State outscored its four opponents 33-3 and hasn’t allowed a run in 21 innings.
  • Handley had a 1.50 ERA this weekend with 16 strikeouts in 14.0 innings.
  • Offensively, Jaycee Ruberti reached base safely in 10 of her 12 at-bats and hit .667 with four RBI and seven runs scored.
  • McKenzie Bump started each of the last three games this weekend and hit .556 with two doubles and scored six runs.
  • The Buckeyes are off to their best 16-game start since they were 14-2 in 2018.

What’s Next
Ohio State will have tomorrow (Monday) off before heading north to Orlando, Fla. for a game against Central Florida on Tuesday at 6 p.m. It will air live on ESPN+.