GAINESVILLE, Fla. — Who said a rookie can’t be clutch. Obviously they haven’t met Taylor Stevens, who roped a game-winning three-RBI double in the bottom of the sixth to lift Ohio State to a 3-1 win over South Florida in the opening round of the NCAA Gainesville Regional.
The victory puts the Buckeyes at 35-14 on the season and secures their place in the winner’s bracket. Ohio State will play No. 2 Florida on Saturday at 2:30 p.m.
HOW IT WENT DOWN
- It was a pitcher’s duel that was scoreless until the bottom of the sixth inning. Righty ace Shelby McCombs (17-6) tossed her 10th complete game of the season, limiting the Bulls to two hits and one run with five strikeouts.
- McCombs worked her way out of a bases loaded jam with a swinging strikeout in the top of the third to put USF back on defense.
- Ohio State broke the stalemate in the bottom of the sixth. The half began with a leadoff single by McCombs. After coming in as a pinch runner, Amy Balich made her way to third on a groundout and sacrifice bunt. Kallie Boren, a pinch hitter, was intentionally walked before Bri Betschelreentered the game to run. With no one covering second base, Betschel decided to steal her first bag of the season. Next up, Becca Gavin beat a full count for a walk to stack the bases.
- With three on and two outs, head coach Kelly Kovach Schoenly called upon Stevens to pinch hit for Taylor White. Swinging on the third pitch, Stevens drilled a base-clearing double to the right field wall to put the Buckeyes ahead, 3-0.
- The Bulls joined the scoring in the top of the seventh on a RBI single by Lindsey Devitt.
WORDS FROM COACH
“It was a pitching dogfight out there,” exclaimed Schoenly. “It’s a classic postseason battle with it coming down to that one big hit. So much credit to the hitters that battled to get on base in the sixth and then a clutch performance by Stevens!”
- Taylor Stevens’ double and three RBI were the first of her career.
- Lilli Piper extended her hitting streak to five games.
- Bailee Sturgeon led the team with two hits while Shelby McCombs, Lilli Piper and Taylor Stevenshad one apiece.
- Ohio State’s defense stranded nine of USF’s runners.
- The Buckeyes improved to 14-18 in the NCAA Tournament.