Feb. 21, 2016

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ATLANTA, Ga. – The Ohio State softball team lost a hard-fought 3-2 decision to Syracuse to conclude the Big Ten/ACC Challenge on Sunday at Mewborn Field on the campus of Georgia Tech.

The Buckeyes’ pitching staff once again had a stellar outing in the circle, as Shelby Hursh and Morgan Ray combined to give up just four hits while striking out eight. Over the course of the four games this weekend, the quartet of Hursh, Ray, Lena Springer and Shelby McCombs gave up just five earned runs over 28 innings (1.25 ERA) with 30 strikeouts, a complete game shutout and an opponent batting average of just .155.

Overall, the Big Ten was victorious in the inaugural Big Ten/ACC Challenge by winning 20 of 32 contests.

The first baserunner of the game came via a walk in the top of the second, as Hannah Dossett was then sacrificed to second and advanced to third on a groundout. But Hursh made sure she stayed there, inducing a half-inning ending groundout to third from Andrea Bombace.

Syracuse had base runners in both the second, third and fourth innings but could never advance them past third base. The Buckeyes’ had a threat brewing the bottom of the second, getting the first two runners on via walks, but a double play and fly out left the game scoreless.

The Orange finally broke through on the scoreboard in the top of fifth on a bases loaded hit by pitch and single to right field that made the score 2-0. Relief pitcher Morgan Ray came on in relief of Shelby Hursh, however, to get the final two outs of the half inning – a strikeout and weak grounder back to the pitcher.

Maddy McIntyre’s lead-off triple in the bottom of the fifth gave Ohio State a jolt of offense, but she couldn’t score after two strikeouts and a flyout. The Orange put another run on the scoreboard in the top of the sixth with a solo home run off the bat of Bombace, who sent a pitch just over the left centerfield fence.

Ohio State mustered its final push in the bottom of the seventh, as a walk from Erika Leonard and double to left centerfield by Ashley Goodwin put two runners on with nobody out. A groundout from McIntyre was the first out, but McCombs, who hit a walk-off home run yesterday, plated two runs when she doubled down the left field line. The Buckeyes couldn’t advance the tying run from third, however, as Cammi Prantl gounded out and pinch hitter Jayla Saibene struck out.  

The early-season schedules continues next weekend when Ohio State has five games in Greenville and Spartanburg, S.C., taking to Virginia Tech twice along with Furman, Morehead State and USC Upstate.