May 17, 2019

Buckeyes Win Pitchers’ Duel over UNC in NCAA Opening Round

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KNOXVILLE, Tenn.  – The Ohio State softball team opened the Knoxville Regional with a pitchers’ duel that Morgan Ray came out on the right side of with a 1-0 win over North Carolina at Sherri P. Lee Stadium Friday afternoon.

The victory moves the Buckeyes to 35-16 on the season and secures their place in the winner’s bracket. Ohio State will play No. 12 Tennessee on Saturday at noon.

IN THE CIRCLE

Righty ace Morgan Ray (18-8) was dealing on the rubber to earn her eighth shutout of the year. She went the distance, allowing just two hits while striking out eight batters. She was a crucial part of an Ohio State defense that retired the leadoff hitter for the Tar Heels in every inning.

WHAT WENT DOWN

  • Claire Nicholson quickly took UNC out of its game by throwing a laser down to Emily Clark at second base to catch the runner stealing in the opening frame. The Tar Heels did not attempt to steal for the rest of the game.
  • Ohio State threatened in the top of the fourth after Lilli Piper had a leadoff single and Emily walked to get on but a grounder to short ended the chance.
  • The Tar Heels had the first runner of the game to make it to third base but the Buckeyes retired the side on Nicholson’s catch in foul territory.
  • OSU broke the stalemate in the sixth for a 1-0 lead. Bri Betschel connected on the only extra-base hit of the game with a double to the right field wall. Up next, Piper reached on a throwing error and made it to second base while Betschel went to third. Ashley Prange laid down a sacrifice bunt, giving Betschel time to come in on the squeeze play.
  • The Buckeyes wrapped up the seventh inning by taking UNC down in the order, featuring two strikeouts from Ray.

BUCKEYE BITS

  • Ohio State had its 14th shutout of the season.
  • The leadoff batter for the Buckeyes got on in four of the seven innings.
  • Coming into the game, UNC ranked 10th nationally in steals per game (2.21). Ohio State did not allow a stolen base and caught the lone attempt.
  • Emily Clark has reached safely in 22 straight contests.
  • Lilli Piper is on an 11-game hitting streak.
  • Ohio State improved to 16-20 in the NCAA Tournament.

IN THEIR OWN WORDS

Head coach Kelly Kovach Schoenly’s opening statement:

“It was a great game, I think North Carolina and ourselves are very evenly matched and the game was going to come down to one or two plays. I thought their pitcher threw a tremendous game and our pitcher also threw a tremendous game. We made one more clutch play than they did and that’s just the difference in this tournament. It’s crazy how close that game was on both sides of the ball. There wasn’t a whole lot of action, but we were able to do a few things better.”

Morgan Ray on her overall pitching performance:

“Today I just wanted to keep my team in the game. Last week I didn’t play my best, so I wanted to bounce back and stay in there for my team. I was just mixing up the pitches and going at the batters and it worked out.”

Ashley Prange on her game-winning RBI bunt:

“They called timeout just before Emily’s at-bat and they told me ‘hey, expect this.’ I’m confident in my squeezes too because I’ve done it before. I just love those moments.”