COLUMBUS, Ohio – With the NCAA Tournament right around the corner, Ohio State led the Midwest with five players on NFCA All-Region teams, which were announced Thursday. Shortstop Lilli Piper, second baseman Emily Clark and right-handed pitcher Morgan Ray received first team recognition while outfielder Bri Betschel and righty pitcher Lauren Rice garnered third team laurels.
The Buckeyes’ five all-region choices ties for the most in a single season, matching the mark set in 1994, 2002 and 2017.
The awards honor softball student-athletes from the NFCA’s 10 regions with first, second and third team selections. NFCA member coaches from each respective region voted on the teams, and all the honorees now become eligible for the 2019 NFCA Division I All-America squads. Over the past four seasons, Ohio State has had 18 all-region choices, including nine first-teamers.
Piper earned a spot on the first team for the third time in as many years. She heads into the postseason ranked nationally, standing 14th in batting average (.435), 14th in on-base percentage (.540) and 16th in runs per game (1.08). The Norton, Ohio native hit .574 in Big Ten games to be the conference’s batting average champion. Piper also led the Big Ten in slugging percentage (.941), on-base percentage (.681), hits (39), assists (55) and fielding double plays (9) while finishing second in walks (23) and runs scored (33). She was a first team All-Big Ten selection for the third straight year, joining Krinon Clark ’94 as the only Buckeyes to do so.
Clark has earned all-region honors every year and is making her second appearance on the first team. She batted .380 in league contests and stood third in the conference with 29 RBI and eight stolen bases. The first team All-Big Ten selection has 54 RBI and 40 runs scored this season, making her one of three players in Ohio State history with at least 50 RBI and 40 runs in a season. She has 28 extra-base hits, including 12 home runs, and has gotten on base safely in the last 21 outings.
Ray secured a place on the first team with the lowest single-season ERA of her career at 2.12. The second team All-Big Ten honoree paces the Buckeyes with a 18-7 record and 173 strikeouts in 172 innings of work. She has three no-hitters this year, including two solo, to become the first Buckeye since 2007 to have multiple no-hitters in a season. During Ohio State’s eight-game win streak (Apr. 13-28), Ray had a 1.68 ERA in 41.2 innings, 53 strikeouts, four complete games, a .173 against average, seven wins and one save.
Betschel picked up the first all-region honors of her career after being named to the third team. The lefty slapper has increased her batting average this year by over 100 points with a .349 mark to be a second team All-Big Ten performer. She paced the Big Ten with 82 at bats while tying for fifth with 25 runs and seventh in hits (32).
Rice is also received third team recognition for the first postseason laurels of her career. She has spent 104.2 innings in the circle on her way to a 2.68 ERA. Rice has headed to the rubber 35 times this year, coming away with 39 strikeouts and a 16-4 record. She struck out a career-high five batters twice against Seattle (Mar. 8) and Maryland (Mar. 31).