COLUMBUS, Ohio – For the third time in the last four years, the Buckeyes head to Knoxville, Tenn. to open the NCAA Tournament. Ohio State’s journey begins at 11 a.m. Friday on ESPN2 against North Carolina at Sherri Parker Lee Stadium after earning an at-large bid to its 11th NCAA Tournament.
|Knoxville Regional Schedule|| ||
|Game 1||Ohio State vs. North Carolina ||Ohio State wins, 1-0
|Game 2||#12 Tennessee vs. Longwood||Tennessee wins, 8-0 (5)
|Game 3||Ohio State vs. #12 Tennessee||Tennessee wins, 12-4
|Game 4||North Carolina vs. Longwood||North Carolina wins, 3-1
|Game 5||Ohio State vs. North Carolina||Saturday, May 18 | 8 p.m.
|Game 6||G3 Winner vs. G5 Winner||Sunday, May 19 | 12 p.m.
|Game 7||G6 Winner vs. G6 Loser (if necessary)||Sunday, May 19 | 2:30 p.m.
UNC brings a 35-18 record into the NCAA Tournament and is coming off an 8-0 six-inning loss to Florida State in the championship game of the ACC Tournament. As a team, UNC is hiiting.294 with 44 doubles, 28 home runs and 117 stolen bases. The four-member pitching staff has a 3.05 ERA and 287 strikeouts in 347 innings. Individually, Kiani Ramsey leads the Tar Heels batting .379 with 64 hits, 35 runs scored, 35 RBI and 11 doubles. In the circle, Brittany Pickett (21-12) has put in 205.2 innings of work for a 2.11 ERA and 200 strikeouts.
The Buckeyes and Tar Heels have only met nine times in program history. UNC leads the all-time series, 6-3. The teams last faced off during the 2017 season as part of the ACC/B1G Challenge in Chapel Hill. Ohio State dropped a close 8-7 decision in the first game before bouncing back with a 10-2 win to split the series.
OHIO STATE IN THE NCAA TOURNAMENT
- For the first time in program history, Ohio State is making its fourth straight appearance in the NCAA Tournament and 11th
- It is the third time in the last four years that the Buckeyes have been sent to the Knoxville Regional.
- A year ago, Ohio State played in the Gainesville Regional, where it beat USF twice to advance to the final but fell to Florida, 4-0.
- In 2017, the Buckeyes were at the Knoxville Regional, where they dropped a 7-3 decision to USC Upstate before being eliminated by Longwood, 3-1.
- Ohio State made its first trip to the NCAA Tournament under head coach Kelly Kovach Schoenly in 2016. In Knoxville, the Buckeyes fell in their opener to Arizona, 2-0, before knocking off Marist, 6-1. The team was eliminated by Tennessee, 10-1.
- In 2010, the Buckeyes hosted a regional in Columbus, going 2-2 with wins over Bucknell (6-0) and Kentucky (5-3) and losses to Kentucky (6-5) and California (7-0).
- In 2009, Ohio State made its deepest NCAA Tournament run, advancing to the Super Regionals for the first time in program history. OSU won the Columbus Regional with a 7-2 triumph over Kentucky and ultimately finished 47-11 on the year.
- In 2002, the Buckeyes won a school-record 55 games and advanced to the Ann Arbor Regional where they went 2-2 with wins over Central Michigan and Washington.
- Between 2002 and 2010, Ohio State made the NCAA Tournament in six of nine seasons.
- Ohio State’s first trip to the NCAA Tournament was in 1990 when it hosted the Midwest Regional.
- The Buckeyes’ all-time NCAA Tournament record is 15-20.
- After a 10-1 setback in the quarterfinals of the Big Ten Tournament, Ohio State is 34-16 on the year.
- The Buckeyes finished with a 17-6 mark in Big Ten games, the most conference wins under head coach Kelly Kovach Schoenly and since the 1994 season.
- Ohio State had six players receive All-Big Ten honors, the most honorees during Schoenly’s seven-year tenure.
- Four starters are hitting .300 or better this season, led by three-time unanimous first team All-Big Ten selection Lilli Piper. She hit .574 in conference play to be named this year’s batting average champion. She 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).
- Second baseman Emily Clark made her second appearance on the first team and picked up her third all-conference honor. She batted .380 in Big Ten games and stood third in the league with 29 RBI and eight stolen bases.
- Slapper Bri Betschel has increased her batting average this year by over 100 points with a .349 mark to be named a second team All-Big Ten performer. She paced the conference with 82 at bats while tying for fifth with 25 runs and seventh in hits (32).
- Righty ace Morgan Ray currently has the lowest single-season ERA of her career at 2.12. The second team All-Big Ten selection has a 18-7 record and 173 strikeouts in 172 innings.
- Ashley Prange earned spots on the second team and All-Freshman Team after leading Ohio State’s rookie class with 46 hits, 33 RBI, 22 runs and a .303 batting average.
- Claire Nicholson received All-Defensive Team recognition after catching a league-best 19 runners stealing from behind the plate. Heading into the weekend, she has 249 putouts and a .996 fielding percentage.
- Ohio State’s offense features two players with double-digit home runs, eight with 13 or more RBI and six players with a .365 or better on-base percentage.
- In overall games, Emily Clark’s 54 RBI and 40 runs scored makes her one of three players in Ohio State history with at least 50 RBI and 40 runs in a season, joining Lilli Piper and Maddy McIntyre ’16.
- In the national rankings, Lilli Piper stands 14th in batting average (.435), 14th in on-base percentage (.540) and 16th in runs per game (1.08). Emily Clark’s 1.08 RBI per game checks in at No. 20 while Morgan Ray’s seven shutouts is 28th.
- The Buckeyes are receiving votes in the USA Today/NFCA and ESPN.com/USA Collegiate Softball Top 25 polls.
- Ohio State remains at No. 37 in this week’s NCAA RPI, released on Monday. Overall, the Big Ten came in with the fourth-best conference RPI.
- Head coach Kelly Kovach Schoenly reached the 30-win mark for the 11th straight season in her 13-year head-coaching career.
- During Ohio State’s eight-game win streak (Apr. 13-28), Lilli Piper was batting .556 and had a 1.278 slugging percentage with 16 runs, 10 hits, seven RBI, four home runs and 14 walks. Emily Clark had tallied 16 RBI, 11 hits, nine runs, nine walks, three home runs and three stolen bases. Morgan Ray had a 1.68 ERA in 41.2 innings, 53 strikeouts, four complete games, a .173 against average, seven wins and one save.
BIG TEN RECORDS
Lilli Piper etched her name in the Big Ten single-season record book after a stellar performance in conference play this year. Her .574 batting average ranks second while she is tied for third in runs scored with 33 and fifth behind 39 hits. Piper is one of three Buckeyes in Ohio State history to be named to the All-Big Ten first team three times, joining Krinon Clark ’94 and Sam Marder ’10.
2019 SENIOR CLASS
Ohio State’s seniors – Bri Betschel, Megan Choinacky, Emily Clark, Kat Duvall, Lilli Piper and Morgan Ray – are responsible for 139 Buckeye victories over the past four seasons, including 59 Big Ten wins. They are the ninth all-time winningest senior class and the only group to make it to four straight NCAA Tournaments in program history.
Seniors Lilli Piper and Emily Clark were selected in the third and fourth rounds, respectively, of the National Pro Fastpitch College Draft on Apr. 15. The Cleveland Comets drafted Piper and Clark with the No. 15 and No. 16 overall picks. Two selections in the draft are the most in one year in Ohio State’s program history. The duo joins Sam Marder and Alicia Herron, who were drafted to the then Akron Racers in 2010 and 2012, respectively.
SWING FOR THE FENCE
The Buckeyes have connected on 53 home runs so far this season. Ohio State has at least one homer in 30 games, including five grand slams. The underclassmen are responsible for 32 home runs.
EYEING THE RECORD BOOK
|Ohio State Career Records Standings|| ||
|Lilli Piper||.420 batting avg.||2nd
|47 home runs||3rd
|151 runs ||6th
|40 stolen bases||10th
|Emily Clark||169 RBI||3rd
|40 home runs||5th
|Morgan Ray||44 wins||5th