COLUMBUS, Ohio — The Buckeyes are getting back into Big Ten play when they welcome the Spartans to Buckeye Field for a three-game series beginning on Friday at 6 p.m. Ohio State and Michigan State are also slated to meet on Saturday at 2 p.m. followed by the series finale on Sunday at noon. Sunday’s contest will air live on the Big Ten Network.
Michigan State is bringing a 16-21 overall record and 4-8 Big Ten mark to Columbus. The Spartans are riding a two-game win streak after taking the series from Penn State last weekend. MSU is hitting .255 with 44 doubles and 22 home runs. The pitching staff has put in 240.1 innings of work to claim a 3.15 ERA and 230 strikeouts. Individually, Lea Forester tops the team batting .349 with 38 hits, 17 RBI, 12 doubles and seven home runs. In the circle, Kristina Zalewski (9-9) has a 1.92 ERA and 116 strikeouts in 105.2 innings.
The Buckeyes own a 68-45 advantage in the all-time series with the Spartans. The teams split four games last season. MSU won two of three in a series in East Lansing, but Ohio State took game three and bested the Spartans, 4-3, in the Big Ten semifinals.
Ohio State spent the first seven weeks of the 2018 season on the road and clocked in 26 games. During their time away from Columbus as a whole, the Buckeyes went 12-3 in neutral site games and are 10-6 in away matchups.
Ohio State has been pushed to extra innings six times, including a span of four straight. The Buckeyes put up 24 hits, 17 RBI and seven home runs in those games on their way to a 3-1 mark during the four-game stretch. OSU only went past seven innings in four games a season ago.
WALK IT OFF
The Buckeyes have done some of their best work late in games this season. The squad has tallied eight comeback wins, two of which have been walk-off victories. Four games were decided on walk-off hits, including a pair by Lilli Piper on a single and home run. Niki Carver has a walk-off single and Shelby McCombs delivered a walk-off homer earlier in the campaign.
SWING FOR THE FENCE
Through 37 games, Ohio State has connected on 47 home runs. The Buckeyes have recorded at least one home run in 28 of 37 games, has four games with three homers and one contest with five dingers. Lilli Piper is responsible for 16 of Ohio State’s home runs.
Lilli Piper recorded her 100th hit in Scarlet & Gray against Cal State Fullerton on Mar. 11. In the same game, Taylor White tallied the 100th run of her career and picked her 100th RBI against Rutgers on Apr. 8. Emily Clark has surpassed a pair of milestones as she recorded the 100th hit of her career against Northern Illinois on Feb. 10 and notched her 100th RBI on a two-run homer vs. Penn State Apr 11. Morgan Ray secured her 200th strikeout on Apr. 6 at Rutgers. Ashley Goodwin picked up her 100th hit on a two-shot home run vs. Penn State. Piper has driven in 99 runs during her two years in Scarlet & Gray.
Ohio State is 32nd in the latest RPI released on Monday. The Buckeyes are 8-5 vs. teams ranked in the Top 50 and owns 15 wins against Top 100 teams. It has already played 13 games against Top 50 opponents and has four remaining on the schedule (three vs. Michigan and one vs. Pittsburgh).
Ohio State continues its homestand when it hosts a three-game series against Maryland Apr. 27-Apr. 29.