COLUMBUS, Ohio – It’s a quick turnaround for No. 22 Ohio State as it prepares to head to Northwestern for a weekend series. First pitch Friday is slated for 3:30 p.m. CT/4:30 p.m. ET live on the Big Ten Network. The games on Saturday (1 p.m. CT/2 p.m. ET) and Sunday (12 p.m. CT/1 p.m. ET) will be streamed live on BTN Plus/BTN2Go.
Northwestern is 23-13 overall and has a 6-5 mark in the Big Ten. Last weekend, the Wildcats were able to steal a game from Purdue, 17-8, but dropped the series 2-1. The team has registered a .287 batting average with 30 home runs and 56 doubles. The five-man pitching staff features a 3.99 ERA and 176 strikeouts in 235.1 innings. Individually, Sabrina Rabin leads the Wildcats hitting .389 with 51 hits, 33 runs scored and 14 RBI. In the circle, Kenna Wilkey has tossed 104 innings for a 3.50 ERA and 89 strikeouts.
Ohio State trails 35-61-3 in the all-time series with Northwestern. The two teams last met back in 2016, where the Wildcats claimed a 3-1 win in the Big Ten Tournament. It is the first regular season series between the squads since 2015.
- Ohio State jumped up to 26-8 (7-4 B1G) after sweeping its midweek doubleheader with Penn State on Wednesday. The Buckeyes took the first game, 9-1, before winning the nightcap, 7-4.
- Lilli Piper was tabbed as the Big Ten Player of the Week for the third time this season on Monday. She had a .667 batting average, six hits, three runs, three homers and nine RBI. She also had an outstanding 1.778 slugging percentage, .750 on-base percentage, 1.000 fielding percentage, 16 total bases and four extra-base hits. Piper had a three-run dinger on Friday and a pair of two-run homers on Sunday.
- The Buckeyes connected on five home runs in the series finale against Rutgers to tie the program record for most home runs in a game, which last happened on Apr. 16, 2017 vs. Indiana. It was the fourth time in program history that the Buckeyes hit five homers in a contest.
- Taylor White has started to come into her own over the last eight games, hitting .500 with 14 hits, 12 runs, eight RBI, four doubles, two home runs and a triple. She also has a .929 slugging percentage and .559 on-base percentage.
- Ohio State has reached its season high in hits (13) four times and has 10 games in double figures. The team has tallied double-digit hits in four of the last five games.
- Through nine Big Ten contests, Shelby McCombs is batting .438 with 14 hits, eight RBI, seven runs, four homers, two doubles and a .875 slugging percentage. Bailee Sturgeon has accumulated 15 hits, eight runs, three RBI, a triple and a .395 batting average. Taylor White is hitting .378 on 14 hits, 12 runs, eight RBI, four doubles, two home runs and a triple.
- Lilli Piper appears in multiple categories in the national rankings. She leads the country in home runs per game (0.47) and checks in third with 111 total bases. The junior is fourth in home runs (16), sixth in slugging percentage (.965) and RBIs per game (1.29), and 13th in runs per game (1.06). Piper has 44 RBI for 17thwhile standing 40thin batting average (.426).
- Ohio State leads the Big Ten with 45 home runs while coming in second in opposing batting average (.206) and slugging percentage (.492). The Buckeyes stand third in ERA (2.39) and fielding percentage (.970). The team has roped 56 doubles while the pitching staff has struck out 223 batters, which ranks third and fourth, respectively. Nationally, Ohio State is third in home runs per game (1.32) and 15th in doubles per game at 1.65. The squad also has a .492 slugging percentage (19th).
- In the circle, the 1-2 punch of Shelby McCombs and Morgan Ray have logged nearly every inning this year. The duo has 207 strikeouts over 215.2 innings of work. Ray ranks third in the Big Ten by limiting opponents to a .191 batting average, eighth in ERA (2.09) and fifth in strikeouts (117). McCombs stands 12th with a 2.58 ERA, seventh in opposing batting average (.205) and eighth in strikeouts (90).
Bailee Sturgeon is currently riding a nine-game hitting streak, the longest of her career. During that time, she is hitting .438, has 14 hits, eight runs scored, three RBI and a .486 on-base percentage. Taylor Whitehas recorded a hit in the last five games while Lilli Piper has successfully reached base in nine consecutive contests.
SWING FOR THE FENCE
Through 34 games, Ohio State has connected on 45 home runs. The Buckeyes have recorded at least one home run in 26 of 34 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 97 runs during her two years in Scarlet & Gray.
Ohio State is up to No. 22 in the USA Today/NFCA Coaches Poll and ESPN.com/USA Softball Poll. The Buckeyes have been receiving votes or ranked in both polls every week thus far.
The Buckeyes return to Buckeye Field to welcome Ohio for a doubleheader Tuesday, Apr. 17. Action is set to begin at 5 p.m. ET.