April 26, 2017

PREVIEW: Buckeyes Meet Hawkeyes This Weekend in Columbus


April 26, 2017

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COLUMBUS, Ohio – Ohio State enters the stretch run of its regular season this weekend at a familiar place: Buckeye Field. Ohio State hosts Iowa for a three-game set that will serve as the final conference home games and a chance to celebrate the Buckeyes’ 2017 senior class.

Iowa at Ohio State (DH Gm. 1) | Friday, April 28 | 5 p.m. | Buckeye Field
 Watch Live (BTN Plus) | Live Stats | Twitter Updates

Iowa at Ohio State (DH Gm. 2) | Friday, April 28 | 7:30 p.m. | Buckeye Field
 Watch Live (BTN Plus) | Live Stats | Twitter Updates

Iowa at Ohio State | Sunday, April 30 | 1 p.m. | Buckeye Field
 Watch Live (BTN Plus) | Live Stats | Twitter Updates

• After splitting four games on the road last week, Ohio State is 28-13 overall, 11-6 in the Big Ten and in fourth place in the conference standings.
• For the sixth consecutive week, the Buckeyes are ranked in the ESPN.com/USA Softball poll and are receiving votes in the USA Today/NFCA poll.
• Five everyday starters are batting .300 or better for a squad that ranks fifth in the conference with a .302 team batting average.
• Sophomore Lilli Piper leads all Big Ten newcomers and is second in the league with a .416 average. She’s also hit a team-best 14 home runs and driven in 46 runs. Last Sunday at Michigan State, she went 3-for-4 with a pair of two-run home runs, including one in the sixth inning that tied the game at 2-2.
• Senior Alex Bayne checks in as second on the team in both home runs (13) and average (.338). She has 32 home runs over the last two seasons.
Maddie Marotti took a hold of the designated player role early in the Big Ten play and is hitting .333 with a double, triple and five RBI in the 20 games that she’s played in.
• The other two .300 hitters in the Buckeyes’ lineup are Emily Clark (.331, 36 RBI, 22 runs scored) and Becca Gavin (.300, four doubles, three home runs, 15 RBI). Gavin had the go-ahead two-run double in the sixth inning vs. Michigan State last Sunday.
Anna Kirk is a veteran of 197 career games and is hitting .293 this year with six home runs, 23 RBI, 27 walks and a .450 on-base percentage.
• Junior Taylor White has 21 RBI in 17 Big Ten games, good for second in the league. She’s also hitting .292 and has swiped a team-best 12 bases.
• All five pitchers that the Buckeyes have used this year have an ERA under 3.00, led by Shelby Hursh at 2.26 over 105.1 innings. She’s 12-5 on the year and has struck of 97 batters.
• Fellow senior Lena Springer is second with eight wins and 66.2 innings with a 2.62 ERA. Sophomore Morgan Ray, who started against Michigan State on Sunday, has a 2.45 ERA in 40.0 innings while Shelby McCombs (5-1, 2.53 ERA, 47.0 IP) and Katya Duvall (0.88 ERA, 8.0 IP) round out the staff.

All three games this weekend will be streamed live on BTN Plus (subscription required). Live stats can also be accessed by visiting the schedule tab at OhioStateBuckeyes.com.

• Friday: Post-game fireworks
• Saturday: Parents Day, post-game meet and greet
• Sunday: Senior Day, free popcorn for first 100 youth, post-game kids runs the bases

2017 Record: 16-27, 7-10 B1G
2016 Record: 13-39, 3-20 B1G
Top Hitters: Cheyenne Pratt – .288, 11 runs scored; Kaitlyn Mullarkey – .264, 16 RBI, 18 runs scored; .373 on-base percentage
Top Pitchers: Allison Doocy – 2.70 ERA, 122.0 IP, 102 Ks, .264 batting average against; Shayla Starkenburg – 2.63 ERA, 109.0 IP, 65 Ks, .268 batting average against
Series History: Iowa owns a 65-40 record in the all-time series, although the two teams haven’t met since the 2014 season. That year, the Buckeyes took two of three from the Hawkeyes in Iowa City.

Only two players on Ohio State’s current roster – Shelby Hursh and Anna Kirk – have faced Iowa previously in their careers.
• Hursh pitched 9.2 innings vs. Iowa as a freshman in 2014 and has a 2.90 ERA with 10 strikeouts.
• Kirk was 3-for-9 (.333) in the series three years ago with a pair of RBI and runs scored.

Piper and Bayne are the top home-run hitting duo in the Big Ten, combining to hit 27 out of the park. The Buckeyes are 7-3 when Bayne homers and 11-2 when Piper hits at least one. Three times, they have hit one in the same game.

Following a week that saw her hit .643 with three home runs, six RBI and a 1.286 slugging percentage, Piper is now second in the league in batting (.416), fourth in slugging (.788), second in hits (57), fourth in RBI (46), ninth in runs scored (38) and third in home runs (14).

In Big Ten-only games, Piper’s numbers are even more impressive: she’s hitting .439 with a .895 slugging percentage, 19 RBI, 20 runs scored and eight home runs. That ranks her second in batting average, first in home runs, third in runs scored and third in RBI.

Since 2013, Ohio State is 51-23 at Buckeye Field with at least 10 wins in four straight seasons. A look at some of the numbers at home in 2017, where Ohio State is 7-3:
• .332 team batting average, which is 30 points higher than all games.
• 19 of the Buckeyes’ 52 home runs have come at home.
• Ohio State is averaging 6.8 runs/per game and on three occasions have scored 10+ runs.
• All five pitchers have seen at least 4.0 innings of action with a team ERA of 2.37.
Shelby McCombs has a 1.67 ERA with 22 strikeouts in 21 innings.
Emily Clark has played in all 10 home games this year and is batting .609 with a 1.087 slugging percentage, three home runs, 13 RBI and 12 runs scored.

• Ohio State has outscored its opponents 78-30 over the first two innings.
• The Buckeyes are averaging 1,065 fans over the first 10 home games, which would break the single-season attendance record.
• 117 of the 222 runs that have been drive in this year have come with two outs (52.7 percent). As a team, the Buckeyes are batting .350 with two outs, led by Piper, who is 25-for-58 (.431).
• Gavin and Bayne has reached base successfully in 12 and 11 straight games, respectively.
• As a staff, Ohio State pitchers have inherited 62 runners in relief situations and only 17 of them have ended up scoring, giving them a 73 percent success rate.
• The Buckeyes have three pitchers that rank among the top 15 in the Big Ten in ERA: Hursh (2.26), McCombs (2.53) and Springer (2.63).
• The Big Ten-only games, Ohio State ranks in the top three in batting (second, .331), slugging (first, .551), on-base percentage (.419), runs scored (second, 117), hits (first, 156), home runs (first, 27) and RBI (second, 108).
• In the circle, the Buckeyes are fourth in B1G-only ERA, fifth in opponent batting average (.269) and third in stirkeouts (83).

Anna Kirk | Groveport, Ohio | Major: Sport Industry
Entering the weekend, Kirk has played in 197 games for the Scarlet and Gray – the most amongst active players. She’s amassed 129 hits, 113 runs scored, 88 RBI and 20 home runs while playing both second and third base. This year, she’s hitting .293 with six home runs, 23 RBI, a team-high 38 runs scored and a .969 fielding percentage, which is a career high. As a sophomore in 2015, Kirk drove in 40 runs while hitting .333 to go along with 10 home runs and nine doubles.

Off the field, Kirk is a three-time OSU Scholar-Athlete who had the unique experience last summer of traveling with Soles4Souls to Bolivia to deliver shoes to residents. She described it as, “one of the greatest times I have had here as a Buckeye.”

Shelby Hursh | Tipton, Ind. | Major: English
Hursh is Ohio State’s active career leader in every pitching category including wins (40), saves (16), innings (460.0), ERA (3.52) and strikeouts (477). Over the last two years, she’s 28-17 and has pitched 282.2 innings. Her 477 Ks ranked fifth all-time and 40 wins are tied for seventh best. This year, she ranks amongst the Big Ten’s best in ERA (fifth), strikeouts (seventh), wins (seventh) and opponent batting average (fifth).

This past February, Hursh pulled off a rare student-athlete doubleheader: she participated in a graduate school interview on a Saturday morning, flew in the afternoon to College Station, Texas and was the winning pitcher that night in a game against Lamar. Hursh was accepted into the graduate program – Counselor Education – and will begin her studies for a master’s degree this fall.

Alex Bayne | Manvel, Texas | Major: Kinesiology
One of the best power hitters in the country, Bayne has hit 32 home runs over the last two seasons while also batting well over .300 in each of her three seasons. A first team All-Big Ten and All-Region pick last spring, she’s currently second on the team with a .338 average to go along with 13 home runs, 31 RBI and 38 runs scored. Her 36 career homers are the fifth most in school history and .356 career batting average is sixth best.

Bayne has already earned her degree in communications from Ohio State and is currently enrolled in the Sports Management master’s degree program. She’s on pace to graduate this August.

Lena Springer | New Britain, Conn. | Major: Criminology & Criminal Justice
Springer joined the Scarlet and Gray in 2015 and has statistical improvements in every category over the last three years. As a junior last spring, she earned the team’s Most Improved Player award after shaving nearly four runs off her ERA for the season prior. This year, she’s second on the team with 66.2 innings pitched and has a 2.62 ERA, which is 11th best in the Big Ten. Over the past two seasons she has eight complete games and four shutouts to her credit. This past February against Louisville at the ACC/Big Ten Challenge, she retired 16 straight batters in a 4-3 win over Louisville and would go on to pitch a complete game shutout against her former team, UCF, in Orlando later during the non-conference schedule.