April 10, 2017
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COLUMBUS, Ohio – Following the completion of its first homestand of the year, Ohio State continues conference play when it heads back on the road. This week’s destination: State College, Pa. for a midweek doubleheader on Wednesday against Penn State. The first game is slated to begin at 5 p.m. with the second contest following approximately 25 minutes after the conclusion of the first game.
BUCKEYES IN A NUTSHELL
Ohio State is 23-9 overall this season and 7-2 in the Big Ten following Sunday’s 5-0 shutout win over No. 16 Michigan.
The Buckeyes were ranked in both national polls last week, checking in at No. 25 in the USA Today/NFCA poll and No. 21 by ESPN.com/USA Softball.
Six players who had at least 60 at-bats are hitting .300 or better. That group is headlined by sophomore Lilli Piper, who is third in the Big Ten with a .425 average. Piper also had a team-best 39 RBI and is second with 31 runs scored. Her 10 home runs are second best on the team.
Right behind Piper is classmate Emily Clark. She’s hitting .333 this season with 33 RBI, seven doubles, five home runs and 20 runs scored. Two weeks ago, she hit .875 with a .917 on-base percentage in four wins over Wright State and Rutgers to earn co-Big Ten and espnW National Player of the Week honors.
Senior Alex Bayne continues to produce as one of the nation’s top power hitters. She is tied for third in the conference with 11 home runs, has driven in 28 runs and also scored 32 times. Her .327 average is third best on the team.
Taylor White (.316, eight home runs, 26 RBI) and Bri Betschel (.313, 15 runs scored, five stolen bases) round out the group of .300+ hitters. White has a league-best 21 RBI in nine conference games.
Ohio State’s 2.24 team ERA is third best in the conference as all five pitchers check in individually with a 2.50 ERA or lower.
In Sunday’s win, Shelby McCombs tossed a complete game shutout with a career-high 10 strikeouts while scattering just three hits against the Wolverines.
Shelby Hursh (76.1) and Lena Springer (62.2) are the innings leaders thus far. Hursh has a 2.29 ERA with six complete games and four shutouts while Springer has a 2.46 ERA and five complete games to her credit.
Sophomores Morgan Ray and Katya Duvall have combined to pitch 33.2 innings with a 1.87 ERA and .163 batting average against.
Both games on Wednesday’s doubleheader will be carried live on BTN Plus (subscription required). A link to live stats is also available on the schedule tab of OhioStateBuckeyes.com.
SCOUTING PENN STATE
2017 Record: 15-21, 3-6 B1G
2016 Record: 30-24, 14-9 B1G
Top Hitter: Rebecca Ziegler – .333, 20 RBI, nine doubles, three home runs; Shelby Miller – .289, 22 RBI, four home runs
Top Pitcher: Marlaina Laubach – 7-6, 83.1 IP, 51 Ks, .287 BAA
Series History: Ohio State leads the all-time series 53-31. Last year in Columbus, the Buckeyes took a doubleheader from the Nittany Lions with a 3-0 win (highlighted by a no-hitter from Shelby Hursh) in game one and 12-10 victory in the second contest. In the last four seasons, Ohio State is 8-2 against Penn State.
CAREER VS. PENN STATE
Hursh has five career appearances against the Nittany Lions with a 1.03 ERA in 20.1 innings of action with 23 strikeouts, two shutouts and a no-hitter to her credit. As a freshman in 2014, she pitched a complete game shutout with nine strikeouts in the second game of a doubleheader. Last year in Columbus, Hursh struck out a career high 13 as part of a no-hitter in the opening game and then pitched 3.1 innings in relief and picked up the win in game two.
Bayne had four hits in six at-bats of last year’s doubleheader, including home runs in each game.
White has played in four career games against Penn State with a .500 average (5-for-10), a double and one RBI. In last year’s doubleheader, she was 4-for-7 with two runs scored.
STREAKS AND SNIPITS – VS. MICHIGAN
The complete game shutout on Sunday was Ohio State’s ninth on the season and the first of the year for McCombs. She is 4-0 this spring with a 1.66 ERA in 33.2 innings. On the weekend, McCombs struck out 16 batters over 12.0 innings while allowing just two earned runs.
Ohio State pitchers allowed just six extra base hits in 21 innings last weekend and none on Sunday.
Piper has now recorded at least one hit in 10 of her last 11 games.
The win over Michigan was Ohio State’s first over the Maze and Blue since April of 2010 and snapped the Wolverines’ 25-game Big Ten regular season win streak.
The Buckeyes hit five home runs last weekend to up their conference-leading total to 42. Ten of the last 16 that have left the park have come with runners on base.
Four of the five runs that crossed the plate Sunday for Ohio State came with two outs. For the season, 96 of the 187 runs batted in have come with two outs (51.3 percent).
PACKIN’ THEM IN
On Saturday, 1,764 fans saw the first game of last weekend’s series between Ohio State and Michigan, setting a new single-game record. That record, however, only lasted for 24 hours. On Sunday, 1,836 packed the stadium. The total weekend attendance 4,979 is a series record as well.
With an average attendance of 1,152 through seven games, the Buckeyes are on pace to nearly double last year’s record of 598 fans/game.
Over the last three seasons, Buckeye Field has hosted 10 crowds of 1,000 or more:
3/21/15 vs. Michigan: 1,389
4/18/15 vs. Rutgers: 1,124
5/8/15 vs. Nebraska: 1,345
3/26/16 vs. Maryland: 1,172
4/24/16 vs. Purdue: 1,627
5/8/16 vs. Michigan State: 1,392
4/2/17 vs. Rutgers: 1,163
4/8/17 vs. Michigan: 1,764
4/8/17 vs. Michigan: 1,379
4/9/17 vs. Michigan: 1,836
THE LAST 10 GAMES – WHO’S HOT
Lilli Piper | .563, 17 RBI, five home runs, 17 runs scored
Piper ended Michigan’s 45-inning scoreless streak early in the first game of last weekend’s, going deep off Megan Betsa for a home run in the bottom of the first. In conference-only games, she leads the league in batting average (.552) and runs scored (15).
Taylor White | .500, 21 RBI, five home runs, 1.143 slugging percentage
Through six conference games, White leads the league with 21 RBI and also has five home runs in the last 10 games, including a two-run shot in the second game of Saturday’s doubleheader. Seven of her last 14 hits have been for extra bases.
Shelby McCombs | 1.05 ERA, 20.0 IP, 19 Ks
In addition to McCombs’ complete game shutout of the Wolverines last Sunday, she also went five innings on Saturday and struck out six. Two weeks ago against Rutgers, she finished off a three-game sweep by giving up just one run over four innings.
In the Big Ten stats, the Buckeyes rank in the top half in five major hitting categories: batting average (sixth, .307), slugging percentage (third, .510), on-base percentage (fifth, 399) and runs scored (sixth, 199).
Ohio State is third in the league in ERA (2.24), third in opponent batting average (.231) and fourth in strikeouts (182).
Kirk and White have both reached base in 11 consecutive games.
The Buckeyes are 17-4 when scoring first this year.
Lead off batters are reaching base nearly 42 percent of the time this year for Ohio State (83-for-200). Kirk, who was moved into the lead-off spot in mid-February, leads team in both on-base percentage (.500) and walks (25).
Six of the 26 runs that Taylor White’s driven in have come with two outs.
Ohio State given up five or less runs in eight of the last 11 games with three shutouts.
Over the last season and a half, the Buckeyes own 19 true road wins.
The fourth RPI of the 2017 was released on Monday and Ohio State is No. 29. The Buckeyes are 3-2 vs. teams ranked between 26 and 50 and own eight wins against Top 100 teams. It has already played 11 games against Top 50 opponents and has four remaining on the schedule (three vs. Illinois and one vs. Pittsburgh).