April 19, 2017

PREVIEW: Weekend Series at Michigan State Awaits


April 19, 2017

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COLUMBUS, Ohio – Back on the road and back in conference play, No. 25 Ohio State heads north to East Lansing, Mich. this weekend to meet Michigan State for a three-game series beginning on Friday at 4 p.m. The Buckeyes and Spartans also face off on Saturday and Sunday, both slated for 1 p.m. starts.

No. 25 Ohio State at Michigan State | Friday, April 21 | 4 p.m. | Secchia Stadium
 Watch Live (BTN) | Live Stats | Twitter Updates

No. 25 Ohio State at Michigan State | Saturday, April 22 | 1 p.m. | Secchia Stadium
 Watch Live (BTN Plus) | Live Stats | Twitter Updates

No. 25 Ohio State at Michigan State | Sunday, April 23 | 1 p.m. | Secchia Stadium
 Watch Live (BTN Plus) | Live Stats | Twitter Updates

Friday’s game will be aired live on BTN while the Saturday and Sunday contests can be seen on BTN Plus (subscription required).

• Ohio State picked up a non-conference win at Pittsburgh on Tuesday to improve to 27-11 overall. After last weekend’s series victory over Indiana, the Buckeyes are 10-4 in the Big Ten.
• The Scarlet and Gray check in at No. 25 in the ESPN.com/USA Softball Top 25 poll and are the top squad in the others receiving votes category in the USA Today/NFCA poll. Ohio State has been ranked in the USA Softball poll for four straight weeks.
• Following a 3-for-3 performance against Pitt that included a go-ahead two-run home run, Lilli Piper raised her average above .400 and leads the Buckeyes in batting (.405), RBI (42), slugging (.762) and hits (51).
• Senior Alex Bayne has 13 home runs this year and 32 over the last two seasons to go along with her .336 average, which is second best on the team. She’s also the second member of this year’s 30/30 club (team-high 36 runs scored, 30 RBI).
Emily Clark is hitting nearly .400 in her last 10 games and overall checks in with a .331 average, 36 RBI and 22 runs scored. She also had a team-high eight doubles.
• Three other starters – Maddie Marotti (.325), Taylor White (.309) and Anna Kirk (.308) – have averages at .300 or better. White had three hits on Tuesday – including what proved to be the decisive RBI – while Kirk and Marotti each had one hit. Overall, Ohio State’s lineup features six players batting .300 or better.
• Senior Shelby Hursh picked up her team-leading 11th win of the year and has a 2.24 ERA in 97.0 innings. Six of her eight strikeouts were the final out of the inning.
Shelby McCombs, a junior, came in to record the final two outs for her first save of the year. Over the last 10 games, McCombs has three wins, a save and a 2.33 ERA in 27.0 innings.

2017 Record: 21-17, 5-8 B1G
2016 Record: 27-28, 8-16 B1G
Top Hitter: Lea Foerster .405, 10 home runs, .828 slugging percentage, 15 doubles, 33 RBI; Kaitlyn Eveland .337, 27 RBI, 20 runs scored, five home runs
Top Pitcher: Bridgette Rainey 12-7, 95.2 IP, 105 Ks, .278 batting average against
Series History: Ohio State leads the all-times series 66-43 over the Spartans and since 2013, is 9-2 with sweeps in 2013, 2014 and 2015. Last year in Columbus, Michigan State won two of three games in the regular-season finale series. The last time the two teams met in East Lansing, Ohio State registered wins by scores of 6-4, 8-4 and 15-5.

• Bayne has hit .500 or better in both career series against MSU, most recently going six-for-11 vs. the Spartans last season while also driving in a run and scoring three times. She’s played in six career games with both a .538 average and on-base percentage.
• Hursh has 15.0 innings pitched in her career against Michigan State and earned a save in the opening game of the 2015 series.
• Kirk hit a home run and had four RBI in 2015 at Michigan State.
• Springer’s 2.28 ERA in 15.1 innings leads the pitching staff. She was the winning pitcher in a 8-4 victory at MSU in 2015 and has given up just five earned runs in four appearances.
Bailee Sturgeon played in all three games vs. Michigan State in and reached base safely in five of her seven plate appearances.

• Piper hit a go-ahead two-run home run in the third inning – her 12th home run on the season and second in as many games – and White added what proved to be the decisive RBI in the top of the seventh as Ohio State hung on for a 3-2 win at Pitt.
• The win was the Buckeyes’ fourth this year against a RPI top-50 team.
• Hursh had eight strikeouts – her fourth with seven or more this year – and six of the eight were the final out of the inning.
• The Buckeyes own 21 true road wins over the last two seasons.
• Ohio State’s pitching staff gave up two runs or less for the 20th time this season. It is third in the Big Ten in team ERA.
• White had a stolen base – her 12th of the year – and made the Buckeyes 40-of-43 on the year in steal attempts (.930).

Ohio State enters the weekend in fourth place in the standings and has reached double digits in conference wins for the fifth straight season. The Buckeyes rank in the top of the league in every major hitting and pitching category. Their 49 home runs are tops in the league and .303 overall batting average is sixth best. In the circle, Ohio State’s five-person staff checks in with a 2.26 ERA, third best in the league. It is also third in opponent batting average (.237), strikeouts (215) and strikeouts per seven innings (6.1). On defense, Ohio State’s .965 fielding percentage is also third best in the B1G.

Lilli Piper | .313, four home runs, six RBI, .719 slugging percentage
Piper went 3-for-3 with a home run, single and walk against Pitt after a two-hit performance in the series finale against Indiana that included a solo home run. In conference-only games, she’s currently tied for 11th (with teammate Alex Bayne) in batting (.413), fifth in slugging (.848), first in runs scored (17) and fourth in RBI (15).

Bayne/Clark | .370, four home runs, three doubles, 13 runs scored
Bayne and Clark both homered in Sunday’s win over Indiana and then followed that up by each getting hits on Wednesday at Pitt. Bayne’s 13 home runs this season is just one shy of the conference lead (Kendyl Lindaman of Minnesota and Nicole Evans of Illinois both have 14) while Clark is eighth in the league in RBI (36).

Over the past three seasons, Ohio State has hit 187 home runs – the most of any three-year stretch in school history – to go along with 204 doubles and a slugging percentage of .521. This year, the Buckeyes rank 12th nationally with 1.28 home runs/game. Of the 49 long balls hit this year, 23 have come with runners on base – including six grand slams – and home runs have accounted for 39.2 percent of Ohio State’s total runs scored (88 of 224).

In addition to the four regular season games that will be broadcast on BTN, fans will also have the opportunity to see the Scarlet and Gray several more times in BTN Plus (subscription required). Among the remaining scheduled broadcasts are:
• April 22 and April 23 at Michigan State
• April 28-30 vs. Iowa
• May 3 vs. Kent State

Additionally, all 11 games of the 2017 Big Ten Tournament will appear live on BTN.

This weekend’s series finishes a stretch of four straight games away from Buckeye Field this week. Over the last two years, Ohio State owns 21 true road wins and 44 victories at either road of neutral sites. This season, the Scarlet and Gray are 9-3 on the road and batting .333 as a team. Both Piper (.512, 18 RBI) and Gavin (.400, five RBI) have been the best individual hitters while Springer (3-0, 1.91 ERA) and Hursh (3-1, 2.30 ERA) are the top road pitchers.

Ohio State hosts Iowa for the final Big Ten home series next weekend, April 28-30. Following that, it will welcome in Kent State for the 2017 home finale on Wednesday, May 3. The Buckeyes are 8-2 at home this year and have won 10 or more games at Buckeye Field in each of the last five seasons.