COLUMBUS, Ohio – Nearing the halfway point of its non-conference schedule, No. 16/19 Ohio State is heading to the West Coast for Spring Break. The Buckeyes will play 11 games over nine days in California. The trip kicks off this weekend at the Louisville Slugger Invitational. OSU will play a trio of midweek games before concluding the break at the Easton Invitational.
Ohio State vs. San Diego State | Friday, Mar. 9 | 1 p.m. PT/4 p.m. ET
Ohio State vs. San Jose State | Saturday, Mar. 10 | 10 a.m. PT/1 p.m. ET
Ohio State at Cal State Fullerton | Saturday, Mar. 10 | 12:30 p.m. PT/3:30 p.m. ET
Ohio State vs. No. 3/3 UCLA | Sunday, Mar. 11 | 10 a.m. PT/1 p.m. ET
San Diego State
2018 Record: 8-12
Last Weekend: Went 2-2 at the San Diego Classic with wins over UCF and No. 21/20 Minnesota. Lost to CSUN and Boston University.
Top Hitter: Katie Byrd, .297, 19 hits, 8 runs, 11 RBI
Top Pitcher: Alex Formby, 5-5, 59.0 IP, 1.78 ERA, 45 Ks
San Jose State
2018 Record: 12-7
Last Weekend: Was 2-0 at the Louisville Slugger Tournament behind victories over Wagner and Providence.
Top Hitter: Cassidy Clark, .411, 23 hits, 13 runs, 7 RBI
Top Picher: Caroline Bowman, 7-0, 45.0 IP, 3.27 ERA, 29 Ks
Cal State Fullerton
2018 Record: 9-9
Last Weekend: Coming off a 7-1 triumph over Michigan State on Tuesday.
Top Hitter: Brooke Clemetson, 18 hits, 17 runs, 3 RBI
Top Picher: Taylor Dockins, 5-2, 43.1 IP, 2.75 ERA, 18 Ks
No. 3/3 UCLA
2018 Record: 19-0
Last Weekend: One of three remaining undefeated teams in the country after sweeping the San Diego Classic, 4-0.
Top Hitter: Aaliyah Jordan, .540, 27 hits, 26 RBI, 19 runs, 3 HR
Top Picher: Rachel Garcia, 8-0, 49.2 IP, 0.70 ERA, 79 Ks
IN A NUTSHELL
- Ohio State is 11-1 after picking up three wins at the Texas Invitational Feb. 23-24. The Buckeyes have won their last six games and have outscored its opponents, 36-17, during the streak.
- Lilli Piper earned her first Big Ten honor of the season when she was named the conference’s player of the week on Feb. 26. She hit .500, connected on two home runs – including a walk-off homer in the first meeting with Wichita State on Friday – and drove in five runs. Piper tallied five hits, seven runs, a team-high 14 total bases and a 1.400 slugging percentage to claim the award.
- Piper leads the team in nearly every offensive category, including batting average (.413), hits (19), runs scored (17), RBI (17), doubles (6), home runs (5), total bases (42) and slugging percentage (.913).
- In the circle, the 1-2 punch of Shelby McCombs and Morgan Ray have logged nearly every inning this year. The duo has 90 strikeouts over 82.2 innings of work. Ray ranks second in the Big Ten with a 1.05 ERA and McCombs is sixth (1.48).
The Buckeyes rank in the top five in the conference in batting average (.277), slugging percentage (.499), on base percentage (.358), home runs (17), earned run average (1.31) and fielding percentage (.959).
Individually, Lilli Piper stands first in slugging percentage (.913), runs scored (17) while coming in second with a .413 batting average, 17 RBI and five home runs. Emily Clark (.648) and Shelby McCombs (.655) are third and fourth, respectively, in slugging percentage. Morgan Ray’s 1.05 ERA is third and McCombs’ 1.48 ERA and 47 strikeouts both rank sixth.
Ohio State’s Spring Break excursion is part of a 26-game stretch on the road to begin the 2018 season. During that stretch, the Buckeyes will have six games against five opponents that played in last year’s NCAA Tournament.
Lilli Piper is averaging 1.42 runs per game, which is the third-best mark in the country. Her 1.42 runs batted in per game (12th) and .913 slugging percentage (15th) places her among the nation’s top athletes. As a team, the Buckeyes are 14th in scoring (6.42) and the pitching staff ranks 15th behind a 1.31 ERA.
Through 12 games, Ohio State was pushed to extra innings four consecutive times. The Buckeyes put up 24 hits, 17 RBI and seven home runs in those games on their way to a 3-1 mark. 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 five 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 12 games, Ohio State has connected on 17 home runs. The Buckeyes have recorded at least one home run in 10 of 12 games and has two games with three homers.
A handful of Buckeyes are on their way to reaching career milestone as the season progresses. Emily Clark has already surpassed one milestone as she recorded the 100th hit of her career against Northern Illinois on Feb. 10. She has driven in 85 runs and is on track to cross the 100-RBI plateau. Lilli Piper is just six hits away from reaching 100 for her career while Ashley Goodwin has 88. Heading into the weekend, Taylor White has 99 runs and 93 RBI.
Ohio State moved up three spots in the USA Today/NFCA Coaches Poll to No. 16. The squad remained at No. 19 in the ESPN.com/USA Softball Poll. The Buckeyes have been receiving votes or ranked in both polls every week thus far.
Ohio State will visit Loyola Marymount for a doubleheader on Tuesday, Mar. 13 with action beginning at 12 p.m. PT/3 p.m. ET.