All wins look the same in the record book, but this one will be one to remember for the Ohio State softball team (29-11, 10-6). After falling out of the NCAA rankings on Monday, the Buckeyes had two of their three mid-week games against the in-state rival Ohio Bobcats (28-14, 15-2) postponed due to weather, and they probably wish that the third one had been as well, as they fell 7-0.
So, coming into the weekend series hosting Michigan State (16-24, 4-11), OSU needed to get right as the team heads into the last two weeks of the regular season. The Buckeyes took care of business on Friday, winning 10-2 in a five-inning game shortened by run rule.
Likewise on Saturday, the home team made easy work of the Spartans scoring six in the third inning en route to a 6-2 victory.
However, on Sunday, MSU put up a bit more of a fight. In the top of the third, the Spartans hung four runs on the Buckeyes, thanks to a single, a walk, an OSU error, a triple by Kaitlyn Eveland, and a fielder’s choice.
As the Buckeyes came to bat in the bottom of the frame, they were already down 4-0. The teams would trade a run apiece, before the Buckeyes came to bat in the bottom of the fifth.
To lead off the action, freshman Niki Carver tripled to right field. After a Bailee Sturgeon strike out, junior Lilli Piper knocked a single to right scoring Carver. From there, a double from pitcher Shelby McCombs put two on for Emily Clark, and the junior deposited the 0-1 pitch behind the wall in left field.
The homer was Clark’s eighth of the year, and tied the game at five, where it would stay until the Buckeyes came to bat in the bottom of the seventh inning.
McCombs led off the inning with a double to left center, and was followed to the plate by Clark once again. As she did in the fifth, Clark put a charge in the ball, but this time it was in the alley to right field. Spartan freshman Katie Quinlan calmly collected the ball at the warning track, and McCombs tagged up and advanced to third on the sacrifice fly.
However, Quinlan’s throw got past the cut-off, and weakly dribbled towards the circle. McCombs, noticing the error, sprinted for home, and though senior pitcher Bridgette Rainey made the play close at home, McCombs slid in ahead of an errant throw, giving OSU the victory, and the series sweep.
The win moved the Buckeyes a half game ahead of Illinois (30-15, 9-6) for fifth place in the Big Ten standings. OSU trails fourth-place Northwestern by one game.
McCombs finished the game going 3-for-4 and got the win. Clark was 2-4 with four RBI, and Piper collected the team’s fifth run batted in. McCombs’ game-winning run was unearned, due to the error charged to Quinlan.
Following the come-from-behind victory, the Buckeyes celebrated in the only way imaginable, given the circumstances.
The Ohio State softball team will be back in action this weekend, as they host Maryland (18-30, 7-10) for a three-game series. All three contests will air on BTN Plus. The following week will be the final of the regular season, and the Buckeyes will have a mid-week home game against Pittsburg, before traveling to Ann Arbor, Mich. for a three-game series against the conference’s top team, the No. 14 Michigan Wolverines. (35-7, 13-1).
The Big Ten Tournament will take place the following week in Madison, Wis.