The Rivalry series ended with a win for the Buckeyes, but not without a fight from the Wolverines. This is a huge win for Ohio State, as it is the first time it has won this series in 33 years.
The game was all Ohio State for the first four innings. The duo of Allison Smith and Emily Ruck pitched once again, but Smith got the start. She only gave up one hit in the first before her offense took over in the bottom half of the inning.
With two runners on, Sam Hackenbracht hit a sac fly to score one, then a Meggie Otte single and Destinee Noury double scored two more runs to put the Buckeyes up 3-0. The second inning was almost identical as once again, only one runner reached on Smith. Then, on the flip side, Mariah Rodriguez hit a RBI triple before Melina Wilkison knocked her in with a two-run home run, now making it 6-0.
It's 4-0 #Buckeyes!#GoBucks pic.twitter.com/4kuXe93RFW— Ohio State Softball (@OhioStateSB) March 27, 2023
Smith cruised through a 1-2-3 third inning and her offense tacked on one more run as the result of a bases loaded walk. Each team scored one run in the fourth before the Wolverines started to come back in the fifth inning.
Smith gave up a walk and two singles to load the bases, then another walk to allow a run. Another run crossed the plate from a fielder’s choice and a throwing error, so Ruck came in for relief. She earned two quick outs, ending the inning with the Buckeyes up 8-4.
The sixth inning was rough for Ruck as she gave up three hits and three runs, now putting the Wolverines within one. Ohio State didn’t add any runs in the bottom of the inning, but it ended up not mattering as Ruck pulled it together in the top of the seventh. She only gave up one hit before striking out two and ended the inning with a groundout.
#B1G rivalry series win secured!#GoBucks pic.twitter.com/mAL2P596lH— Ohio State Softball (@OhioStateSB) March 27, 2023
Overall, Smith had a strong start before faltering one inning and Ruck stayed strong in the seventh, now allowing the Wolverines to tie or go ahead. Clearly, the offense went off as well, as seven of the nine starters had at least one hit. Melina Wilkison continued her monstrous season, bumping up her average to .407 at the plate and knocking in three RBi.
Ohio State is now 20-8 on the season and 2-1 in conference play! Michigan has been one of the top dogs in the Big Ten for decades, as head coach Carol Hutchins coached there for 38 years before retiring at the end of last season. Now with a first-year head coach, the Buckeyes took advantage and were fully the better team this past weekend.
The Bucks are back in action against Dayton Wednesday for a 3 p.m. game against the Flyers. The contest will be streamed on BTN+.