In their final home series of the season, the Buckeyes failed to win a single game against the Minnesota Golden Gophers. Minnesota simply outplayed them top to bottom, but that didn’t stop Buckeye nation from showing their support during Fan Appreciation Weekend.
Let’s get into each of the games, and show some love for the four seniors.
Friday’s game was the game of the long ball, as Minnesota hit four home runs en route to a 7-1 victory. This was Allison Smith’s first outing since her no-hitter last Sunday, and she really struggled. The Gophers hit a two-run home run in the second to put their first runs on the board, and piled on from there.
Smith gave up back-to-back solo home runs in the third to give Minnesota a 4-0 lead. A RBI double in the sixth tacked on another run, then a two-run blast in the seventh made it 7-0. The Buckeyes failed to string together any offense up until the seventh, when Jaycee Ruberti hit a solo home run, and then her following two batters both singled, but they were left stranded.
Touch 'em all, Jaycee Ruberti!#GoBucks pic.twitter.com/2YB1jhImdq— Ohio State Softball (@OhioStateSB) April 29, 2023
Overall, the Buckeye offense went 7-for-28. Smith pitched 6.1 innings, and gave up seven runs off six hits and three walks, while striking out ten. Kennedy Kay came in to pitch the final two outs of the seventh.
I actually went to Saturday’s game, my first game of the season! The atmosphere at Buckeye Field is super electric, led mostly by the players’ parents. This game started off with a little bit of controversy.
One of Minnesota’s players popped straight out to Mariah Rodriguez at first base, but collided with her as she was running towards first. It was clearly an intentional act, and it knocked Rodriguez to the ground and caused her nose to bleed. The umpires looked at it on video replay and ejected the Minnesota player from the game. Once Rodriguez got her nose to stop bleeding, she fired up the crowd with her return to the field.
Emily Ruck got the start this day and clearly didn’t have it from the start. She gave up two singles and a walk right off the bat, then another single scored two runs. The second inning went smoothly, but she lost it in the third. A leadoff home run, followed by three walks to load the bases resulted in Lexi Paulsen coming in for relief.
Paulsen did pretty well considering the circumstances she came into. She walked the first batter she faced which allowed a run, got a strikeout, gave up a RBI single and struck out the next batter for the third out.
The Buckeye offense fought back in the bottom of the inning, starting with a Melina Wilkison double and Kami Kortokrax scoring her with a single. Ruberti’s triple scored two and Hannah Church’s single through the left side scored Ruberti, making it 5-4, Minnesota.
Lots of good things happening for Ohio State in the bottom of the third.— Ohio State Softball (@OhioStateSB) April 29, 2023
Here's a recap. #GoBucks pic.twitter.com/dV6QHdbuoH
In the fourth inning, Paulsen gave up four runs, with a three-run home run being the dagger. This put the Bucks down 9-4, before Wilkison hit a RBI triple in the sixth. In the bottom of the seventh, they tried to put together a comeback, as Ruberti singled with two outs, then Destinee Noury doubled to score her. However, McKenzie Bump struck out to end the game, as they lost 10-4.
I wanted to highlight Kennedy Kay in this game, as this was only her second appearance on Buckeye Field. She came in for relief in the fifth inning and only gave up two walks and two hits, one being a solo home run. Kay looked really comfortable on the rubber, and her stuff looked great too.
Froze her.@birdison45 | #GoBucks pic.twitter.com/ekxgt0k1LV— Ohio State Softball (@OhioStateSB) April 29, 2023
A 7-0 shutout to end the weekend was not pretty, so let’s get the recap over with. Smith started this game and struggled once again. Minnesota’s offense simply could not be contained. The first two innings were scoreless, before a four run, five hit attack in the third gave the Gophers the lead.
Kay came in for relief in the fourth and had a 1-2-3 inning in the fourth and fifth! However, she struggled in the sixth, giving up a walk and two singles, allowing one run, making it 5-0, Minnesota. Two singles given up in the seventh made Ruck come into pitch. She gave up two hits and two runs.
The Buckeye offense was almost nonexistent Sunday. They went a combined 3-for-24.
Happy Senior Day Mariah, Jaycee, Taylor and Meggie‼️— Ohio State Buckeyes (@OhioStAthletics) April 30, 2023
Let's have a day Buckeyes ✨#GoBucks | @OhioStateSB
Now, onto some positive news. Ohio State’s four seniors in Taylor Pack, Mariah Rodriguez, Meggie Otte and Jaycee Ruberti were all celebrated on Senior Day Sunday. All have had successful Buckeye careers— here’s a little bit about each of them.
According to ohiostatebuckeyes.com:
- Mariah Rodriguez: Has played in 128 career games entering the weekend. She was a first-team All-Big Ten performer in 2021 who has started 38 games this season at first base. Rodriguez has set a career-high this season in RBI (24), runs scored (30), doubles (six) and home runs (three). She is a four-time OSU Scholar-Athlete.
- Meggie Otte: Is having her best statistical season as a fifth-year senior, hitting .287 with nine doubles, two triples and five home runs. Otte also has a career-best 31 RBI and 24 runs scored. She entered the weekend having played in 198 career games with 151 hits, 107 RBI and 54 extra base hits.
- Taylor Pack: Has played in 116 games with 96 starts in her career. She was a 39-game starter last season at catcher. Pack hit her first career home run last season at Iowa. She is majoring in human development and family science.
- Jaycee Ruberti: Joined the Buckeyes in 2022 after playing three seasons at Hofstra. In 90 career games with Ohio State, Ruberti is batting .310 with 32 RBI, 57 runs scored with a .391 on-base percentage. She enrolled in Ohio State’s sports coaching master’s degree program.
The Buckeyes close out the regular season next weekend with a three-game series at Nebraska. It will be streamed on BTN+. Following this series will be the Big Ten Tournament.