#21 OSU softball blanks #16 Michigan
COLUMBUS, Ohio - Shelby McCombs provided the pitching. Ashley Goodwin, Anna Kirk and Becca Gavin took care of the run support. Over 1,800 fans chipped in with another record-setting crowd and memorable atmosphere. It all added up to a 5-0 shutout win for the 21st-ranked Buckeyes (23-9, 7-2) over No. 16 Michigan (28-8-1, 8-1) on Sunday.
THE SHORT STORY
McCombs' masterpiece was highlighted by 10 strikeouts over seven innings as she continually held one of the best offensive teams in the conference at bay, allowing just three singles while walking only one. At the plate, the Buckeyes' offense was able to chase UM pitcher Megan Betsa out of the game in the fifth inning as the Scarlet and Gray received a solo home run Kirk in the third and a back-breaking three-run shot from Goodwin in the fifth. Ohio State's win snapped Michigan's 14-game winning streak and was the most earned runs Betsa has given up since a 6-4 loss to Notre Dame earlier in February.
HOW THE RUNS WERE SCORED
McCombs allowed just one base runner over the first three innings of the game and then got what proved to be the only run that she'd need in the bottom of the third when Kirk belted a 1-2 offering Betsa over the center field wall. It was Kirk's fifth homer of the season and her 17th RBI.
Even with the slimiest of leads, McCombs was able to work her way through the Michigan order in the top of the fourth. The Wolverines finally got their first hit on a two-out single to center by Aidan Falk and after the next batter was hit, UM was threatening with two on and two out. A strikeout looking to Abby Ramirez ended the threat and brought the record-breaking crowd of 1,836 to its feet.
Michigan went quietly in the top of the fifth, setting the stage for a four-run rally for the Buckeyes in the home half. It started with a Lilli Piper single through the ride side, at which point Betsa walked Clark (it was the second walk on the afternoon for Clark, who was also intentionally walked in the third). The next batter, Taylor White, struck out, but Gavin extended the inning with a key single to right field, allowing Piper to score and Clark to end up at third. Goodwin then delivered the dagger, a towering home run to left field on a 3-2 pitch that made the score 5-0.
Michigan had a base runner in the sixth inning but a fly out, ground out and key strikeout ended that threat. In the seventh, the Wolverines loaded the bases with two outs, but Faith Caifield grounded into a game-ending fielder's choice.
STARS OF THE GAME
McCombs: 7.0 IP, 10 Ks, three hits allowed, one walk
Goodwin: 2-3, 3-R HR, 3 RBI
Clark: 1-1, 2 BB, 1 RS
For the second time in 24 hours, Buckeye Field saw a record crowd come through the gates. Today, 1,836 filled the stadium, topping yesterday's mark of 1,764. Overall, the three game-attendance of 4,979 is also a series record. The Buckeyes have already surpassed the 1,000 mark four times this season.
STREAKS AND SNIPITS
- The complete game shutout was Ohio State's ninth on the season and the first of the year for McCombs. She is 4-0 this spring with a 1.66 ERA in 33.2 innings. On the weekend, McCombs struck out 16 batters over 12.0 innings while allowing just two earned runs.
- Ohio State pitchers allowed just six extra base hits in 21 innings this weekend and none of Sunday.
- Piper has now recorded at least one hit in 10 of her last 11 games.
- The win over Michigan is Ohio State's first over the Maze and Blue since April of 2010 and snaps the Wolverines' 25-game Big Ten regular season win streak.
- The Buckeyes' hit five home runs this weekend to up their conference-leading total to 42. Ten of the last 16 that have left the park have come with runners on base.
- Four of the five runs that crossed the plate today for Ohio State came with two outs. For the season, 96 of the 187 runs batted in have come with two outs (51.3 percent).
Ohio State travels to State College, Pa. to take on Penn State on Wednesday in a mid-week doubleheader. The game will be broadcast live on BTN Plus and a link to live stats can be found on the schedule page of OhioStateBuckeyes.com.