No. 24 Ohio State explodes for 38 runs in 3 games in sweep of Rutgers
Friday’s game between the Rutgers softball team and No. 24 Ohio State may not have been as cold as the Ice Bowl, but it was cold and windy enough where fans were bundled up in blankets with hand warmers and tissues on deck for their runny noses.
But that didn't affect the Buckeyes.
Ohio State (24-8-1, 9-1-1) annihilated the Scarlet Knights this past weekend, tallying 38 total runs over the course of a three-game sweep.
“They hit the crap out of the ball,” said head coach Jay Nelson. “And that’s the way they’ve been all year long. They hit against good teams, they hit against everyone.”
In a series where the Knights (18-23, 2-7) led in two separate games, their pitching could not hold the lead as they got swept for the second time this season against a Big Ten foe.
What looked like a win for Rutgers on Friday after four innings of play turned into an Ohio State rout, as the Buckeyes added 13 runs in the last three innings.
Aubrie Levine entered the circle for game one, allowing a total of 15 hits and 12 runs over 6 and 1-3 innings of work.
Ohio State struck first, scoring 2 runs in the first inning after Erika Leonard hit a 2-run home run to left center.
Rutgers would then tack on 4 runs of its own thanks to senior Melanie Slowinski’s 3-run shot to straight center off of the Big Ten’s second best pitcher in ERA this season, Shelby Hursh.
“I really didn’t think of who she was,” Slowinski said referring to Shelby Hursh.“I just went up to bat, it was the first inning and there was a lot of game to play.”
Sophomore Sierra Maddox would then add one more run in the bottom of the first inning by executing a double steal along with her teammate senior catcher Elizabeth Adams.
Ohio State would increase its lead by one after Emily Clark hit a solo shot to left field, making the score 4-3 Knights.
Both teams would earn a run each in the fourth, until the Buckeyes took their hitting to another level scoring 8 runs in the fifth, two in the sixth and three in the seventh.
Rutgers would drop the first contest by a score of 17-8, while Ohio State's Katya Duvall would receive her third win of the season.
In Saturday’s game, the Knights took an early lead via Slowinski’s RBI, scoring senior Stephanie Huang.
The Buckeyes would tack on 5 consecutive runs between the second and third until Rutgers added two of their own to make the score 5-3 after three innings.
Due to heavy rain, the rest of the game was scheduled to be resumed at 10 a.m. Sunday before the last game of the series.
After Ohio State would score a run in the top part of the fifth, senior Jordan Whitley hit a rocket to right center plating Slowinski and making the score 6-5 Ohio State.
In the seventh inning, the Buckeyes would continue their success at the plate, scoring 5 runs to make the score 11-5 and deteriorating any hope for a Knights' comeback.
Rutgers loaded the bases twice in the bottom half of the seventh, scoring a total of 4 runs, but coming a bit short, losing the game 11-9 and dropping its second straight game.
Although Huang added a hit and 2 runs, she felt the team couldn’t come through with a big play offensively or defensively.
“I think the biggest thing is making the big play when we needed it,” Huang said. “Whether it was on offense or defense, we really couldn’t come through when we needed it.”
In Sunday’s contest, senior pitcher Dresden Maddox took the circle.
Maddox allowed two quick runs in the first, but bounced back with four consecutive shutout innings, giving the Knights a chance to come back.
It wasn’t until the sixth and seventh inning where the Buckeyes would pull away and add 8 more runs to make the final score 10-0.
The Knights were held to just three hits on the day and Slowinski preached the need for the lineup to back their pitchers up.
“I just think they are a really good hitting team,” Slowinski said. “Our pitching did pretty well, they just got their bat on the ball. I mean our bats have to get going to back up our pitchers.”
Rutgers is now 0-9 versus ranked teams this season, but Nelson doesn’t seem to be too worried about the wins and losses, putting integrity before winning.
“I’m not worried,” Nelson said. “My goal is to get our girls to play better and to teach them how to play softball. And hopefully at the end of the year, we're in contention and we're fighting for a championship. But our integrity is much more important then our win and losses. Learning how to come back and attack after a tough loss like this is more important than anything. This is college, this isn’t the pros.”
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