Rutgers swept by Ohio State on the road
The Rutgers softball team entered the weekend riding high on just its second winning streak of the season, and hoped that it could get even higher. But instead, the team fell back down with three consecutive losses.
The Scarlet Knights (9-24, 1-5) dropped all three games to Ohio State (22-7, 6-0) in Columbus by mercy rule. The Buckeyes outscored Rutgers 32-3 during the sweep.
“I’m not sure if it’s because we didn’t pitch very well or Ohio State hits the ball very well, so it was probably a bit of both,” said head coach Jay Nelson.
Ohio State roughed up the Knights' pitching over the weekend, leading to the lopsided scores. The Buckeyes scattered 37 hits across the three games, making it a long game for whoever was in the circle.
"They're a great team, and you got to hand it to them," said freshman second baseman Taryn Atlee. "They hit the ball hard, put the ball hard in play, and they did their job. It's definitely always tough to go against a team like that."
The series started under a cloud of doubt. With rain in the forecast, many thought that the game would be postponed to Saturday. But the teams did manage to get some action in before the rain came down, but not before the Buckeyes did damage.
After each team left the bases loaded in the first, Ohio State tallied 3 runs in the third and 2 in the fourth before rain halted play in the middle of the inning. The Buckeyes would score 2 more in the frame when play resumed the next day, and followed up with another run in the fifth to end the game early, winning 8-0.
Rutgers did not fare much better in the second game on Saturday, losing 12-2, again in five innings. This time they started with a lead before quickly giving it up.
The Knights struck first with 2 in the first before Ohio State responded with 3 in the bottom of the inning to take the lead, one which they would never give up. The Buckeyes then quickly piled on 9 runs in the next two innings to blow the game wide open.
Rutgers had no answers for the offensive barrage, as they went down without a fight, unable to score any runs to extend the game. But while the offense couldn't get going, there were some positives pitching-wise, like the improvement of freshman Cambria Keefer. She pitched four innings in relief, giving up four hits and 4 runs, 3 of them earned.
"I think I did better than I had in our past games and I'm starting to find my groove in the circle," she said.
The Sunday finale was just as cruel to Rutgers as the previous day was, as the team once again lost, this time by a score of 12-1 in five innings.
The Knights found themselves in an early hole yet again, giving up 4 runs in the first. They tried to respond by loading the bases in the second, but were unable to come up with any runs.
Ohio State then took advantage of Rutgers’ missed opportunity by adding 4 more in the bottom of the second to push the lead to eight, and while the Knights did push across a run in the next inning, the Buckeyes scored 2 each in the third and fourth to take a double-digit lead and end the game early once again.
Despite the lopsided results, Nelson still found time to praise his team for what they did right, specifically focusing on the offensive performances of freshman shortstop Nicole Bowman and junior first baseman Rebecca Hall
"They both had a great showing at the plate," he said. "If you look at the overall week, Rebecca is batting close to .600 with five RBIs and a home run, so there are some positives."
In the circle, senior Shayla Sweeney started and lost all three games, dropping her record to 8-9 on the year. Keefer thought that her fellow pitcher fell victim to Ohio State's offense rather than a poor performance, noting that she has been doing well all year.
Rutgers returns to the diamond tomorrow to face in-state rival Seton Hall (16-13-1, 3-3), its last of 34 straight games on the road to open the season.
"We've got to bounce back, and we'll be looking to do that Wednesday," Nelson said.
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