Rutgers set for 3 game series with No. 23 Ohio State
Due to inclement weather on Wednesday, the Rutgers softball team saw its non-conference game at home against St. Joseph’s University canceled. This weekend, the Scarlet Knights (17-16, 2-2) pick things back up with a three-game home series against Big Ten foe No. 23 Ohio State (21-8, 2-4).
So far this season, Rutgers and the Buckeyes have played four common opponents.
Both teams played FAU, which the Knights beat 5-4 in 15 innings and Ohio State beat 10-1. They have also both played Texas, Rutgers losing 2-0 and the Buckeyes winning 8-5. Ohio State has beaten Cal State Fullerton twice this year, while the Knights fell to them, 6-5.
Because it is early on in the Big Ten schedule, the teams have only played one similar Big Ten team, that being Wisconsin. While Rutgers was supposed to play the Badgers in a three-game series, weather allowed only one game to be played, which the Knights lost 6-3. The Buckeyes just completed a three-game series against Wisconsin, going 2-1.
According to RPI, Ohio State holds a significant advantage. The Buckeyes rank No. 28 overall in the country, while Rutgers sits at No. 112.
A huge reason for Ohio State’s success this season is because of its stellar pitching staff — most notably its two starters, Morgan Ray and Shelby McCombs, have been particularly exceptional.
Ray is 11-5 on the year with a 1.88 ERA and 101 strikeouts in 104.1 innings pitched. Her counterpart McCombs is 9-2 with a 2.75 ERA and 75 strikeouts in 81.1 innings pitched. Combined, both Ray and McCombs are allowing opposing batters to hit .189 off of them.
As far as hitting goes for Ohio State, Lilli Piper leads the team in batting average hitting .417. She also has 13 home runs (tied for sixth most in the country), 35 RBI’s and 11 doubles.
McCombs is next best on the Buckeyes, proving she can be double trouble not only on the mound, but in the batters box as well. McCombs is batting .316 with 7 home runs.
As a team, Ohio State is hitting .254, slightly lower than the Knights mark of .256. The Buckeyes are a better long ball team than Rutgers, hitting 33 home runs compared to the Knights’ 20 home runs.
Pitching is clearly the difference between these two teams. As mentioned earlier, Ohio State has a combined 2.40 ERA and allows hitters to bat .196 off of them. Rutgers has a combined 3.77 ERA and allows hitters to bat .308.
The entire Knights pitching staff has 95 strikeouts, while Ray alone has 101 on the season. The Buckeyes as a team have 190 total strikeouts.
Rutgers of course is being led at the plate by senior first baseman Rebecca Hall, who is hitting .385 with 6 home runs and 32 RBI’s. Junior infielder Jess Hughes is the next best Knight in the lineup, batting .288 and currently riding a 14-game hitting streak, which she will look to extend to 17 games after this weekend.
Game 1 of the 3-game series will be held Friday at 2 p.m., with game two on Friday at 4:30 p.m. and the final game on Sunday at noon. After the final game Sunday, Rutgers has four days off to prepare for Michigan, where they will play a three-game series next weekend.
For updates on the Rutgers softball team, follow @TargumSports on Twitter.