To obtain its sixth straight win, the No. 23 Ohio State softball team had to be carried by its pitching Wednesday evening, downing Dayton 1-0. OSU junior Shelby Hursh pitched a complete game with 13 strikeouts, taking her season record to 13-3.
Redshirt junior outfielder Alex Bayne recorded the Buckeyes’ only hit of the game on her 18th home run of the year, bringing her within one of the program’s single-season home run record.
“One swing of the bat can matter, so just being there for my team is important,” Bayne said. “And them helping me stay up is really awesome.”
The Flyers went down in order in the top of the first inning, giving OSU the chance to grab an early lead on Bayne’s solo shot to left center field. Through the following two innings, both teams remained hitless, as Hursh and Dayton sophomore Manda Cash, who struck out nine through six innings, continued to best batters.
“(Hursh) pounded the zone,” said OSU coach Kelly Kovach Schoenly. “We didn’t mix it up, and sometimes we try and finesse the outside corners, which is where we get into trouble with walks.”
Dayton got its first runners aboard in the fourth inning with singles from freshman Kyle Davidson and junior Krista Gustafson but could not continue the streak to bring them home. The Flyers threatened the Buckeyes’ defense again in the fifth with a leadoff double from sophomore Kailee Budicin, and junior Katie Ryan reached first on a fielder’s choice with one out.
OSU kept its composure and got out of the jam but went down in order in the bottom of the inning, leaving the game in a tight, one-run game.
“Her wind-up was something we haven’t seen before, so we just had to zone in on every pitch,” Bayne said of the left-hander Cash.
Again, the Flyers got their leadoff batter, junior Gabrielle Snyder, aboard on Hursh’s only walk of the game, but sophomore Becca Gavin caught her stealing on a snap throw to second base in the top of the sixth. Hursh added two more strikeouts to silence Dayton’s bats and give her opponents one last chance to score.
“We haven’t been faced with a lot of low-scoring games, so I actually really enjoyed Shelby rising to not even allow a run,” Schoenly said.
In the bottom of the sixth, Bayne headed to first base on her second walk of the day and stole her fifth base of the year, but seniors Cammi Prantl and Erika Leonard left her stranded. In the final inning, Dayton went down in order to give OSU a piece of momentum heading into this weekend.
“I just want to keep a positive attitude for my team. If I don’t get it done in an at-bat, I know that I can make a difference next at-bat,” Bayne said. “Just embracing every moment.”
Schoenly shared Bayne’s optimism of Wednesday’s close outcome, expressing pride in her players’ composure and confidence.
“It kept them super hyped, and I think that’s going prepare them for down the road here,” the coach said.
That road leads the Buckeyes to Ann Arbor, Michigan, to take on No. 3 Michigan in a decisive Big Ten weekend series. Friday’s game, the first of three, is set to begin at 6 p.m.