The Big Ten title hopes for the Ohio State softball team were ripped away by Northwestern University on Friday. No. 6 seed OSU threatened to score several times in the final innings but ended up being eliminated from contention, losing 3-1 to the No. 3 seed Wildcats.
The Wildcats were led by a stout defense and solid pitching, and the Buckeyes offense struggled to produce runs, while also giving up too many runs in the first frame of the game.
Things got off to a rough start for OSU when the Wildcats scored three runs on three hits in the bottom of the first. After a dominating, seven-inning outing against Penn State on Thursday, OSU junior pitcher Lena Springer was pulled after allowing the trio of runs on Friday.
Her replacement, junior pitcher Shelby Hursh, held the Wildcats to the three runs they scored in the first, along with striking out six. However, the strong showing out of the Tipton, Indiana, native was not enough to give OSU the win.
A few highlight plays by the Buckeyes were potential sparks to fuel a comeback, but the Scarlet and Gray ultimately fell short of advancing in the tournament.
OSU redshirt senior shortstop Maddy McIntyre made a difficult play to end the third, reaching far behind her head while racing toward the outfield to catch a line drive.
After a pinch-hit single by freshman outfielder Bri Betschel in the top of the fifth, a double play quickly ousted any chance of OSU scoring in the fifth.
A typically high-powered lineup for the Buckeyes was shut down by the combination of senior pitchers Amy Letourneau and Kristen Wood from Northwestern.
Out of the five hits picked up by OSU, only one was for extra bases: A double by freshman utility player Emily Clark drove in senior outfielder Cammi Prantl for the only run of the game for the Scarlet and Gray.
The Buckeyes will now have to wait and see their fate for the NCAA tournament. The team is projected to be within the top 64, but the loss to Northwestern on Friday could hurt OSU’s chances.