The No. 25 Ohio State softball team (19-7) played in Columbus on Wednesday for the first time this season after a 25-game road stretch and gave the home fans something to cheer about, downing Wright State 14-1 in five innings.
“Words can’t explain how excited I was since I woke up this morning, knowing today was the home opener,” said sophomore first baseman Alex Vargas.
Wright State took a quick 1-0 lead in the first after a wild pitch from OSU junior pitcher Morgan Ray scored Macey Gunther, but it was all Buckeyes from that point, thanks to a huge first inning highlighted by a grand slam from senior right fielder Alex Bayne.
“We were ready to perform for (our fans),” Vargas said. “For us to keep our composure — especially on a big day like this — and perform, hit and score run after run after run, I think that just shows that we care to do well for our fans.”
The Buckeyes scored nine runs on five hits in the first, forcing two pitching changes in the inning. Sophomore second baseman Emily Clark hit a two-RBI double while senior third baseman Anna Kirk, sophomore shortstop Lilli Piper and junior first baseman Ashley Goodman each had an RBI, giving OSU a 9-1 lead.
“We were spraying the ball around the field, so it wasn’t like we were doing one thing,” said OSU coach Kelly Kovach Schoenly. “Emily Clark hitting the ball down the corner (to right field) and then (Alex) Bayne hitting a ball down left field — it’s just nice to see them hitting the ball where it’s pitched not trying to do too much and everyone chipping in.”
The Buckeye lead grew in the third as OSU pushed across five insurance runs. Piper hit a two-RBI single while Clark hit a three-run home run to left center field to extend OSU’s lead to 14-1 after three innings.
The big lead allowed the Buckeyes to empty their bench a bit in the later innings. OSU made six substitutions in the field, allowing some bench players to participate in the home opener, which meant just as much to the starters as it did the substitutes, Kovach Schoenly said.
“The starters work side by side on the field with them in practice every day so they know how hard they work and it means a lot to them to see their teammates have success,” she said. “I don’t think there’s one starter that wouldn’t hand their bat over to give someone else a chance to be a part of it.”
The Buckeyes return to Big Ten action on Friday when they begin a three-game home series with Rutgers (8-21) as they look to improve upon their 3-0 conference record.