Ohio State’s softball team began the NCAA tournament oozing confidence after finishing as the runner-up in the Big Ten tournament. But for the second year in a row, its season ended early as the team couldn’t escape the Knoxville Regional.
On Friday, OSU (35-18) took on South Carolina-Upstate (45-11), the Atlantic Sun Conference regular-season and tournament champion. After falling behind 2-0, the Buckeyes made a late run as sophomore infielder Lilli Piper hit a two-run home run to tie the game and sophomore second baseman Emily Clark hit a shot over the fence of her own to give OSU a 3-2 lead.
The one-run advantage wasn’t enough though, as the Spartans responded with a five-run inning in the final frame, capitalizing on a series of defensive miscues committed by the Buckeyes. OSU committed three fielding errors and two directly led to runs for their opposition. Sophomore pitcher Morgan Ray picked up her fifth loss of the season, though three of the five runs she allowed were unearned.
With the loss to Upstate, OSU needed to win its next three games to advance past the regional. The Buckeyes were back in action on Saturday, this time taking on Longwood (29-28), a team that lost 5-0 to No. 8 Tennessee Friday afternoon.
The Lancers took the first lead of the game in the bottom of the fourth inning when junior outfielder Glenn Walters rapped a double, scoring a run. The next inning, two Longwood players – sophomore catcher Kaylynn Batten and sophomore center fielder Jordan Clark– smacked RBI doubles to give Longwood a 3-0 lead.
Unlike in Friday’s game, OSU was unable to rally to take the lead at any point. The Buckeyes scored a single run in the final frame when redshirt sophomore first baseman Alex Vargas hit a double, knocking in a run with two outs. But OSU couldn’t muster any more offense as junior catcher Becca Gavin flew out to end the game and the team’s season.