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Softball: No. 22 Ohio State finishes 3-1 in Big Ten/ACC Challenge

Niki Carver throws the ball to first in hopes of tagging out a Wright State runner. Credit:
Gretchen Rudolph | For The Lantern

The No. 22 Ohio State softball team came into the Big Ten/ ACC Challenge on Friday with plenty of momentum, having began the season with five wins in its opening weekend. However, its early five-game win streak ended Friday in the first game of the challenge after suffering a 5-4 loss to North Carolina State in Raleigh, North Carolina.

North Carolina State

The Buckeyes took an early lead on Saturday when junior infielder Lilli Piper his a two-run home run in the first inning. Ohio State maintained that lead for five innings.

North Carolina State responded to Piper’s home run with four runs in one at-bat in the bottom of the sixth inning. Freshman infielder Timberlyn Shurbutt smashed a grand slam to center field to pull ahead 4-2.

Ohio State freshman corner infielder Niki Carver hit a two-run home run to tie the game in the bottom of the seventh inning.  North Carolina State took the lead in the top of the eighth inning, however, when senior pinch runner Macauley Prickett scored on an obstruction of home call to give the Wolfpack the 5-4 lead.

Louisville

Ohio State bounced back from a disappointing loss in the first game of the weekend with a 6-5 win against Louisville on Saturday.

Junior catcher Emily Clark and senior infielder Ashley Goodwin each hit solo home runs in the first inning to give the Buckeyes an early 2-0 lead.

Louisville junior pitcher Megan Hensley hit a home run for two RBIs to tie the game at two. With the game tied at five and deep into extra innings, freshman utility Niki Carver laced a single up the middle to score senior Becca Gavin from second to win the game 6-5 for Ohio State.

North Carolina State

The Buckeyes picked up their second win of the day when they defeated North Carolina State 5-4 in their third extra-inning game in two days.

After four scoreless innings, North Carolina State got on the board with two runs in the top of the fifth coming from a run-scoring fielder’s choice and a sacrifice fly

The seventh inning brought even more action when North Carolina State freshman outfielder Sam Russ scored off freshman catcher Lily Bishop’s RBI to go up 3-0.

Ohio State responded with three runs in the next half-inning to send the game into extra innings once again. Freshman infielder Kallie Boren’s double to left field brought in sophomore outfielder Spencer Sansom and senior Becca Gavin, then Piper’s right-field single brought in sophomore Amy Balich to tie the game.

North Carolina State scored a run in the top of the eighth, but Ohio State answered with a two-run, walk-off home run by senior pitcher Shelby McCombs that brought in Clark to seal the win for the Buckeyes.

Louisville

Ohio State capped off the weekend by beating Louisville 4-0 on Sunday. This was its first shutout of the 2018 season.

The Buckeyes scored first in the top of the third inning when Clark hit a solo home run to center. Then with the bases loaded in the top of the sixth, Clark scored when Louisville third baseman Alison Szydlowski committed a throwing error.

In the top of the seventh, the Buckeyes extended their lead to 4-0 to give them a comfortable cushion with only half an inning left to play. Piper and Clark reached base and after a fielding error, a bunt by Goodwin and a single by McCombs, two runs went up on the board for Ohio State.

The Buckeyes will take on Virginia Tech, Wichita State and Texas in the Texas Invitational on Feb. 23 and 24.

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