The Ohio State softball team entered the bottom of the fifth inning trailing 5-1 with hopes of a sweep against Michigan State growing dim. But the Buckeyes put up four runs that inning on the strength of a three-run home run from junior second baseman Emily Clark to tie the game at five.
Clark again played the role of hero again in the bottom of the seventh inning, lifting a sacrifice fly to right field that advanced senior pitcher Shelby McCombs to second base. A throwing error by the right fielder was enough to push McCombs home on the same play and win the game for Ohio State 6-5.
“It felt great, but I wouldn’t say that I won it,” McCombs said. “I think the whole team contributed in some way, shape or form.”
McCombs picked up her 13th win of the season, giving up one run in the game’s final four innings and striking out five batters. But the pitcher also excelled at the plate, finishing the afternoon with a game-best three hits in four at-bats while scoring the game-winning run.
“Her hitting has just taken off this year,” Ohio State head coach Kelly Kovach Schoenly said. “It’s something that she has put a lot of time and effort into, so I’m just really excited for her to be having such success at the plate as well.”
McCombs wasn’t the only Ohio State player having success at the plate in the final game of the series.
Though McCombs finished with the most hits, Clark’s bat proved to be the difference in Sunday’s affair with the second baseman finishing with a pair of hits, including the home run, with a run scored and four of Ohio State’s six total runs.
“I think that when Emily hit that home run, it just changed the momentum of everything,” McCombs said. “It gave us so much more energy to just get fired up and keep going.”
Junior shortstop Lilli Piper added an RBI single in the fifth inning. She score two of her team’s five runs.
“Sometimes you can screw them up by talking too much,” Kovach Schoenly said. “They know what they’re doing at this point in the season and have played this team for three straight days, so you’ve just got to get out of the way a little bit.”
The Buckeyes fell into an early deficit due to Michigan State’s four-run third inning. Two of those runs came from a triple by junior third baseman Kaitlyn Eveland.
The four-run inning, however, was not enough for this Spartan team to grab the win. Ohio State took care of business against Michigan State, sweeping the Spartans and outscoring them by a combined 22-9 margin.
Though Ohio State beat Michigan State in all three games, the pitching staff continued to struggle with command, issuing seven walks Sunday while hitting four batters with pitches. Ohio State pitchers issued a combined 13 walks during the three-game stretch.
Ohio State will be back in action at 6 p.m. Friday at Buckeye Field for the first of a three-game series against Maryland.