Ohio State rides into the weekend on a wave of success, having won eight straight and boasting an overall record of 32-14 (15-5 Big Ten).
Hot bats and consistent pitching have allowed the Buckeyes to outscore opponents 58-19 during the stretch. This includes a three-game sweep of Illinois, with freshman outfielder Kaitlyn Coffman hitting a run-rule securing two-run home run Friday and senior second baseman Emily Clark hitting a grand slam Saturday.
The Buckeyes will travel to Des Moines, Iowa this weekend for a three-game set against the Hawkeyes (18-29, 4-16 Big Ten). They will hope to stay hot during their final series before the Big Ten tournament.
Iowa has been limping to the finish line in 2019, coming into the matchup with four straight losses, having been outscored 27-3 by UNI and Minnesota.
From March 23 to April 13, the Hawkeyes have lost 11 straight games.
If Iowa does challenge the Buckeyes, it will likely come from the bat of junior first baseman DoniRae Mayhew. She leads the team with a .274 batting average, five home runs and a .460 slugging percentage. Only one other hitter slugs above .360, with a meager .305 team slugging percentage compared to Ohio State’s .488 percentage.
Ohio State has seven hitters with a batting average higher than Mayhew’s .274 average, further proof of Ohio State’s hitting dominance on paper in the matchup.
This includes senior shortstop Lilli Piper, whose .423 average ranks No. 3 in the Big Ten. She went 3-for-5 with a home run, two RBI and seven runs scored in the series against Illinois.
On the mound, the Hawkeyes’ ace is junior Allison Doocy, who posts a 2.44 ERA. She’s pitched 61 percent of the squad’s total innings this season.
The Buckeyes counter with three pitchers underneath that ERA, primarily senior No. 1 starter Morgan Ray. Ray has held a 2.08 ERA through 158.1 innings on the year, winning 16 games and saving three more.
Ohio State’s staff ERA of 2.19 stacks up favorably against Iowa’s 3.82.
The Buckeyes and Hawkeyes clash first at 5:30 p.m. Friday, before day games at 1 p.m. and noon Saturday and Sunday, respectively.