It was rally time for the Buckeyes this weekend. The Ohio State softball team (29-12-1, 11-5-1) came back from a Friday loss to take the final two games in its home series with Purdue (26-22, 7-10), thanks to a late four-run inning in Sunday’s game.
Sunday’s finale broke a Buckeye Field attendance record when 1,627 fans filled the stands to support their Buckeyes. OSU coach Kelly Kovach Schoenly said she was thrilled at the mood the crowd set for her team.
“It was so fun, and they were spontaneously starting cheers,” Schoenly said. “It was just great softball energy.”
Sophomores Ashley Goodwin and Taylor White threatened the Boilermakers’ defense throughout the weekend. Goodwin, who spent the weekend at first base, went 6-for-9, while White went 4-for-4 with two RBIs on Sunday.
Junior Shelby Hursh pitched 12 innings and struck out 14 while earning the save in Saturday afternoon’s contest, and Purdue senior Lilly Fecho was a difficult opponent for the Buckeyes throughout the three games.
“She’s one of the best in the country,” Schoenly said of Fecho. “But I think it shows that when you see the same kid for three days, you can hit them.”
The Buckeyes dropped the weekend opener in a windy 3-0 matchup on Friday. For the Boilermakers, a two-run homer with two outs made the difference, helping them secure their lead early on in the first inning.
Only three OSU batters had hits throughout the seven innings, as the lineup was thwarted by Fecho. The left-hander, who boasted a 1.97 ERA entering Friday’s game, struck out five in the shutout to nab her 17th win of the season.
In the circle for OSU, Hursh continued to be the team’s go-to pitcher, striking out five of her own and only walking one. Hursh threw five innings before freshman Morgan Ray took over on the mound to keep the Boilermakers at three runs.
After Purdue freshman Lauren Stewart’s quick home run, the Buckeyes left two runners in scoring position in the bottom of the opening inning. Again in the second, two OSU runners were left stranded after Goodwin’s outfield single.
Neither team brought a run across the plate in the second, third or fourth innings, but Purdue lengthened its lead in the top of the fifth on a sacrifice fly from freshman Emily Kenny. Still, the Buckeyes remained uninspired and went down in order in the fifth and sixth innings, giving them a chance to rally in the bottom of the final inning.
Junior Anna Kirk and Goodwin produced consecutive singles in the seventh inning but were left stranded at second and third to cut OSU’s hopes at another weekend sweep short.
The sun was out on Saturday as OSU routed Purdue in the Big Ten Saturday contest with a close 3-2 outcome.
White remained at the center of controversy in multiple calls throughout the game, including a close tag after she stole third in the third inning and a shallow fly ball, which was caught by senior Mary Gooding but called a dropped ball, in the following inning.
“Taylor has been just awesome on the bases, and I wanted her out there causing the havoc she has been,” Schoenly said.
In another odd play, junior Lena Springer’s outing in the circle was cut short after she took a sharp line drive to her left wrist.
Springer started the game with a six-pitch first inning to shut the first three Purdue batters down. After senior Cammi Prantl kept the first inning alive with an outfield single, freshman Emily Clark stepped up to the plate and sent a ball to right center off the glove of sophomore Maya Hughes to put the Buckeyes on the board first.
In the top of the third, miscommunication between sophomore Becca Gavin and Kirk on a bunt left the first two batters for the Boilermakers on base. A sliding catch by Prantl to grab a shallow pop in left field halted the runners, but a single through the gap by junior Kristen Hoppman tied the game at one. Kenny’s line drive drove in another unearned run to send Purdue on top.
White got aboard in the bottom of the inning on a single, and redshirt junior Alex Bayne was hit by a pitch. White stole third and was deemed safe, a call that was contested by Purdue coach Kim Schuette. The umpires defended their call, and White stole home minutes later to tie the game back up.
Schoenly decided to move batters around this weekend, in a strategy that worked around each batter’s strengths. White led off for the Buckeyes, while redshirt senior shortstop Maddy McIntyre filled in the fifth spot where she could bring more runs in.
“They did exactly what they were put in their spots to do, and it all played out the way we wanted it to,” she said.
Goodwin led off the Buckeyes’ fourth inning with a solo blast to center field, which prompted Fecho to relieve sophomore Gina Snyder on the mound. This single run was all OSU could manage in the inning, and Hursh took over in the top of the fifth to try and finish the Boilermakers.
Gavin zipped a throw to Kirk in the top of the sixth to catch Stewart stealing from second to leave the Buckeyes ahead as “Hang On Sloopy” played over the loudspeakers. In the bottom of the inning, Goodwin recorded her third hit of the day, but Purdue’s offense turned a double play on Kirk’s bunt to clear the bases.
Hursh finished off her Saturday outing in the seventh inning with two more strikeouts and earned the save, while Duvall took home the win.
To the delight of a packed stadium, the Buckeyes rallied late in the seventh to score four runs and take the series win by way of a 5-4 victory. McIntyre provided the game-ending hit with a single to right.
In the top of the fourth inning, Purdue grabbed an early lead thanks to a pair of two-out walks and a passed ball to bring runners into scoring position. Stewart then stepped up to the plate and sent a long ball off the left-field wall to push the Boilermakers ahead by two.
Clark hit a ball that slammed off the top of the center field wall in the bottom of the fourth to record a leadoff triple, but she was left stranded after the three following batters all grounded out.
In the following inning, Gavin led off with a big hit of her own, and pinch hitter Bri Betschel brought her to third base on a sacrifice bunt. White continued the hit streak with an RBI single, but two flyouts to center field left OSU still trailing.
The Boilermakers lengthened their lead in the top of the sixth when Kenny hit a solo home run with two outs. Hursh continued to struggle to get the last out, and Stewart’s RBI triple sent her back to the bullpen with six strikeouts on the day. Freshman Morgan Ray stepped into the circle to record the third out and leave Stewart stranded.
Kirk leapt to catch a high line drive by Purdue freshman Lexi Huffman to take the Buckeyes into the bottom of the seventh. Gavin and Betschel both got aboard on no-out errors, and White bounced a single through the gap to record her second RBI of the day. Bayne stepped up and hit a line drive down the third base line to bring in Betschel.
Fecho walked Clark, which brought up McIntyre, who roped a walk-off single to right field to give OSU the weekend win in exciting fashion.
The Buckeyes are next scheduled to head to Indiana to take on the Hoosiers in another conference series next weekend. The first game of the series is slated to begin at 6 p.m. on Friday.