Awards, Buckeyes, college, ohio state, OSU, sports

Ohio State’s Lilli Piper Earns All American Status In Softball

lilli2

Ohio State’s Star shortstop before the Big 10 Tournament

Ohio State’s Lilli Piper steps into the batter’s box against Michigan State in the Big 10 Softball tournament semi-final game. The sophomore from Norton Ohio, just southwest of Akron, falls behind in the count. As the Spartan pitcher serves up what she hopes is the final strike Lilli steps up into the pitch and puts it out of the park over the left-center field fence for a two-run homer and a big Ohio State lead.

“You can’t catch Lilli with the changeup, ” smiles the Buckeyes hitting coach Jenna Hall.  “You just can’t.”

This was just one of the many highlights of the young shortstop’s career thus far as a Buckeye earning her third team All-America honors from the National Fastpitch Coaches Association (NFCA). Lilli is the 12th Buckeye in the softball program’s history to earn the prestigious honor.

I’m so excited for Lilli to be recognized for her phenomenal year,” said head coach Kelly Kovach Schoenly. “Her stats were clearly worthy, but what I loved about Lilli this year was that she brought passion, energy and a love for the game that was contagious to our team. This is a fitting honor for a consistent, relentless competitor.”

Lilli emerged this season as one of the most dangerous hitters in the Big Ten. In 48 regular season games, she was third in the league in batting (.420) with 49 RBI, 44 runs scored, 16 home runs and a .784 slugging percentage. While stats from conference tournament and regional games are not included in the All-American voting, she continued her torrid pace in the postseason, hitting .438 with a pair of two-run home runs – including one in the Big Ten Tournament semifinals and another in the NCAA Tournament – to go along with a .813 slugging percentage. Her overall numbers included a .421 average, 18 home runs, 53 RBI, 47 runs scored, .787 slugging percentage and .436 on-base percentage.

A transfer from Akron where she played both basketball and softball for the Zips, Lilli set a program record for home runs by a newcomer and was just one shy of tying the single-season mark of 19 set by Sam Marder (2009) and Alex Bayne (2016). She had a team-high 24 multi-hit games and 15 multi-RBI games. Against RPI Top-75 teams (21 regular season games), she hit .429 with 23 RBI, eight home runs and 17 runs scored. Among the highlights was a career-high six RBI effort against Central Florida and a go-ahead home run in the seventh inning to clinch a series win at Illinois.

In 23 Big Ten games, Lilli batted .430 and slugged a conference-best 10 home runs while driving in 22 runs and scoring 24 times. Her overall numbers ranked among the top 10 in seven different offensive categories as she was a unanimous first team all-conference selection and first team all-region choice. In Ohio State’s record book, her .421 average is fourth-best in a single season, 53 RBI rank fifth and 75 hits and 18 home runs are tied for second most.

With Lilli’s help, Ohio State went 35-18, 15-8 in the Big Ten and earned its second consecutive at-large bid to the NCAA Tournament. The 35 overall wins and 15 in the Big Ten were both the most since 2010. After finishing third in the conference standings during the regular season, Ohio State advanced to the Big Ten Tournament championship game for the first time in 10 years. Lilli was one of nine All-America choices from Big Ten programs, the third most of any conference.

Lilli is the daughter of Gary and Ronda Piper and her Aunt Kay Piper was a two-sport athlete (softball and volleyball) at Akron from 1982-85.

Batting

 

Standard
Buckeyes, OSU, sports

BUCKEYES EARN AT-LARGE BID TO 2017 NCAA SOFTBALL TOURNAMENT

DSC_8526

COLUMBUS, Ohio – A 35-win season and Big Ten Tournament finals appearance has earned the Ohio State softball team an at-large bid to the 2017 NCAA Tournament. The Buckeyes were one of 32 teams to secure an at-large selection when the 64-team field was announced live on ESPN2 Sunday night.

Ohio State (35-16) is headed to the Knoxville Regional where it is the No. 2 seed and will face No. 3 seed USC Upstate (44-11) on Friday at 4:30 p.m. live on ESPN3. The other two teams in the regional are No. 1 seeded and host Tennessee (44-10) and fourth-seeded Big South champion Longwood (28-27). The Vols and Lancers face each other on Friday at 7 p.m.

This will mark Ohio State’s ninth NCAA Tournament appearance and second in a row. For Kelly Kovach Schoenly, it will be her fourth as a head coach – she took Miami to the NCAA Tournament in 2009 and 2012 as well as the Buckeyes in 2016.

“We’re thrilled to be headed back to the NCAA Tournament,” said head coach Kovach Schoenly. “We tested this team against a very difficult schedule and they’ve always found a way to rise to the occasion. It’s gratifying to be able to continue our season, especially for the seniors and leaders who have pushed us the entire year.”

The Buckeyes earned their at-large bid of the strength of a regular season that saw them win 13 games against RPI Top 100 teams and finish 15-8 overall in Big Ten play, good for a third-place finish. At this past weekend’s Big Ten Tournament, Ohio State knocked off Wisconsin and Michigan State in making its first championship game appearance since 2007. Other highlights of the 2017 campaign include:
• The Buckeyes played 18 games against teams that earned a spot in the 2017 tournament.
• Ohio State was ranked or receiving votes in the ESPN.com/USA Collegiate Softball Top 25 poll for every week during the regular season.
• The Buckeyes were 18-7 against a non-conference schedule that featured 11 games against teams from Power 5 conferences.
• Ohio State’s non-conference RPI was ranked No. 24 nationally, third highest in the Big Ten, and included 11 games against programs that were in last year’s NCAA Tournament.
• The Buckeyes compiled 12 true road win and a total of 25 victories at either road or neutral sites.
• Ohio State played its first 25 games away from home, going 18-7 in that stretch.
• The Buckeyes’ 35 wins to this point in the season are the most since 2010.

Statistically, the Scarlet and Gray are led by sophomore Lilli Piper, who is batting .424 this year with 17 home runs, 51 RBI, 46 runs scored and a .785 slugging percentage. The first team All-Big Ten selection was a member of the Big Ten’s All-Tournament Team after hitting a two-run home run in the first inning of Saturday’s semifinal versus Michigan State. Classmate Emily Clark was also an all-tournament selection and is hitting .338 this year with nine home runs, 44 RBI, and 29 runs scored.

In the circle, the Buckeyes boasted the Big Ten’s best overall ERA in 2017 at 2.46. Senior Shelby Hursh leads the way at 15-5 with a 2.33 ERA over 129.0 innings and 115 strikeouts. All four pitchers who have seen at least 60 innings of action have an ERA of under 2.80.

KNOXVILLE REGIONAL SCHEDULE
Friday, May 19
Game 1: Ohio State vs. USC Upstate | 4:30 p.m. | ESPN3/WatchESPN
Game 2: Tennessee vs. Longwood | 7 p.m. | ESPN2

Saturday, May 20
Game 3: G1 Winner vs. G2 Winner | 12 p.m.
Game 4: G1 Loser vs. G2 Loser | 2:30 p.m.
Game 5: G3 Loser vs. G4 Winner | 5 p.m.

Sunday, May 21
Game 6: G3 Winner vs. G5 Winner | 12 p.m.
Game 7: G6 Winner vs. G6 Loser (If necessary) | 2:30 p.m.

Standard