Ohio State shortstop Lilli Piper steps out of the batter’s box. She takes a couple practice swings and steps back in. She has fallen behind in the count to Iowa’s ace pitcher Allison Doocy. Piper stares down the young Doocy as if daring her to throw her any pitch she wants because Piper has no fear. Doocy throws a hard drop ball and Piper swings and as soon as the bat connects with the ball you know it’s out of the park. The yellow sphere flies over the left-center wall giving the Buckeyes an early lead in the BIg 10 tournament and Piper her 20th home run for the season, breaking the Ohio State single-season home run record!
The Junior from Norton, Ohio leads Ohio State in nearly every offensive category and makes it look easy at times. She is tied for 6th in the NCAA in home runs and has done it in 48 games, far fewer games than anyone listed above her. In fact, she has more home runs herself than over 70 teams in college softball do! She is in the top 10 with a .421 batting average and is 8th with a .921 slugging percentage. Unlike most power hitters she only has 8 strikeouts on the season.
Her number of walks has more than tripled since her sophomore season as teams try to pitch around her but to no avail as they must face a bevy of great Buckeye batters. She is feared at the plate although respected by her opponents and whenever a pitcher tries to take her on they lose and she makes them regret it in a big way. Many times you can hear an angry coach from the opposing team asking their pitcher how they could have served up such a great pitch to the Buckeyes best player. But no matter if it’s a changeup, a fastball, the curve, the rise, or the drop, Piper can hit it and will make you pay.
Piper has been playing softball most of her life and seems to excel at anything she is determined to do. She starred on the basketball court at Walsh Jesuit High School where she was an honorable mention All-Ohio in 2013-14, posting averages of 14.2 points, 9.0 rebounds and 3.2 assists per game. And in softball, she was the 2014 Cleveland.com Softball Player of the Year after hitting .615 with 64 hits, 42 RBI, and 14 home runs.
But this season tragedy struck as the man she admired and respected more than anything, her grandfather George Piper, passed away. It was a really hard time for her as they were very close and the last couple of years he had been through so much and she hadn’t been able to see him much, what with classes and traveling with the team so much. But Piper has the support of her off the field family and her Buckeye family to help her through such a tragic time in a young woman’s life.
Piper is always loose in the dugout and very easy going, smiling, laughing, and joking and enjoying the game she loves so much. But she puts in a lot of time with practices and it’s paid off. In 2017 she racked up the honors as she was named NFCA Third Team All-American, Unanimous First Team All-Big Ten, Big Ten All-Tournament Team, and NFCA First Team All-Region just to name a few. And this season she has been named First-team NFCA All-Region, First Team All-Big Ten, and has been named as a Top 25 finalist for USA Softball Collegiate Player of the Year.
But it’s far from over as she and her Buckeyes are playing in the NCAA regionals for the third year in a row. They defeated South Florida 3-1 in the first game of the Gainesville Florida Regional, and they’re looking to finish strong and get to a Super Regional. And if they do Piper will be guiding the way with her big bat and strong defensive rocket arm.
Lillip Piper stares down her opponents