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After 25 games away, SU finally returns home

first_imgThe Syracuse softball team held a three-run lead over Ohio State on Friday and was on the cusp of pulling off a major upset when Hallie Gibbs stepped up to the plate.With runners on second and third, Gibbs had the opportunity to blow the game open. The junior third baseman, battling an ankle injury, walked up to the plate knowing that it would be tough on that ankle if she had to move fast down the line.Luckily, she didn’t have to.‘I knew I was going to hit a home run,’ Gibbs said. ‘I hurt my ankle and didn’t want to run the bases. So I hit a home run.’The Orange (12-13) was 0-7 on the season against ranked teams going into Friday’s game against No. 17 Ohio St. With the three-run home run in the top of the fourth inning against the Buckeyes, the frustration of those losses turned into elation. Gibbs’ blast turned a 5-2 lead into a six-run advantage for the Orange, all but sealing the 11-3 victory in five innings — only the second against a ranked team in the past five seasons.AdvertisementThis is placeholder textThe victory was part of a 10-day Spring Break trip to Florida that highlighted the end of five weekends on the road for Syracuse to begin the season. The Orange hopes to continue the strong play it exhibited against OSU in its first two home games of the year Wednesday against Buffalo (8-16), at 2 p.m. at SU Softball Stadium. For SU, finally playing a game at home will be comforting. But this time, it will be slightly different, as it’s the first time since 2005 the squad opens its home slate with a win over a Top 25 team. ‘Everybody loves the first home game,’ SU head coach Leigh Ross said. ‘All of our fans and friends are here, our music, the girls’ batting songs. It’s nice to feel like, ‘Hey, I can sleep in my own bed, drive up to the field and get there for a game.”The rest of SU’s schedule does not appear to be as daunting as the first part. But the Orange realizes it still needs to be on guard. Syracuse outplayed one of the best teams in the country last weekend, but Ross said it will be even harder to maintain that level of play against some of the northeast teams that are not as good.‘I think that with some of the teams that we’ll be facing now, the games will be a little bit slower,’ Ross said. ‘All of the top 20 teams that we’ve played, you see a lot faster games from them. It’s going to be a challenge for us to keep playing at that level.’The Orange went into the game against Ohio St. needing to prove it could finish off a team of the Buckeyes’ caliber. Syracuse had held leads in games against three other ranked opponents on the season, but it had not been able to come away with a victory.And ultimately, the home run from Gibbs put the game away. Gibbs is one of two starting juniors on a team with no senior position players. Before Gibbs’ home run, the Orange was in a similar position to where it was against other ranked teams this season. Syracuse led Texas 4-0 in the third inning in a game at the end of February but lost 5-4.‘We were fed up of getting there but not finishing it,’ said sophomore pitcher Jenna Caira, who threw a one-hitter with seven strikeouts in the win. ‘(Ohio State) had a little bit of trouble in the first two innings, and Coach was like, ‘Just pounce on them. Just go get them and hit them, knock them down.’ We kind of took that literally and tried to jump on them as much as possible.’No one jumped on Ohio State more than Gibbs, who delivered the biggest blow of the game with that home run. It was the first home run of the season for the third baseman, but she leads the Orange with 17 RBIs on the year.‘(The home run) kind of got the game going a little quicker,’ Caira said, ‘and the bats were contagious.’[email protected] Comments Published on March 23, 2010 at 12:00 pm Contact Mark: [email protected] | @mark_cooperjrcenter_img Facebook Twitter Google+last_img read more