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Senior Megan Miller gets the win, pitching 5.2 innings

CATHEDRAL CITY, Calif. – After trailing Oregon State, 7-2, through six innings, the No. 16/17 Ohio State softball team recorded five runs in the top of the seventh, thanks to a grand slam from sophomore Alicia Herron, to tie the game and won an 8-7 decision in the eighth as senior Leah Ledford notched an RBI single Saturday at the 2010 Cathedral City Classic.

In storybook fashion, the Buckeyes loaded the bases with two outs and Herron up at-bat. After going 0-3 at the plate, the Cypress, Calif., native pushed everything out of her mind and on a full count, Herron knocked the ball over the left centerfield fence to knot things up at 7-all. Prior to the grand slam, Rachael Shepherd hit an RBI single to bring in Karisa Medrano from second for the five-run inning.

“I was so focused at the plate and my heart was pounding,” Herron, who was welcomed to home plate by a circle of Buckeyes, said. “I felt it in the swing and there was no celebration run around the bases – I was so excited I sprinted.”

The Buckeyes improve to 8-5 on the year while the Beavers drop to 4-9.

Before the big movement in the seventh, Ohio State had been limited to just two runs and four hits by Oregon State pitcher Paige Hall who threw a complete game for the Beavers.

 “This was a great showing for us,” Linda Kalafatis, Ohio State head coach, said. “We were down by a lot of runs and the coaches were saying let’s just get something on the board and one of the kids said, ‘We can win this.’

“Megan Miller came in and threw like a senior and that is what we needed from her. We are a little banged up but we have a lot of kids playing on a lot of adrenaline and heart.”

Freshman pitcher Melanie Nichols started the game for the Buckeyes, allowing six runs off of five hits in the first 2.1 innings before Miller came in. The senior took charge right away and allowed just four hits and one run. She fanned three batters, including a three-pitch strike out in the bottom of the fifth.

Sophomore outfielder Vanessa Spears scored Ohio State first and last runs in the game. After walking in the top of the fourth, Spears sprinted around the bases to score on a Whitney Cooper RBI double to deep centerfield. In the sixth, senior designated player Courtney Pruner hit a leadoff solo homerun to left center to cut the Beaver lead to five. The homer, Pruner’s 29th in her career, puts the Akron, Ohio, native in a tie for third-place on the Ohio State all-time record list.

In extra inning, Spears was put onto second base as the game used the international tiebreaker rule. Cooper laid down a sacrifice bunt to move the runner over and Ledford, a native of West Chester, Ohio, hit an RBI single to centerfield for the eventual gamewinner. In quick fashion, Miller and the Buckeye defense closed out the bottom of the eighth with a pop out and two infield putouts.

Game Notes:
– Alicia Herron’s grand slam was the first since Courtney Pruner hit one against Georgia May 22, 2009 in the NCAA Super Regional. She has 16 home runs in her career to hold seventh place in the all-time record book.
– Courtney Pruner went 2-3 at the plate, and was hit by a pitch to load the bases for Herron, with a run and an RBI. With a home run tonight, Pruner moves into a tie for third place on the all-time record list with 29 homers.
– Leah Ledford went 2-4 at the plate, knocking in the gamewinning RBI.
– Rachael Shepherd went 2-3 with an RBI in her first start of 2010 at catcher.

Game One: Ohio State 0, Tennessee 3

CATHEDRAL CITY, Calif. – In its first game of the day at the 2010 Cathedral City Classic, Ohio State dropped a 3-0 decision to No. 22 Tennessee (8-4) Saturday afternoon in Palm Springs, Calif.

The Lady Vols jumped ahead early with a three-run homer in the first and that would be all the scoring in the game. The Buckeye defense held Tennessee scoreless for the next five innings, facing just three batters in the second and third and four in the fourth and fifth.

The Buckeyes started to put things together on offense in the top of the fifth as sophomore Vanessa Spears singled and advanced to second on a passed ball. Next up, senior catcher Sam Marder moved Spears to third on a single of her own. With Katie Simonton pinch running for Marder, Herron hit a sacrifice fly to move the runners to second and third but with two outs already on the board, Ohio State was unable to bring them in.

Redshirt junior pitcher Lindsay Bodeker took the loss, throwing a complete game and allowing just four hits with three strikeouts.