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Cooper, Marder homer; Bodeker records 10 strikeouts

COLUMBUS, Ohio – On a sunny, clear day in DeLand, Fla., the No. 14 Ohio State softball team (4-2) fought hard against No. 8/9 Alabama (4-2) Friday afternoon but was on the losing side of a 5-3 decision at Patricia Wilson Field in the team’s first game at the Hatter Invitational.

“That was a tough game but I thought we matched-up against them and played hard,” Linda Kalafatis said. “Our kids came out with great energy. We just need to be able to deliver in the clutch. We left a few on base and in the end Alabama was able to get that final clutch hit.”

The Buckeyes jumped ahead first as senior captain Whitney Cooper lead off the second inning with a long ball over the left-field fence. The Buckeyes threatened again, putting runners on first and second, but Alabama starting pitcher Kelsi Dunne escaped the inning allowing just one hit and one run.

In the bottom of the fourth, the Crimson Tide posted two runs to take a 2-1 lead. Charlotte Morgan hit a two-run homer after Cassie Reilly-Boccia doubled to right center. Ohio State starting pitcher Lindsay Bodeker rallied back, striking out the final two batters of the inning.

The Buckeyes quickly answered as senior captain Sam Marder knocked in a two-run homer of her own after junior Dee Dee Hillman slapped a leadoff bunt down the third-base line to get on base. Again holding a one-run lead, the Scarlet and Gray continued to pressure the Tide, putting runners on first and second but would be forced to leave them there. Bodeker would do her part in the bottom of the fourth, striking out the side in order.

With bases loaded in the bottom of the sixth, freshman pitcher Melanie Nichols was brought in for relief, entering the inning with two outs on the board. Pushing her first batter to a full count, Jazlyn Lunceford doubled to left center, emptying the bases and putting Alabama up 5-3. Nichols then closed out the sixth with a strikeout.  

“It was a tough spot for a freshman to come into,” Kalafatis said. “But like I told Mel after the game, we wouldn’t put her in there if we didn’t believe in her ability.”

Cooper, who went 2-4 on the day, tried to get things started for the Buckeyes in the seventh with a single to left center but the Tide’s defense would curtail the Ohio State offense to hang on for the win.

Bodeker moves to 1-2 on the season despite recording a season-high 10 strikeouts in 5.4 innings. In the game, Ohio State posted seven hits while Alabama had six. Marder was walked twice, including one intentional, for 10 bases on balls this season and a .727 on base percentage.

The Buckeyes and Tide are now tied in the all-time series, 2-2, and will meet again at 11 a.m. Saturday.

The day is not over for Ohio State as it will face Hatter Invitational host Stetson at 6:30 p.m. Friday night. Ohio State owns a 3-1 lead over the Hatters in the all-time series.

Game Notes:
– Starting pitcher Lindsay Bodeker threw a season-high 10 strikeouts.
– Senior captain Sam Marder hit her team-leading fifth home run, a two-run shot.
– Senior captain Whitney Cooper hit her first homer of the season in the top of the second to put Ohio State on the board.