TULSA, Okla. – The Ohio State softball team fell, 10-4, against Drake Saturday night at the Holiday Inn Tulsa-City Center Festival at the Hardesty Complex in Tulsa, Okla. Junior co-captain Alicia Herron had a big night at the plate, going 4-for-4 with a home run, double and four RBI, but it wasn’t enough for the Buckeyes (5-13, 0-0 Big Ten) in a game that lasted two hours and 25 minutes.
In the first inning, the Bulldogs posted two runs to take an early 2-0 lead off sophomore pitcher Melanie Nichols, who made her first start in the circle since Feb. 19. Lead-off hitter Jenna Delong scored the first run after an RBI sacrifice-fly to right field by second baseman Torey Craddock. Then with two outs and runners on first and third, Drake made it 2-0 after Amy Pierce crossed the plate before base runner Molly McClelland was tagged out in a run down by freshman first baseman Evelyn Carrillo.
In the opening at-bat for the Scarlet and Gray, senior co-captain Dee Dee Hillman and Herron both reached base safely to begin the bottom of the first, but the Buckeyes had no runs to show for it as pitcher Jordan Gronewold halted the OSU rally. With runners on first and third, Carrillo was caught stealing first for the second out before Gronewold got Leesa Gresham to strike out to end the inning.
In the top half of the second, play was delayed for 15 minutes after an issue with the pitching rubber in the circle. Following the delay, the Bulldogs extended their lead with four runs in the inning – all unearned with two outs. Nicole Randel led off the inning after reaching base on an OSU fielding error. With runners on first and second, DeLong singled to left field, scoring Randel, while Jordan Gronewold advanced to third on the throw. The next batter, Amy Pierce reached on a second OSU fielding error, allowing both Gronewold and DeLong to score. Torey Craddox then hit a two-out RBI double to left field to make it 6-0 – Hillman dove to try and make a great play, but the line drive landed just in front of her glove and skipped out to the left field fence.
In the bottom of the second, Herron cut the Buckeyes deficit in half with one swing of the bat. With Mills and Herron on second and third, the 2010 First Team All-Big Ten selection, Herron crushed a three-run home run off Gronewold down the left field line into the darkness of Tulsa’s campus – a tape-measure shot that was found later on the Golden Hurricanes’ track and field facility. The long ball was her third home run of the season.
In the third inning, senior Karisa Medrano replaced Nichols on the mound and denied the Bulldogs a run with two strike outs.
However, in the top of the fourth, the Bulldogs made it 8-3 after Gronewold led off the inning with a solo home run and Mollohan posted an RBI double off the left field wall off Medrano.
The Buckeyes made it 8-4 when Herron launched a deep fly ball to right center for a two-out RBI double, scoring freshman catcher Melissa Rennie, who led off the Buckeye offense with a double to left field.
But Drake continued the offensive attack with two more runs in the fifth. With runners on first and second, lead-off hitter Delong hit a single up the middle to score Randel from second base. Following an off-target throw from center field, West scored from first base by rule as the ball landed in the Bulldogs’ dugout to make it 10-4.
In the bottom of the inning, the Buckeyes loaded the bases with two outs, but Dordel was able to claim a strike out and end the OSU threat.
After freshman pitcher Audrey Plant claimed a one-two-three sixth, the Buckeyes started the bottom of inning with back-to-back singles by Hillman and Herron. However, the Bulldogs claimed a double play after DeLong made a shoe-string catch in short right field, while making the heads-up play to first base as Herron was caught between the bases and was out on the play.
Ohio State had a 14-9 advantage in hits against Drake, but left 11 players on base and committed four defensive errors.
Also having solid outings at the plate was junior Brittany Goodchild, who went 3-for-4 at the plate, while Hillman was 2-for-4 with a run vs. the Bulldogs.
Nichols receives the loss and falls to 0-2 overall in 2011, pitching 2.0 innings with six hits, two earned runs and one strikeout.
Ohio State concludes play at the Holiday Inn Tulsa-City Center Festival facing tournament host Tulsa at Noon (CT) Sunday at the Hardesty Complex.