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Feb. 28, 2004

Box Score |  Notes

Columbus, Ga. – Freshman Megan Schwab’s RBI single in the bottom of the seventh sent the Ohio State softball team past Florida Atlantic, 4-3, Saturday afternoon at the NFCA Leadoff Classic in Columbus, Ga. The win snaps a two-game losing skid for the Buckeyes, who will enter the bracketed tournament portion of the Classic Saturday evening.

Ohio State (4-4) got back-to-back solo homeruns from junior Karisa Evans (Franklin, Ohio/Franklin) and freshman Jamee Juarez (La Puente, Calif./Wilson) to lead off the fourth inning, which gave the Buckeyes a 2-1 lead. Florida Atlantic (12-8) tied the game at 2-2 in the top of the fifth inning, but Schwab (Glendale, Ariz./Sunrise Mountain) gave the lead back to Ohio State at 3-2 with an RBI single in the bottom of the fifth. Her hit scored junior Meghan Rowlands (Hilliard, Ohio/Bishop Ready), who had walked and stole second.

Juarez, who collected six strikeouts and allowed just five hits in the contest, took the one-run lead into the seventh inning but saw Florida Atlantic rally with a two-out run to tie the game at 3-3.

Junior Jennifer Johnson (La Mirada, Calif./La Mirada) led off the bottom of the seventh with a single to centerfield to begin Ohio State’s rally. Pinch runner Nicole Lancaster (So., Magnolia, Ohio/Sandy Valley) entered the game and advanced to second on a sacrifice bunt with two strikes by Rowlands. Lancaster then scored on Schwab’s second RBI single of the day – a hard grounder up the middle just to the right of the second baseman. “We needed this win,” Linda Kalafatis, head coach, said. “I told the girls we needed to show good toughness. That was their challenge today. When Florida Atlantic scored that run in the top of the seventh, it could have been deflating, but we came right back out and took it back.”

Ohio State had been shutout in its first two games at the Classic, but the homeruns by Evans and Juarez gave the Buckeyes the momentum that would carry them the rest of the game.

“We had a few fundamental errors yesterday and we started slow again today, but we knew we had to pick it up and play tougher,” Evans, who went 3-for-3 in the game, said. “It (her homerun) felt good to get us on the scoreboard this weekend, and then Jamee’s homerun right after me made us feel like we had the edge. Even when Florida Atlantic scored in the top of the seventh, it didn’t seem like a big deal because we knew we could come back.”

The win marked the second time this season Ohio State has won in their final at-bat.

“J.J.’s (Johnson) ability to lead us off (in the seventh) with a hit was huge and Meghan’s (Rowlands) ability to get down the bunt with two strikes set everything up,” Kalafatis said. “And then Schwab got that clutch hit again to win it. Karisa (Evans) and Jamee (Juarez) came up big with their homers earlier to really spark us.”

The game-winning RBI was the second of the season for Schwab, who delivered a three-run homer in the top of the seventh inning to send the Buckeyes past No. 20 Oregon, 3-1, Feb. 14 in Phoenix, Ariz.

Ohio State and the other 23 teams in the Classic will now enter bracket play, which begins Saturday at 5 p.m. The Buckeyes’ bracket and opponent will be announced later Saturday afternoon.