SAN DIEGO, Calif. – The Ohio State softball team claimed two victories at the San Diego Classic II Tournament after defeating Harvard, 4-1, and San Diego, 4-2, Friday at the USD Softball Complex. With the win over Harvard, Linda Kalafatis claimed her 500th-career victory as head coach for the Buckeyes.
“I think today was a result of continued hard work after a good two weeks of practice,” said Kalafatis, who is in her 15th year at Ohio State. “I believe it was our pitchers leading the way. This was probably the best outing for both Kasie Kelly in the first game and Karisa Medrano in the second game. There’s no doubt in this sport, it starts and ends in the circle and today it did for us.”
Under Kalafatis, the Buckeyes have won 30 or more games in nine of her 14 seasons in Columbus and each of the last seven seasons. The 2007 Big Ten Coach of the Year, she has guided the squad to six of the program’s seven NCAA tournament appearances.
“More importantly, tonight was our sixth and seventh win of the season,” Kalafatis said. “It’s the kids that play and execute and win the games for us.”
The Buckeyes had stellar pitching performances from freshman Kasie Kelly in game one and senior Karisa Medrano in game two to help Ohio State improve to 7-14 overall in 2011.
In game one, Kelly claimed her second complete game of her career as the Buckeyes battled back for the victory with four late-inning runs against the Crimson. In seven innings of work, Kelly, a native of Wooster, Ohio, allowed just one earned run and five hits with four strikeouts to improve to 3-3 overall this year.
Offensively, Ohio State was led by sophomore Brittany Mills, who went 2-for-3 at the plate with an RBI triple, while freshman Melaina Saalfeld was 1-for-3 with a double and two RBI. Senior co-captain Dee Dee Hillman posted an RBI triple as well. Down 1-0, the Scarlet and Gray scored two runs in the fifth and two additional runs in the sixth to claim their first win of the tournament.
The first four innings of the game went scoreless as both pitchers were in the zone. In the top of the first, Harvard loaded the bases against Kelly, but the Buckeye rookie worked her way out of the jam after striking out Allison Scott looking. The strikeout for Kelly was the first of seven-consecutive Harvard batters she would send down in order.
Harvard junior pitcher Rachel Brown allowed just one hit in the first three innings as she retired eight-consecutive OSU batters to begin the game. Mills got the Buckeyes’ first hit in the bottom of the third with two outs, sending a line drive out to left field.
In the top of the fifth, Harvard posted the first run of the game after hitting two doubles to left center off Kelly. Shortstop Jane Alexander began the inning with a lead-off double. After Kelly claimed a groundout and strikeout, third baseman Kelly Lange knocked a 1-0 RBI double to the exact spot Alexander hit her double to give the Crimson the 1-0 lead.
However, the Buckeye bats came to life in the bottom of the inning as the squad answered with two runs off three hits against Brown. Rennie, a native of Wellington, Ohio, led things off with an infield single. With Rennie on first and two outs, Mills drove a deep fly ball over the head of Harvard center fielder Stephanie Regan for an RBI triple – her first triple of her carer.
The following batter, Hillman, hit a 0-2 pitch to short center field that got underneath the glove of Regan, allowing the OSU lead-off hitter to pick up her third triple of the season as Mills scored to make it 2-1.
After Kelly retired the side in the sixth, the Scarlet and Gray threatened to extend their lead in the bottom of the inning with the bases loaded and one out. Saalfeld then stepped up the plate and hit a two-RBI double to center field after the ball dropped from the glove of Regan as she tried to make a running catch on the play. Pinch runner Julia Pecina and senior Brittany Goodchild both scored on the big hit by Saalfeld for the two Buckeye insurance runs.
In game two, Medrano highlighted the nightcap against San Diego as the native of Albuquerque, N.M., threw a career-high 10 strikeouts en route to her second win of the season. The Buckeye senior was dominant throughout the majority of the game and had a no-hitter through 4.1 innings vs. the Toreros. The win for Medrano also was her second-career complete game performance as a Buckeye.
Offensively, the Buckeyes were led by sophomore Megan Coletta and freshman Evelyn Carrillo, who each had 2-for-4 performances with two RBI at the plate. Junior co-captain Alicia Herron was 2-for-4 with a triple and two runs.
Ohio State struck first against the host school in the opening inning. Coletta crushed a two-out RBI double to center field, plating first baseman Carrillo from first base to make it 1-0.
In the bottom of the inning, San Diego put two runners on, but Medrano stood strong and struck out three Toreros to end the threat.
In the top of the third, Coletta continued her hot bat at the plate with a two-out RBI double to left field, scoring Herron, who smashed a one-out triple to left center earlier in the inning.
In the top of the fifth, the Buckeyes extended their lead to 3-0 when Carrillo connected on a 1-2 pitch for a two-out RBI double as Hillman plated the run all the way from first base.
In the bottom of the inning, Medrano’s no-hitter was broken up with one out as Chelsea Kamai knocked a one-out double to right center. The following batter, Allyson Stalberger hit a shot to right center for an RBI triple to give the Toreros the their first run of the game to make it 3-1. Following the big triple, lead-off hitter Jessica Tieszen roped an RBI single up the middle to cut the Buckeye lead to 3-2. However, Medrano ended the USD rally with back-to-back pop-up outs.
In the sixth, Ohio State put two runners on base, but its rally was stopped after USD relief pitcher Cassidy Coleman got Mills to fly out to center field. In the bottom of the inning, San Diego threatened with a runner on second base when Medrano allowed a double to Jenny Lahitte. However, Medrano got the next batter to fly out to center field to end the sixth.
In the seventh, the Buckeyes added an insurance run when Carrillo hit a bomb off the wall to dead center field to plate Herron from first base for a one-out double. USD center fielder Dana Prelsnik almost made a great catch on the play, but contact with wall forced the ball out of her glove.
The Buckeyes are back in action Saturday on the campus of San Diego State University as the team plays Cal State Northridge at 11 a.m. PT and San Diego State at 2 p.m. PT at SDSU Softball Stadium.