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Freshman Melanie Nichols secures seventh win, strikeouts four

TAMPA, Fla. – Senior catcher Sam Marder hit her 54th career home run in the first inning to give the No. 22 Ohio State softball team a 1-0 victory over South Florida Tuesday at the USF Softball Stadium in Tampa, Fla.

The Buckeyes improve to 15-9 and are on a two-game winning streak while the Bulls fall to (13-14). Ohio State is 8-1 in 2010 when scoring in the first inning.

Batting third in the lineup with two outs already in the books, Marder sailed a ball down the left field line, her 11th homer this season, for the gamewinning run. With the RBI, the Calabasas, Calif., native has 165 in her career – just one shy of tying the OSU program record. Marder already owns the home run record, in addition to the walks record (192).

Overall, the game was a defensive battle as Ohio State recorded three hits and USF had five. Freshman pitcher Melanie Nichols earns the win, her seventh this season, striking out four while walking just one batter. The Buckeye lineup was up against freshman pitcher Lindsey Richardson (5-3) who has thrown 75 strikeouts in 53 innings pitched.

The Bulls recorded its first hit in the second and put runners on second and first with an error and a walk. With two outs, sophomore Alicia Herron made an unassisted play at second base to help the Buckeyes escape the inning.

Ohio State had a single hit in the third and seventh inning but did not move runners into scoring position the rest of the game.

In the bottom of the sixth, South Florida worked a batter around to third on a sacrifice bunt and fielder’s choice situation but senior second baseman Whitney Cooper paired with classmate and first baseman Rebecca Schultz for the third out to thwart the Bulls.

The Buckeyes wrap up their spring break schedule with a doubleheader against Cornell and Central Florida at 11 a.m. and 1 p.m. Wednesday in Orlando, Fla.