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Courtney Pruner hits second grand slam of the season; ends series 6-for-7 with seven RBI

CHAMPAIGN, Ill. – Complete with a grand slam from senior right fielder Courtney Pruner, the No. 20 Ohio State softball team took care of its opportunities, downing No. 18 Illinois, 10-2, Sunday at Eichelberger Field in Champaign, Ill. The Buckeyes are now 22-11 overall and 3-1 in the Big Ten while the Illini are 27-5 and 3-2 in the league.

Ohio State starting pitcher Megan Miller moves to8-2 on the season after allowing just two runs on six hits.

“We did a great job of cashing in our opportunities today,” Linda Kalafatis, Ohio State head coach, said. “We hit hard and Megan pitched really well. I thought she was really tough out there today and Courtney Pruner had a tremendous weekend for us.”

After being retired in order in the first, senior captain Sam Marder jump started the Buckeye offense and classmate Pruner continued it as both dinked singles into shallow right field in the top of the second. After junior Karisa Medrano walked, freshman Megan Coletta hit a sacrifice fly to deep left field to bring Marder in and put the first run on the board. Ohio State would end the inning with one run, three hits and two left on base.

But just like the day before, when one team scored, the other answered and in the bottom of the side, Illinois loaded the bases with zero outs. The Scarlet and Gray quickly posted two outs as Pruner made a diving catch in shallow right field and the Illini runner on third was called out for leaving early. U of I would tally before the inning was over as Danielle Vaji sent a laser through the right side to bring in Kelley Wedel.

Ohio State jumped back ahead in the third, scoring three runs off of three hits, including an RBI double from Pruner, her 140th career. After the Illini had already retired two batters, sophomore shortstop Alicia Herron ripped a triple back to the wall in right centerfield and Marder walked before Pruner did some damage with her double. Medrano hit her fourth double of the season to score the Buckeye runners and give Ohio State a 4-1 lead.

Illinois cut the Buckeye lead to two, scoring an unearned run in the bottom of the third. After Howell reached second base on an OSU fielding error, she advanced to third on a Pinchback single and came home on a fielder’s choice situation before the Buckeyes recorded the final out.

Pepper Gay, Illinois starting pitcher, was pulled after allowing four runs off of six hits through three innings of work and was replaced with Monica Perry, the winning pitcher from Saturday.

Both defensives seemed to have settled in as the Buckeyes and Illini recorded just one hit apiece through the fourth and fifth innings until Ohio State again loaded the bases in the top of the sixth and Pruner cleared the bases for her second grand slam of the season. Prior to the homer, pinch runner Julia Pecina scored an unearned run, coming home on a passed ball as the Buckeyes posted five runs off of three hits to pull ahead, 9-2.  

In the top of the seventh, Illinois brought in Jackie Guy to close out the game. Lefthander slapper Brittany Goodchild recorded her second hit of the day, doubling to left center before advancing to third on an Illini error and scoring on a Copper fly out to deep center for the 10-2 final.

Ohio State returns to Columbus for a doubleheader vs. Bowling Green at 5 p.m. Wednesday before heading off to East Lansing, Mich., where the squad will play a Big Ten series vs. Michigan State at 1 p.m. Saturday and Sunday.