COLUMBUS, Ohio – In the first games of the 2011 season, the No. 22/24 Ohio State softball team fell, 9-0, to Kentucky but rebounded with a 2-1 victory over FIU Friday at the FIU Combat Classic in Miami, Fla. The Buckeyes (1-1; 0-0 Big Ten) will return to action at 10 a.m. against Memphis and 4 p.m. vs. North Florida Saturday in the second day of the tournament at the FIU Softball Complex.
In game one in season openers for both Ohio State and Kentucky, both starting pitchers struggled with their control early but were able to wiggle out of jams in the first and second innings. However, Buckeye starter Karisa Medrano ran into trouble in the third inning of her first-career start. After Kara Dill singled and stole second, Megan Yocke walked and Meagan Aull followed with a lineout to Buckeye shortstop Alicia Herron. Brittany Cervantes then walked to load the bases for the Wildcats. Back-to-back singles ensued to make it 3-0 and a wild pitch scored another to push the score to 4-0 Kentucky before freshman Kasie Kelly came on in relief to get the Buckeyes out of the inning.
The Wildcats then added five in the fourth off a pair of two-run home runs from Aull and Samantha DeMartine and a solo shot by Erika Silence to extend the lead to 8-0.
Meanwhile, Kentucky junior Chanda Bell stifled the Buckeyes after walking the leadoff batter in each of the first two frames. Bell gave up three hits while striking out 10 over five shutout innings to pick up the win.
Herronand Rachael Shepherd each had a hit for the Buckeyes. Medrano suffered the loss for Ohio State, giving up four earned runs over four innings.
In game two, Shepherd put the Buckeyes ahead early with a solo home run to left to lead off the second while Kelly, a reliever for Ohio State in game one, struck out three Golden Panthers over the first two frames of her first collegiate start.
Ohio State threatened again in the third after a Dee Dee Hillman single and a Herron walk put runners on first and second with two down but a groundout by freshman Evelyn Carrillo ended the threat. FIU then put a pair of runners on with two down in the bottom of the third after a double by Jessy Alfonso and a walk to Ashley McClain but Kelly was able to strike out Brie Rojas looking to preserve the 1-0 lead.
In the fourth inning, FIU tied the game at 1-1 when Jenny Welch hit a solo home run over the right centerfield wall with one out on the board to give the Golden Panthers just their third hit of the contest.
However, in the top of the fifth inning, Ohio State loaded the bases after Hillman walked, sophomore outfielder Brittany Mills singled through the right side and Herron walked. The following play, Hillman scored following a Carrillo ground out RBI, which turned out to be the gamewinning at-bat for the Buckeyes.
Melanie Nichols, the 2010 Big Ten Freshman of the Year, finished off the Golden Panthers in the final two innings, claiming six-consecutive outs for the Buckeyes with two strikeouts.
Kelly earned her first collegiate win of her Ohio State career, allowing just three hits with five strikeouts in five innings of work.