COLUMBUS, Ohio – Katie Chain (Jr., North Canton, Ohio/Hoover) struck out a career-high 15 batters and Anna Smith (Sr., Walnut, Ohio/Diamond Bar) recorded her second 3-for-3 hitting performance on the day to help the No. 22 Ohio State softball team to an 8-2 victory over visiting Morehead State in the second game of a doubleheader with the Eagles at Buckeye Field Wednesday. Sarah West (Sr., Galloway, Ohio/Hilliard Davidson), Meghan Rowlands (Fr., Hilliard, Ohio/Bishop Ready) and Chrissy Fowler (Sr., Utica, Ohio/Wright State) added 2-for-3 days at the plate as OSU improved to 40-9 on the year and drop MSU to 9-26-1. The victory marks only the third time in the history of the program the Buckeye have broken the 40-win plateau and the second year in a row after a 46-18 campaign a year ago.
“My rise ball really worked well today and they were biting at it so that got me a lot of the strike outs,” Chain said. “The wins today were great for us because it shows us we are on with out hitting. We carried it over from the last weekend (at Iowa and Northwestern) into today and hopefully we can continue to hit well this weekend.”
MSU jumped ahead early in first. Chain struck out the lead off hitter before giving up a walk to Stephanie Swanger. Toni Carr then ripped a double off the wall in right before a sacrifice bunt by Natalee Owens pushed Swanger home and gave the Eagles a 1-0 lead. Chain settled in and struck out the next seven batters with three caught looking at the third strike. After a 1-2-3 inning for the Buckeyes in the first, OSU scored one run to tie the game. With one out, West singled down the left line and moved to second on a Rowlands ground out. Breana Pozzi (So., Petaluma, Calif./Casa Grande) then singled to right to plate West for the tie game. The Buckeyes struck three times in the third to take a 4-1 lead. With one out, Jennifer Link (Jr., Yorba Linda, Calif./Sonora) singled and moved to second on a single to left by Smith. After the second out was recorded, Kristine Himes (Jr., Bolivar, Ohio/Tuscarawas Valley) singled to right to bring home Link and an errant throw home by the centerfielder allowed Smith in to score while Himes took third. West followed with an RBI single to bring in Himes and give the home team a three-run lead.
MSU had a base runner reach on an error in the fourth, a single in the fifth and a walk in the sixth with neither of the three runners moving past second. The Buckeyes, however, managed to plate another run in the fourth and three in the sixth. In the fourth inning, Fowler led off with a single up the middle and took second on a ground out by Annie Dedic (Jr., Yorba Linda, Calif./Fullerton JC). Link put down a sacrifice bunt to push Fowler to third when Smith singled to right to plate Fowler for a 5-1 lead.
In the sixth, OSU concluded its scoring for an 8-1 lead. Rowlands led off by scorching a shot off the top of the center field wall for a double and moved to third when Pozzi reached on an error. Fowler recorded an RBI single to center to push Rowlands across and move Pozzi to second. With two on and two out, pinch hitter Elizabeth Kacsanek (Jr., Uniontown, Ohio/Green) singled to bring in Fowler and Pozzi and end the OSU scoring. The Eagles answered in the seventh with a run of their own but it was too-little, too-late.
Reliever Jenn Elwell (Sr., Dearborn Heights, Mich./Divine Child) came on in the seventh to close out the game and had a tough start as she hit the leadoff batter, Alison Queen. Nikki Brock followed with a single to left the moved pinch runner Erin Foree to second. After a fly out to center, Jessie Chin singled to center to load the bases for lead off batter Jill Sloan. Sloan was walked by Elwell to score Foree and create an early exit for Elwell. Chain came in to strike out the final two batters of the game to set her new career-high total.
For the series, OSU outhit the Eagles, 25-4, and outscored them, 23-2. Smith went 6-for-6 with four runs scored and an RBI while Buckeye pitchers combined for 12 innings of work with 25 strike outs and four hits allowed.
OSU closes out the home portion of its Big Ten slate with games at 3 p.m. Friday and noon Saturday against Purdue and a noon Sunday doubleheader with Illinois to wrap up the weekend.