COLUMBUS, Ohio – The Ohio State softball team swept a doubleheader at home against Morehead State Friday night at Buckeye Field. The Buckeyes (13-29, 2-10 Big Ten) won game one, 2-1, in 10 innings and followed the extra-inning contest with a 6-3 victory in game two vs. the Eagles (19-31, 10-14 OVC).
The Scarlet and Gray posted 17 hits in the two games with six Buckeyes claiming two or more hits in the doubleheader. Freshman Evelyn Carrillo posted two hits with four RBI, junior co-captain Alicia Herron was 3-for-7 with a home run, triple and three runs and sophomore Megan Coletta was 3-for-7 with a double and two RBI. Senior co-captain Dee Dee Hillman collected three hits, while freshmen Melissa Rennie and Melaina Saalfeld each had two hits with a double.
It took 10 innings to decide the outcome of game one as both pitchers were consistent in the circle and had solid defense behind them in the diamond. Carrillo was the hero for the Buckeyes as she claimed the game-winning sacrifice fly to left field with Herron scoring on the play in the bottom of the tenth. Herron sent a deep fly ball to right center field for a one-out triple to start the OSU rally.
“They were playing the outfield in with the winning run on base and Alicia did a good job of getting back and tagging on the play,” head coach Linda Kalafatis said. “Evelyn had a clutch at-bat for us. It felt great to pick up the sweep at home before a bye weekend. I thought our defense played really well tonight. We have to continue to do that for the rest of the season.”
Senior pitcher Karisa Medrano received the complete game win after throwing 135 pitches in the contest. She improved to 7-17 overall, allowing just one run with seven strikeouts and no walks. Morehead State starting pitcher Ashley Imperial fell to 7-14 overall, allowing two runs on nine hits with six strikeouts in 9.2 innings of work.
“I thought Karisa was very effective in just throwing the pitches that were called and I thought we had a good plan in attacking their hitters,” Kalafatis said. “I thought she was gutsy and executed her pitches today.”
Medrano started the game off a strikeout and had some help from her left fielder as Hillman made a nice diving catch down the line to record the third out.
In the bottom of the first, senior Brittany Goodchild began the Buckeye offense with a single up the middle followed by a stolen base. With two outs, Carrillo knocked a line drive to left field for an RBI single with Goodchild scoring the first run of the game, 1-0. The MSU shortstop was inches away from making a great snag, but the ball was hit hard and went just off the end of her glove.
The second and third innings went scoreless. The Eagles recorded their first hit with a two-out blooper to right field by lead-off hitter Sam Woodall in the top of the third. However, Rennie fired a perfect ball down to second base from behind the plate as Woodall was caught stealing to retire the side.
In the bottom half, Hillman notched a one-out single to right center as the Buckeyes looked to add to their early lead. After Goodchild moved Hillman to second base when she grounded out to the pitcher, Herron stepped into the box with an RBI opportunity. But Imperial retired the Buckeye shortstop as she grounded out to third on a hard-hit ball.
Morehead State tied the game, 1-1, in the top of the fourth when shortstop Kayla Ashbrook connected on a 2-1 pitch off Medrano for a two-out RBI double to right center. The Buckeyes collected a single in the bottom of the inning but could not start a rally.
Following the big hit by the Eagles, Medrano settled down in the circle and retired seven of the next eight MSU batters as the score remained, 1-1, headed into the bottom of the sixth.
Ohio State was in business in the bottom of the sixth after Herron and Saalfeld claimed singles through the left side with one out. However, Imperial held strong in the circle for Morehead State and got out of the inning with two groundouts.
In the top of the seventh, the Eagles put the go-ahead run on base when first baseman Amber Riddle singled up the middle with one down. But Medrano didn’t get rattled as the OSU senior claimed a strikeout and groundout to end a potential MSU rally.
In the bottom of the seventh with the game tied, 1-1, the Buckeyes were 90 feet away from the victory with sophomore Julia Pecina on third and Goodchild up to bat. Pecina began the huge chance for the Scarlet and Gray with a one-out double to right center off Imperial. However, the MSU pitcher claimed the strikeout to force extra innings.
Morehead State opened the top of the ninth when Kayla Brill hit by a pitch vs. Medrano. Herron came up with an MSU rally-killer when she collected a double play as she fielded a groundball up the middle and fired the ball across to first, while touching second base.
In the bottom of the ninth, Ohio State was once again 90 feet from the win as the Buckeyes had runners on second and third and two outs on the board. However, Imperial got Hillman to groundout to shortstop as the game headed to the tenth inning – just around the two-hour mark. Morehead State made two errors in the inning, but it ended up not costing them the game.
Hillman made another “web gem” to end the top of the tenth with a diving catch in the left center with the wind taking the ball away from her.
Ohio State stranded nine runners in game one, while Morehead State left four runners on base. The Buckeyes had a 9-5 advantage in hits.
In game two, the Buckeyes plated runs in the first, third and fourth innings to earn their second win of the evening.
Freshman pitcher Kasie Kelly earned the victory to improve to 4-7 overall, throwing 4.2 innings, allowing three runs with two strikeouts. Medrano claimed her first career save after throwing 2.1 innings on two hits and no runs.
Just like the first game, Ohio State took an early lead in the bottom of the first. The OSU bats were alive as the squad posted five hits off MSU starting pitcher Kelcey McMurray to go ahead, 3-0. Carrillo began the scoring with an RBI single through the right side, scoring Herron. After Saalfeld doubled to left center, Coletta plated both Carrillo and Saalfeld with a single in right field to make it 3-0.
The Eagles cut their deficit to 3-1 in the top of the second after running the double steal play with runners on the corners. After Kelly got Samm Sparks to strike out looking, Stephanie Etter took off to second, while Ashbrook charged from third to home. The Buckeye defense was ready when Saalfeld cut off a throw by Rennie behind the circle, but a tardy throw made it 3-1 when Ashbrook slid across the plate for the score.
In the bottom of the third, Herron made it 4-1 when she blasted an opposite field home run just over the right center field wall – her team-high seventh long ball of 2011. The Eagles then went to a pitching change as Jami Whitcomb relieved McCarthy.
The Buckeyes extended their lead to 6-1 in the bottom of the fourth. Rennie knocked a double to right center to lead off the OSU at-bat. With one out, Pecina connected on a pitch by Whitcomb as she sent a groundball through the legs of the Eagle shortstop to plate Rennie from second base. Pecina’s speed was seen on the base paths as she raced all the way to third on the defensive error. Control then became an issue for the MSU pitcher as she walked in a run with the bases loaded as Hillman scored a run.
Morehead State picked up two runs in the top of the fifth. The Eagles scored their first run of the inning on a wild pitch with runners on second and third. The next batter, third baseman Rebecca Butler slapped a hard liner to Coletta at third base that just went off her glove for an infield RBI single to make it 6-3.
Medrano’s number was called back into action in the second game with two outs in the top of the fifth and would go on to close out the rest of the contest for the Buckeyes.
Ohio State will next travel north to face conference rival Michigan in a midweek doubleheader at 5 p.m. May 4 in Ann Arbor. Both games will be televised live on the Big Ten Network.