COLUMBUS, Ohio – On the final day of competition at the 2011 Cathedral City Classic, the Ohio State softball team fell, 10-0 (five innings), against No. 18 Nebraska and, 12-5, against No. 2 UCLA Sunday at the Big League Dreams Sports Park in Cathedral City, Calif. The Buckeyes (4-11, 0-0 Big Ten) conclude the tournament with an 0-5 record.
In game one, extra chances for the Huskers and OSU defensive errors were a major factor in the ball game at replica Fenway Park. Nebraska scored three runs in each of the first three innings to break the game open, 9-0. The Ohio State bats were limited as well as Nebraska claimed a one-hit performance with the combination of starter Ashley Hageman and reliever Tatum Edwards.
Making her first career start was freshman pitcher Audrey Plant. Nebraska began the rally after lead-off hitter Nikki Haget reached base safely after an error at second base. Following a sacrifice bunt by Julie Brechtel, Taylor Edwards knocked a double to right center, scoring Haget to make it 1-0. The following batter, Brooke Thomason sent a pitch over the right center field fence to extend the lead to three runs for the Huskers.
Hageman was finding her groove early, striking out three OSU batters in the first two innings. She went three innings, allowing no hits on one walk with four strikeouts to pick up her tenth win of the season.
In the bottom of the second, Nebraska continued its momentum with three additional runs – all unearned. Tatums Edwards reached on an error to third base followed by Megan Southworth, who sent a pitch up the middle for a base hit. Freshman pitcher Kasie Kelly then replaced Plant following the NU single. After a sacrifice bunt, Brechtel continued her hot bat with a two-out two-RBI double that just made it out to short center field to make it 6-0.
In the top of the third, the Scarlet and Gray had their first scoring opportunity with freshman Melissa Rennie on second and junior Vanessa Spears on first. However, Hageman was able to get the force out at third base after Hillman hit into a fielder’s choice on a close play at the bag for the second out. The NU pitcher then struck out Alicia Herron to end the inning.
The next NU at bat, the Huskers made it 9-0 after a Buckeye error at second base began the rally for the Big 12 team. Megan Southworth then hit a double to left center with one out to make it 8-0, while Brechtel picked up her third RBI with a single, scoring Haget
In the fourth, Nebraska made a pitching change as designated player Tatum Edwards headed to the circle. After a hit by pitch that went off the helmet of freshman Evelyn Carrillo, Edwards sent down the next three OSU batters to keep Buckeyes hitless through four.
The play of the day came in the bottom of the fourth inning with senior Brittany Goodchild drawing an ovation from both Husker and Buckeye fans. At the plate, Edwards connected on a pitch and sent it down the right field line but Goodchild was there to rob an extra base hit. Stepping backwards, the native of West Hills, Calif., made a stretching catch over her left shoulder, while crashing through the fence to save two more NU runs. The Huskers picked up their final run of the day after an RBI single by Southworth, which scored Heidi Foland from second base.
In the fifth, Spears broke up the no-hit performance, but Nebraska eventually claimed the five-inning win, 10-0. Plant receives the loss and falls to 0-1 in 2011, going one inning with three hits, two earned runs and struck out one NU batter.
In game two vs. the defending NCAA champions, a great crowd was on display as fans scattered down each base line to watch the two teams play at replica Wrigley field. After being down 4-0 early, the Buckeyes fought back to cut it 7-5, but the Bruins pulled away late in the game to pick up their 13th victory of the year.
The Buckeyes threatened first with runners on first and second to begin the game after back-to-back hits by Herron and Carrillo. However, UCLA pitcher Jessica Hall struck out two-consecutive OSU batters to get out of the early jam.
The Bruins got on the board first with four runs in the opening inning. UCLA started the rally after a ground-rule double by DiSalvatore off Buckeye starter Karisa Medrano. Spears crashed through the wall in center field, while trying to make a great play – like she did two days earlier vs. the Aggies – but could not track it down for the out. The Scarlet and Gray then called in Kelly to replace Medrano in the circle.
With runners on second and third, Kelly was called for two consecutive-illegal pitches by the umpire, making it 3-0 in favor of the Bruins. Kellie Fox then stole second base and advanced to third after a throwing error by Rennie. The next batter, Kelly was called for her third illegal pitch against Alyssa Tiumalu to make it 4-0 as Fox tallied the run.
The Buckeyes then went to its third pitcher of the inning with Plant getting called into the circle. The Buckeye freshman got OSU out of the inning with a strikeout and ground out to first baseman Carrillo. In total, the Buckeye pitchers were called for six illegal pitches in the opening frame.
For the second straight inning, Ohio State had runners on first and second after a walk to Melaina Saalfeld and a base hit by Megan Coletta in the second, but this time, the Buckeyes plated runs.
Saalfeld scored the first Buckeye run following a single by Spears and a throwing error by UCLA third baseman Talee Snow. With Coletta now on third and Spears on first, the Buckeyes ran a double steal to perfection as the Buckeye third baseman made it 4-2. Spears advanced to third on the play after an error by Fox, the UCLA shortstop. However, Hall was able to work herself out of the inning with a strikeout and groundout to end the OSU rally.
In the bottom of the inning, the Bruins extended their lead to five runs with four hits, including three straight against Plant. Fox started the scoring with an RBI single, while Tiumalu sent a rocket up the middle, plating two UCLA Bruins to make it 7-2 after two.
In the third, Ohio State had nothing to show, going one-two-three vs. Hall. Goodchild had solid contact with two outs, but hit a liner right at the UCLA third baseman. The Buckeye defense held strong in the bottom of the inning. With runners on the corners, Rennie fired a perfect toss down to Coletta to tag out pinch runner Leroux for the first out to end the UCLA momentum.
In the fourth, the Buckeyes were able to put the ball in play, while taking advantage of the defensive erros by the Bruins to score three runs. With the bases loaded, Herron singled to the shortstop, scoring Saalfeld for the RBI, while Coletta plated another run from second base following an error by the Bruins’ shortstop to make it 7-4. Hall’s next pitch sailed over the glove of UCLA catcher Tiumala as Hillman came speeding in with a head-first dive to cut the Bruins lead to 7-5.
But the Bruins answered the OSU rally with three runs of their own in the bottom of the inning when Snow posted an RBI single and B.B. Bates sent a two-out RBI double to left field against Plant to make it 10-5.
In the sixth, Ohio State went down in order against Hall and the Bruins threatened to end the game by the run-rule, scoring two additional runs to make it 12-5 after an RBI by DiSalvatore and an RBI groundout by Andrea Harrison. The Buckeyes had runners on first and second in the final inning, but could not produce any runs on the board as Hall claimed the complete game performance.
Hall picks up the win and improves to 7-3 on the season, giving up eight hits with two earned runs, while striking out seven OSU batters. Medrano receives the loss (1-7) after giving up three earned runs on one hit and two walks.
The Buckeyes are back in action next weekend as the team travels to a tournament in Tulsa, Okla., to begin the month of March. Ohio State will play four games, opening up against North Dakota at 10 a.m. CT Friday.