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Sam Marder hits fourth home run, intentionally walked three times

HOUSTON, Texas – The No. 14/16 Ohio State softball team improved to 4-1 after defeating Kansas, 4-2, Sunday afternoon in its fifth and final game at the Marriot Houston Hobby Classic on a sunny day in Houston, Texas.

Freshman Melanie Nichols entered the game in the bottom of the second and struck out six batters in 6.2 innings for her second career win.

For the second-consecutive game, Sam Marder sent a first pitch out of the park to start the game at the No. 2 spot. The home run was her fourth in Houston and the 47th in her career. Kansas would go on to intentionally walk the senior captain in her next three at-bats.

Sophomore shortstop Alicia Herron kept things going for the Buckeyes with a single and senior captain Courtney Pruner came up with another clutch hit, a double to right-center field, allowing Herron to round third for the score.

The Jayhawks answered with two runs of their own in the bottom of the second. Kansas put runners on first and second after Allie Clark was walked and Brittany Hile singled out to left field. Freshman Mariah Montgomery came through for the Jayhawks with an RBI double. Ohio State’s Nichols replaced starting senior pitcher Megan Miller to finish out the inning, getting the final two outs by fielding a grounder and throwing a third-out strike out.

In the second, the Buckeyes tacked on the gamewinning run as senior third baseman Rebecca Schultz hit a triple deep into right-center field as the leadoff hitter. While junior Karisa Medrano was up at bat, Schultz sped home on a wild pitch to put Ohio State up, 3-2.

The teams played two scoreless innings, until the Buckeyes added an insurance run in the top of the six. Schultz, who went 2-4 at the plate, singled down the third-base line and freshman Julia Pecina entered to pinch run. Pecina advance to second on another Jayhawk wild pitch and Medrano came up big with a double to left-center, scoring Pecina for the 4-2 final.

Kansas pitcher Alex Jones received the loss and is 1-1 while Nichols improve to 2-0 with the win. Pruner finished 2-2 at the plate with an RBI, finishing the weekend with three RBI. Marder recorded a team-high eight walks, six RBI and four home runs.

Ohio State next travels to Stetson, Fla., Feb. 19-21 for its second early season tournament. The Buckeyes will face Top 25 Alabama twice while also playing Stetson and Rhode Island.