EVANSTON, Ill. – The Ohio State softball team fell, 12-2, in five innings at Northwestern Sunday afternoon at Drysdale Field in Evanston, Ill. The Buckeyes (11-29, 2-10 Big Ten) battled back to make it 3-2 in the third inning, however, the Wildcats (22-13, 4-6 Big Ten) rallied with an eight-run fourth inning to claim the early victory.
In the third after Northwestern took an early 3-0 lead, the Buckeyes got back into the game when freshman Melaina Saalfeld crushed a two-out two-run home run off the scoreboard in left field against NU starting pitcher Sammy Albanese with senior Brittany Goodchild on first base to make it 3-2 – the long ball was the second of her young career.
However, the Buckeye pitching staff could not quite the NU bats as the Wildcats notched eight hits on 12 runs, including six hits during their big fourth inning.
In the bottom of the first, the NU batters made starting pitcher Karisa Medrano work in the circle as she threw 43 total pitches. The first two Wildcats drew walks vs. the Buckeye senior. Following an intentional walk to Adrienne Monka, the Wildcats posted a 1-0 lead after Michelle Batts sent a sacrifice fly to right field to plate Emily Allard. Northwestern went ahead 2-0 after a wild pitch by Medrano. Jordan Wheeler then drove a fly ball to left field with the bases loaded for another NU sacrifice fly to make it 3-0. The Scarlet and Gray got out of the inning when Medrano struck out Kristen Sharkey with the bases loaded.
Sophomore Brittany Mills made a nice catch in the bottom of the second in foul territory running to her left with NU runners on first and second and one out. Northwestern stranded two runners on base when Medrano got Marisa Bast to fly out to shallow center.
Northwestern answered Ohio State’s momentum from the top of the third when it pushed its lead back to two runs, 4-2, in the bottom half. Kristen Sharkey claimed the RBI for the Wildcats on a groundout to second base off Medrano.
Ohio State had a great opportunity in the fourth to tie the game with runners on first and second and two outs. Pinch hitter Leesa Gresham took one for the team when she was hit by a pitch by NU reliever Jessica Smith to load the bases full of Buckeyes. However, the Scarlet and Gray stranded the runners when Dee Dee Hillman – although battled hard with a nine-pitch at-bat – struck out swinging against Smith to end the OSU scoring chance.
The Wildcats stretched their lead to 7-2 in the bottom of the fourth when the squad posted back-to-back home runs off Medrano. Batts launched a two-run home run over the right field wall followed by a line drive solo shot by Marisa Bast that just made it above the left field fence.
Freshman pitcher Kasie Kelly then came into the circle for the Buckeyes, but following a walk to Kelly Quinn, freshman pitcher Audrey Plant was called into action. After a single and a walk, Medrano then returned into the game for the Scarlet and Gray. With the bases loaded, third baseman Megan Coletta made a heads-up play when fielding a groundball to get the force out at the plate. But the next batter Allard claimed the clutch hit the Wildcats were looking for when she connected on a pitch with a seeing-eye single through the right side to plate two runs. Robin Thomson then posted a bunt a single in front of the plate after beating out a throw by sophomore catcher Cara Longworth to give Northwestern a 10-2 lead.
Brittany Goodchild then relieved Medrano in the circle with runners on first and third. The Northwestern momentum continued with a two-run single by Monka to give her team a 12-2 advantage.
Medrano received the loss to fall to 6-16 overall this season, while Albanese picked up the victory to improve to 7-6 overall.
Northwestern left seven runners on base, while the Buckeyes left five runners on base.
The Buckeyes will return to Columbus to prepare for a midweek Big Ten doubleheader against Penn State at 5 p.m. Wednesday at Buckeye Field. The second game vs. the Nittany Lions will be streamed live on BTN.com.