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COLUMBUS, Ohio – In the home opener at Buckeye Field, the Ohio State softball team fell, 5-3, against Iowa on a chilly Saturday afternoon in Columbus. The Buckeyes (7-19, 0-1 Big Ten) had the winning run on base in the final inning, but could not claim the big hit as the Hawkeyes (17-12, 1-0 Big Ten) held on for the conference victory.

“We fought hard today and had an opportunity with the bases loaded, but we didn’t make the most of it,” head coach Linda Kalafatis said. “Heading into tomorrow, hopefully we can take advantage of our opportunities better and finish the weekend with a win.”

The Hawkeyes scored the opening run in the top of the first and added to their lead in the top of the third with their second run. Ohio State was able to tie the game at 2-2 in the bottom of the fourth, but Iowa came right back with three runs in the fifth, which would be enough to seal the win.

Offensively, Iowa was led by catcher Liz Watkins, who went 4-for-4 at the plate with three RBI, while Johnnie Dowling hit a solo home run.

For the Buckeyes, Ohio State was led at the plate by freshman Evelyn Carrillo, who highlighted the day with a home run that will be remembered by all who witnessed at Buckeye Field. In the bottom of the sixth, the OSU first baseman connected on an 0-1 pitch that ricochet off the football tower 40 feet in the air just behind the right field fence – a home run that had everyone in the ball park impressed with her power display. She went 2-for-3 at the plate with an RBI and now leads the team with four home runs in 2011.

Freshman catcher Melissa Rennie was 2-for-3, while sophomore Megan Coletta and Melaina Saalfeld each had an RBI. Senior Brittany Goodchild was 1-for-3 with a walk and a run scored.

In the bottom of the seventh, the Buckeyes loaded the bases with two outs after Goodchild reached base on an error and Iowa starting pitcher Chelsea Lyon allowed back-to-back walks to junior co-captain Alicia Herron and Carrillo.  However, Lyon was able to strikeout Coletta to end the Buckeye threat and the first Big Ten game of the spring for the two teams. She improves to 9-8 on the season, allowing seven hits, three earned runs and striking out three OSU batters.

In the circle for the Scarlet and Gray was senior Karisa Medrano, who although pitched her fourth complete game of the season, did not get the outcome she was looking for as she received the loss to fall to 2-10 on the season. In seven innings of work, Medrano allowed eight hits on four earned runs and struck out five Iowa Batters – second-most strikeouts this year for the Buckeye starter.

In the top of the first, Iowa opened the scoring with a two-out RBI single to left field by Watkins as shortstop Chelsey Carmody scored on the play. In the top of the third, Watkins claimed another two-out RBI – this time a single up the middle, plating Dowling to make it 2-0.

The Buckeyes were able to tie the game at 2-2 in the bottom of the fourth inning. The squad loaded the bases with no outs following a single by Goodchild, a walk to Herron and single by Carrillo. The next batter, Coletta then hit a fielder’s choice to the left side to claim a RBI as Goodchild scored on the play to make it 2-1. With two outs, Saalfeld then stepped up to the plate and hit a RBI single to right field, scoring pinch runner Alyson Mott from third base. However, Iowa ended the inning on a solid defensive play when Saalfeld was caught in a run-down between first and second base, Carmody came up throwing to home plate as Coletta tried to give OSU the lead, but was tagged out to end the inning.  

In the fifth, the Hawkeyes scored their final three runs of the afternoon. Dowling began the Iowa momentum with a solo home run to left field to make it 3-2. Following a walk to Carmody, Watkins claimed her third hit of the contest with a two-out RBI double to left center to extend the lead, 4-2. Michelle Zoeller then followed with an RBI single up the middle to score Watkins to make it 5-2.

Brittany Mills had a solid defensive play for the Buckeyes in right field.  The second-year Buckeye completed a double play in the fourth inning when she made the heads-up throw to first base following the catch as she caught the Iowa runner off the bag to kill a potential Iowa rally.

The Hawkeyes had an 8-7 advantage in hits, while both teams left eight runners on base.

Ohio State and Iowa complete the two-game series at 2 p.m. Sunday at Buckeye Field.