COLUMBUS, Ohio – The Ohio State softball team lost, 8-0, against Illinois Saturday afternoon at Buckeye Field to fall to 2-3 in conference play this season. The home run ball was the difference in the game as Illinois (17-14, 4-1 Big Ten) tallied three home runs off the Buckeyes (10-22, 2-3 Big Ten) to claim the run-rule victory.
“I thought Illinois attacked the ball at the plate today and that was the difference in the game,” head coach Linda Kalafatis said. “Karisa has been throwing well for us lately and Illinois made her work today in the circle. I thought Kasie did a nice job of settling down today. We just allowed too many base runners and we have to come out tomorrow ready to play.”
The Fighting Illini was led by left fielder Jessica Davis who went 2-for-2 at the plate with two home runs and five RBI, while center fielder Ashley Conrad was 1-for-3 with a home run and three RBI.
Senior Karisa Medrano started for the Buckeyes and made her 20th appearance, falling to 5-11 on the season, allowing seven runs on three hits in 2.2 innings of work. Illinois starting pitcher Pepper Gay improves to 11-9 overall, allowing just two hits with three strikeouts in five innings.
Sophomore Brittany Mills had the best day at the plate for the Scarlet and Gray, going 1-for-1 with a triple and a walk, while freshman catcher Melissa Rennie was 1-for-2 with a single.
In the top of the first, the Fighting Illini took a 2-0 lead when Davis, the cleanup hitter, knocked a 3-2 pitch just over the left field wall off Medrano. Illinois worked the count on Medrano in the first as she threw 42 pitches in the inning.
In the top of third, Illinois extended its lead to 5-0 with the bat of Davis again at the plate. The Illinois left fielder blasted a three-run home run over the center field wall with one out after Medrano allowed back-to-back walks to begin the third.
After a single to left field and a walk, freshman Kasie Kelly came into the game to relieve Medrano with runners on first and second. Illinois made it 8-0 when center fielder Ashley Conrad posted a two-out three-run homer to center field off Kelly to open up the game with a six-run inning.
In the bottom of the inning, Mills roped a triple over the Illinois right fielder with one out – her third triple of the season. However, the Buckeyes could not take advantage with runners on first and third as Gay sat down junior co-captain Alicia Herron with a strikeout to end the OSU offensive threat.
In the top of the fourth, right fielder Hollie Pinchback tallied a triple to right center with one out after Mills just missed a great diving catch as the ball just fell underneath her glove. However, the Scarlet and Gray claimed the third out when Rennie made a heads-up play behind home plate following a wild pitch. The native of Wellington, Ohio, Rennie collected the ball off the backstop and tagged out Pinchback with a dive at home plate for the final out of the inning.
In the bottom of the fifth, Mills kept the game going with a two-out walk. Senior co-captain Dee Dee Hillman reached base safely following a throwing error by the Illini third baseman, while senior Brittany Goodchild drew a walk. Bu with the bases loaded, Illinois claimed the win when second baseman Danielle Zymkowitz made a great over-the-shoulder play in short right field to collect the final out with Herron at the plate.
The Buckeyes and Fighting Illini are back in action at 3 p.m. Sunday at Buckeye Field. The game will be televised live on Big Ten Network with Lisa Byington and Jennie Ritter on the call.