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COLUMBUS, Ohio – On a beautiful afternoon for fan appreciation day, the Ohio State softball team (10-23, 2-4 Big Ten) lost, 13-4, against Illinois (18-14, 5-1 Big Ten) on a great crowd on hand at Buckeye Field. With the game tied, 4-4, the Illini posted a nine-run sixth inning to claim the series sweep against the Scarlet and Gray in six innings. The game was televised live on the Big Ten Network.

“Like I told the team, Illinois was 45-8 last season and has everyone but one player back in the lineup,” head coach Linda Kalafatis. “They took it to us today and we helped them out with the 10 walks we allowed defensively. I liked the way our team fought back, but it just wasn’t enough today. We appreciate all the Buckeye fans that supported us this afternoon and we will continue to play hard for them this year.”

The Illinois bats came ready to play just like in the first game Saturday as the team notched 14 hits on two home runs, two doubles and 10 singles. Left fielder Jessica Davis continued her hot bat at the plate, going 2-for-3 with two home runs and three RBI, while third baseman Kelly Wedel was 3-for-5 with a home run and three RBI.  

In the bottom of the fifth, the Buckeyes tied the game, 4-4, when freshman Evelyn Carrillo emptied the bases with two outs off starting pitcher Pepper Gay on a double blasted to right center field with sophomore Brittany Mills, senior Brittany Goodchild and junior co-captain Alicia Herron all scoring on the play. The OSU first baseman now has a team-high 24 RBI in 2011.  

However, the Buckeye momentum ended quickly as the Illini regained the lead and opened up the game with a nine-run sixth inning to make it 13-4.  After Medrano walked the bases loaded, freshman Audrey Plant came into the game in a tough position as she faced the hot bat of Davis. The native of Upper Arlington, Ohio, got Davis to pop up to shortstop, however, Herron could not come up with catch as the Orange and Blue took a 5-4 lead. The following batter, Wedel connected on a 1-1 pitch, which soared just over left field wall for a three-run home run to give her team a 8-4 lead. After back-to-back RBI singles, Hackett claimed a three-run double off freshman pitcher Kasie Kelly to make it 13-4 as Mills could not track down the ball facing into the sun in right field.

In the top of the first, the Illini continued where they left off yesterday – posting  a two-run home run to take an early lead. After Medrano allowed a walk, Davis posted a two-run home run over the center field wall on a 2-2 pitch for her third long ball of the weekend.

Highlighting the inning for Ohio State was on the first pitch when senior co-captain Dee Dee Hillman made a full-extension dive in left center field to rob lead-off hitter Danielle Zymkowitz of an extra base hit. Hillman led off the bottom of the first with a single down the first baseline, but the squad could not start a rally as Gay got out of the inning with a groundout.

In the second, the Illini loaded the bases, but Medrano got out of the inning with a fielder’s choice as freshman Melaina Saalfeld made the force out at second base. In the bottom of the second, freshman Melissa Rennie reached base to begin the OSU at-bat on a hit-by-pitch. But Gay posted three-consecutive outs to end the inning.

In the third, the OSU coaching staff decided to make a four-person change in the lineup as Goodchild came into pitch for Medrano. With runners on first and second and one out, Audrey Gallien knocked a long RBI single off the left wall, plating Davis from second. Following a groundout and walk, Medrano came back into the circle as Goodchild headed back to center field. She got the team out of the bases loaded jam with a fielder’s choice as sophomore Megan Coletta made a solid throw to Rennie at the plate for the force out.

In the fourth, Ohio State picked up its first run of the day after Coletta went opposite field with a two-out RBI single through the right side on the first pitch off Gay, scoring Herron from third base.

In the fifth, Davis hit her fourth home run of the series off Goodchild over the left field wall to make it 4-1. The Illini threatened to add on to its lead with runners on second and third, but Medrano, back in the circle, got out of the inning with back-to-back strikeouts.

Illinois outhit the Scarlet and Gray, 14-5, while the Fighting Illini left 10 runners on base and the Buckeye left five runners on base.

The Buckeyes will next travel to Bloomington, Ind., for a midweek conference doubleheader at 2 p.m. Wednesday against Indiana.