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Strong pitching keeps Buckeyes perfect at home

COLUMBUS, Ohio – Behind two strong performances on the mound and solid defense overall, the No. 20 Ohio State softball team (24-11, 3-1 Big Ten) swept in-state foe Bowling Green, 4-0 and 10-0 (5), Wednesday night at Buckeye Field. The Buckeyes are now 7-0 at home.

“We were terrific on the mound but not as consistent as I’d like offensively,” Linda Kalafatis, Ohio State head coach, said. “Bowling Green did a good job of keeping us off balance. During the break we challenged the team to do better and it was nice to see them respond in game two.”

Prior to the start of the game, the squad officially welcomed Sammy Hardy into their Buckeye family. The Ohio State softball team has adopted Sammy through the Safe on the Sidelines program in conjunction with the Friends of Jaclyn organization.

Game One
Freshman pitcher Melanie Nichols went the distance for Ohio State in game one. The San Jacinto, Calif., native notched her team leading 12th victory, shutting out the Falcons with a career-high eight strikeouts.

Ohio State jumped ahead 3-0, scoring a single run in the first and two in the second.

In the first, centerfielder Dee Dee Hillman started things off with a single before advancing to second on a Whitney Cooper sacrifice bunt. On a wild pitch, the junior took third before clean-up hitters Sam Marder and Courtney Pruner were put on base with a pair of walks. With bases loaded and two outs on the board, junior Karisa Medrano recorded her 12th RBI of the season, bringing Hillman home.

The Buckeyes kept chipping away at the Falcons, scoring two more in the second as Bowling Green starting pitcher Melissa Bott walked in both runs. With bases loaded and Marder and Pruner, both of whom rank in the Top 3 on the all-time home run list at Ohio State, as the next two batter in lineup, the Falcons had their hands full. After intentionally walking Marder in her first at-bat, Bott pitched to her but still walked the patient batter, bringing home a Buckeye runner. Next up, Pruner also was walked to score another OSU run.

After neither team scored in the third, Alicia Herron doubled in the fourth before advancing to third on a fielder’s choice situation. With runners on the corners, Pruner and Herron pulled off a double steal, as Herron stole home while BG was attempting to throw out Pruner at second for the final run of the game.

In the game, Ohio State had four hits while the Falcons walked eight batters. Nichols allowed seven hits but partnered with the Buckeye defense to hold Bowling Green off the board.

Game Two
Senior pitcher Megan Miller allowed just two hits through four innings of work before relief pitcher Karisa Medrano came in and added a perfect inning as Ohio State run-ruled Bowling Green, 10-0, in five innings.

Miller set the tone for the game early, retiring the first five Falcons in order, finishing the game with three strikeouts while forcing five groundouts and walking just one.

The game was scoreless until junior outfielder Brittany Goodchild supplied a spark in the bottom of the third. Goodchild hit a leadoff double, the first of five hits in the inning, as Ohio State jumped ahead 6-0. The Buckeyes batted through the lineup with senior Leah Ledford recording a two RBI single to right center while Whitney Cooper added an RBI single and Courtney Pruner and RBI as she again walked with the bases loaded.

In the fourth, Ohio State added four more runs and ensured the run rule with a quick three outs in the top of the fifth. Goodchild again was explosive, recording a three RBI double as she lifted a ball just over the left fielder’s glove.

“Basically, I was just trying to put the swing I’ve been working on in practice on the ball,” Goodchild, who went 2-for-3 at the plate, said. “Things worked out for me.”

For the game, sophomore Alicia Herron went 3-for-3 with two doubles while scoring two runs. Senior Sam Marder was walked three more times to bring her total for the up to eight. In all, Ohio State out-hit Bowling Green, 9-2.

The Buckeyes are back in action this weekend, playing a Big Ten series at 1 p.m. Saturday and Sunday vs. Michigan State in East Lansing, Mich.