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Senior designated player notches career-high six RBI

COLUMBUS, Ohio – Senior designated player Courtney Pruner hit two home runs, including a grand slam with two outs in the top of the fifth, as the No. 14/17 Ohio State softball team (11-5) run-ruled East Tennessee State (7-6), 13-1, Friday in the squad’s first game at the aTen Construction Tournament in Riverside, Calif.

Senior pitcher Megan Miller (5-1) got the nod for Ohio State against ESTU, recording four strikeouts and walking no batters as the Buccaneers posted just one unearned run off of six hits. In eight appearances this season, Miller owns a 2.20 ERA and has thrown three complete games.

“We jumped on them earlier and unfortunately we did not play well defensively in the first inning giving them several base runners and a run,” Linda Kalafatis, Ohio State head coach, said. “But we challenged the team in the fifth inning to play harder because we felt like we were coasting. Coach Ali Viola got the girls refocused and they did just what we asked of them.”

With senior Sam Marder, the Ohio State all-time home run record hitter, and senior Courtney Pruner, No. 3 on the all-time home run list, batting in the No. 1 and No. 2 spots, the Buccaneer pitching staff had a lot to handle in the first game of the weekend. In all, seven different Buckeyes combined for 11 hits, the second most hits in a game this season, as Ohio State batted through its lineup twice, providing a five-run first inning and seven-run fifth inning for the victory.

In the top of the first, Marder waited patiently and was eventually walked for the 14th time this season, but with Pruner up next, ESTU starting pitcher Marissa Hardy gave up a two-run homer. For the Akron, Ohio, native, it was her 30th career home run and fourth this season. And the Buckeyes didn’t stop there. Two batters later, senior Whitney Cooper went long, bringing home sophomore Alicia Herron who got on base with a single to right-center. Cooper has now homered in back-to-back games after hitting a three-run home run vs. No. 5 UCLA last Sunday.

The Buckeyes are now 6-0 on the season when scoring in the first inning.

Still with no outs recorded and Jessica Duncan replacing Hardy on the mound for the Buccaneers. Next up, sophomore Megan Coletta, batting in the seventh spot, knocked down a sacrifice bunt to move Buckeye runners to second and third. After two outs, junior Brittany Goodchild stepped up and hit an RBI single to Duncan to bring in Ohio State’s fifth and final run of the inning. In first, the Buckeyes recorded five runs off of four hits and left two on base.

The only run ESTU would put on the board was an unearned run in the first. With two outs recorded early in the inning, the Buccaneers extended the side twice because of two Buckeye errors. Batting in the No. 6 spot, Trisha Massenzo brought in the run before Miller struck out an ESTU batter looking.

After neither team scored in the second nor the third, Goodchild notched a run of her own in the top of the fourth, stealing home in her second-consecutive game. After singling, advancing to second on a Marder hit and moving to third on a Pruner fly to right field, Goodchild stole home in a double-steal situation as East Tennessee went for the out at second as Katie Simonton, pinch running for Marder, got caught in a rundown.

Ohio State put up seven runs off of four hits in the top of the fifth to secure its first run-rule victory of 2010. Batting through the order in the fifth, the Buckeyes did the most damage behind a two-out Pruner grand slam, the third in her career, to put the squad up 12-1. The senior ended the game, going 2-3 at the plate with a career-high six RBI. Prior to Pruner’s second home run of the game, junior Karisa Medrano and Coletta hit a pair of RBI singles to give the Buckeyes an 8-1 lead while Herron closed out the victory following Pruner with a solo home run.

“Our focused this weekend is to score last because I think that is a hidden stat. Often, the team who scores last wins,” Kalafatis said.

Game Notes:
– Inclement weather is expected in Riverside, Calif., so Ohio State’s schedule has changed. Instead of playing one game Friday, the Buckeyes will play two, facing host UC Riverside at 2:30 p.m. PST. Riverside is coming off a 3-2 victory over No. 5 UCLA – a team OSU defeated, 7-0, last Sunday.
– Senior Courtney Pruner hit her 30th and 31st career home runs, taking over sole possession of the No. 3 spot on the all-time OSU record list. She also has 129 career RBI, passing Jamee Juarez (2004-07) for fourth on the all-time record list.
– With her third career grand slam, Pruner recorded a career and game-high six RBI.
Pruner Career Grand Slams:
vs. Long Beach State, March 20, 2007
vs. Georgia, May 22, 2009 at the NCAA Super Regional
vs. East Tennessee State, March 5, 2010
– The Pruner and Alicia Herron back-to-back home runs in the fifth and were the first Buckeye duo to hit back-to-back home runs since Sam Marder and Pruner hit two vs. Mississippi State Feb. 27, 2009.
– Pruner and Herron extended their hitting streak to seven games, tying Dee Dee Hillman for the team lead.
– Marder was walked twice vs. the Buccaneers and has now been walked a Big Ten-high 15 times this season and 186 times in her career.
– Senior Whitney Cooper went 2-3 at the plate with two RBI. Cooper has now hit multiple-run home runs in back-to-back contests.
– Freshman Julia Pecina entered the game for Cooper at second base in the fifth. Pecina was hit by a pitch in her at-bat.
– The 13 runs and 12 RBI mark 2010 game highs for the Buckeyes.
– Ohio State has outscored its opponents, 76-44, this year.