Freshman Melanie Nichols earns 21st win, 15th complete game
COLUMBUS, Ohio – Behind a three-run home run from senior Courtney Pruner and a six strikeout performance from freshman pitcher Melanie Nichols, the No. 19 Ohio State softball team posted a 3-1 victory over Penn State Saturday afternoon in a very windy and chilly University Park, Pa.
The Buckeyes improve to 34-12 overall and 13-2 in the Big Ten with just three games remaining in the regular season. The Nittany Lions fall to 28-21 overall and 7-10 in conference action with the loss, their fifth in a row.
Pruner hit her 10th home run of the season and 36th of her career in the first inning, going over the left-center wall with a two out, one-and-one pitch after junior Dee Dee Hillman and sophomore Alicia Herron were walked. Going 2-for-3 on the day with three RBI, Pruner now has 153 career RBI while helping the senior class to its 154th win. The 2010 class is just one victory shy of tying for third on the OSU all-time winningest senior class list.
The Scarlet and Gray are now 19-1 when scoring in the first inning in 2010.
Nichols, who was battling 40 mile-per-hour winds, recorded her 21st victory and 15th career complete game. The winningest freshman pitcher in Buckeye history, Nichols struck out six while scattering six hits and holding Penn State off the scoreboard until the bottom of the seventh.
The Buckeyes notched three more hits off PSU pitcher Jackie Hill who also threw a complete game and fanned seven but were unable to register another run.
The Nittany Lions evaded a shut out, scoring a single run in the final stanza off of three hits. Penn State moved second baseman Lauren Rossi around the bases before she crossed home on a single to left center from Kailyn Johnson.
Ohio State and Penn State will complete the Big Ten series at 1 p.m. Sunday at Nittany Lion Field.