LOUISVILLE, Ky. Head coach Linda Kalafatis earned her 700th career win as the No. 22/17 Ohio State softball defeated Eastern Michigan, 11-3, in five innings Sunday morning at Ulmer Stadium in the its final game of the Courtyard by Marriott Airport Cardinal Tournament. Kalafatis is 700-391-2 in her 21st season as a collegiate head coach (427-276 at Ohio State), as the Buckeyes secured their ninth-consecutive win and improved to 20-3 on the season.
The Buckeyes have reached 20 wins in the fewest games in program history (23), besting the previous mark of 25 games in 2002. Also, with the 5-0 record through the tournament, the Buckeyes swept their third early season tournament of the year after going 5-0 in the LSU Tiger Classic Feb. 13-15 and 3-0 and the NFCA Leadoff Classic. They out-scored opponents 38-9 this weekend.
Sam Marder took the first pitch of the ballgame and rocked it to right center for a triple, making way for Courtney Pruner who launched a shot to left center that bounced off the scoreboard for her fifth homerun of the season. With the blast, the junior from Akron, Ohio, moved into sole possession of fifth place on the Buckeye career homerun charts with 19.
Ohio State continued to fire on all cylinders in the second inning, as it batted completely around the order and put six additional runs on the board to go up 8-0 after two. Vanessa Spears started the scoring spree off by getting hit by a pitch, stealing second and returning home off a Karisa Medrano single to right field. Marder and Tory Haddad also plated runners, while an error by the EMU right fielder put Alicia Herron on third and allowed three runs to cross the plate.
The Eagles came back in the top of the third, scoring one run on three hits, including a RBI double to center by Stacie Skodinski. After limiting the Buckeyes to just one hit in the bottom half of the inning, EMU put up two more runs in the fourth to cut the lead to five, 8-3.
In the bottom of the fourth, with runners on first and second, Spears singled home Whitney Cooper to put the Buckeyes on top 9-3, but a strikeout ended the inning one batter later and left two runners in scoring position. They secured the necessary eight-run advantage in the bottom of the fifth, however, with a triple from Brittany Goodchild that scored Shepherd and a single up the middle by Marder that plated Goodchild.
Kim Reeder pitched 3.1 innings with six strikeouts before giving way to Megan Miller in the fourth. Miller struck out one and gave up two hits in 1.2 innings of work.
The Buckeyes usher in a new era next weekend as they open the new Buckeye Field with the first Big Ten series of the year vs. Michigan State. OSU and the Spartans will face off at 2 p.m. Saturday and Sunday. Admission is free and there is a pregame balloon release scheduled for the opening game Saturday to help commemorate the opening.