Buckeyes conclude regular season with 44-9 overall record, 16-4 Big Ten
COLUMBUS, Ohio Sam Marder broke the Ohio State softball career homerun record with her 42nd overall and 18th this season as the No. 11-ranked Buckeyes swept Penn State, 6-0 and 2-0, in a doubleheader Saturday afternoon at New Buckeye Field in front of 1,105 fans. With the wins, the Scarlet and Gray improves to 44-9 this season, 16-4 in the Big Ten and secures a second-place finish in the Big Ten conference standings. The Nittany Lions finish their season at 19-27 and 7-13 in conference play.
The 44 wins stand as the most since the Buckeyes tallied 55 during the 2002 season and the third-most of any team in program history, including postseason runs. Senior Kim Reeder, who was honored after the games during the Senior Day activities, and sophomore Lindsay Bodeker earned the wins in the circle, bringing the team’s total shutout wins this season to 22.
Marder’s blast came in the bottom of the sixth in the second game of the doubleheader with a solo blast to center field.
GAME ONE: After 4.5 scoreless innings, the Buckeyes took a 1-0 lead and used a five-run six inning to come away with the win. With two outs in the bottom of the fifth, Dee Dee Hillman singled to shallow center, stole second and advanced to third on a throwing error by the Penn State catcher. Vanessa Spears took advantage of the runner in scoring position with a single to the shortstop that gave Hillman enough room to return home.
The rally continued in the sixth when the team exploded for five runs, starting with Alicia Herron’s single up the middle that led to her being advanced to second on a sac bunt by Whitney Cooper. A Tory Haddad RBI double to right center plated Herron and eventually led to a bases loaded situation for Hillman, who finished the day 2-for-3 from the lead-off spot. She put up a sac fly to center that scored Katie Simonton after she entered the game as a pinch runner for Haddad.
Vanessa Spears then cleared the bases with a three-run shot to right center her second this season to give Ohio State the 6-0 lead. Reeder then retired the Penn State side to close out the game with two strikeouts and a fly out to third in foul territory.
In the circle, Reeder threw a two-hit shutout, improving to 23-5 on the season with her 74th career victory just two away from tying the all-time record 76 set by Jamee Juarez in 2004-07. The Salinas, Calif., native also tallied her 10th scoreless game of the season to move into a tie for second on the single-season shutout chart. She struck out eight and walked one in her 18th complete game of the year.
GAME TWO: The second game looked much like the first as the teams put up a defensive battle through 4.5 scoreless innings before the Buckeyes broke out with a single run in the fifth. Courtney Pruner singled to left center and moved to second on Hillman’s bunt single before scoring on a RBI single down the right field line from Spears.
Penn State put up a bit of a fight in the top of the sixth with two hits that put runners on first and second, but Rebecca Schultz made the unassisted out at third to close out the inning.
In the first at-bat of the inning, Marder took a 2-2 pitch and launched it over the center field wall to give Ohio State the 2-0 lead and secure her place in the record books, breaking Kristine Himes’ record 41 set during the 2000-03 seasons.
Bodeker struck out five and did not allow a walk, while assisting on five outs, in her 13th complete game of the year. The Nittany Lions scattered five hits, as she improved to 16-4 on the season.
UP NEXT: The Buckeyes await NCAA Tournament selection as an at-large team. The 64-team field will be announced at 10 p.m. Sunday live on ESPNU. Stay tuned to OhioStateBuckeyes.com for postseason information as it becomes available.