LAS VEGAS Ohio State sophomore pitcher Megan Miller drew a tough assignment in her first career start on an opponent’s home field Friday night in Las Vegas. UNLV, which has been ranked as high as No. 18 this season, entered the game 13-3-1 at home in Eller Media Stadium in 2008, representing 17 of the Rebels’ first 24 games.
But Miller struck out four and scattered four hits in 6.1 innings, allowing only one run, to lead the 20th-ranked Ohio State softball team, which was held to one hit, past UNLV, 2-1. The Buckeyes are now 13-4, while the Rebels fall to 14-10-1.
Junior Kim Reeder, who tossed a complete game in the 7-0 win over Oregon earlier Friday, came on with one out in the seventh inning and got the final two outs for her first save of the season.
“We needed Megan to step up this weekend and if today is any indication, than she has certainly done that,” Linda Kalafatis, Ohio State head coach, said. “(OSU catcher) Sam Marder, who has caught Megan for years, said afterwards that was Megan’s best game. That was just what we needed. It was an ugly win but we did it on the strength of our pitchers.”
It marks the first time among available records (since 1998) that Ohio State won a road game with only one hit. Previously, the fewest amount of hits the Buckeyes had in a road win was two in a 1-0 win at No. 7 Cal State Fullerton March 2, 2003.
UNLV starter Heather Slettvet pitched into the sixth inning before being relieved by Stephanie Bregante. The duo struck out eight and allowed only one hit a sixth-inning single by sophomore Sam Marder. However, the two Rebel pitchers were plagued by four errors from their defense and they walked six batters.
Both teams were retired in order in their first at bat of the game but got a base runner to third base in the second inning. Solid defensive plays by both teams’ third-basemen got their pitchers out of the jam, however. UNLV’s Rosa Ordaz fielded a grounder hit by OSU sophomore Whitney Cooper and threw out OSU sophomore Tory Haddad at the plate, while Ohio State’s Rachael Shepherd spun toward the foul line to snag a grounder and threw across the diamond to notch the third out of the bottom inning.
Like she had done in the first inning, Miller set down the Rebels in order in the third and fourth innings. She allowed a single to Stephanie Bean to open the fifth inning and a sacrifice bunt got her to second, but senior Liz Caputo threw a frozen rope to the plate on a single up the middle and Marder swipe-tagged Bean with a whirl-wind reach just up the third-base line. Miller then struck out Caitlyn Paus to end the inning the Buckeyes had regained the momentum.
Ohio State’s run-scoring fifth inning began with one out when Cooper drew a full-count walk that included three foul-offs. She went to second on a sacrifice bunt by Shepherd and then scored from second on a two-base throwing error by Ordaz when Caputo slapped a grounder to her at third.
The Buckeyes added their second run in the top of the sixth inning when they again loaded the bases and Cooper drew a full-count walk to score Marder, who led off the inning with a walk. A UNLV error in the inning helped produce the unearned run.
UNLV scored its run in the bottom of the seventh inning. Miller induced a groundout to open the frame, but Stephanie Bean doubled to the wall in centerfield and Brittany Meade reached on an error to put runners at first and second with no outs. Reeder then entered the game and allowed a single up the middle to score Bean. Paus then lofted a bloop single down the left field line, but Meade had to remain near second base on the play and was then forced out at third base for the second out. A groundout to Shepherd at third ended the game.
Ohio State plays two games Saturday in the UNLV Invitational as the Buckeyes take on New Mexico State at 3:45 p.m. PT and Portland State at 8:15 p.m. PT.
Postgame Notes No. 20 Ohio State 2, at UNLV 1 … March 7, 2008
– The win Friday night marked the first time among available records that Ohio State won a road game with only one hit (see story). However, the Buckeyes won a home game last May with only one hit, defeating No. 23 Cal State Fullerton, 2-1, May 18 in Columbus in an NCAA tournament game.
– Ohio State is now 3-0 this season at night on opponent’s home fields (at Stetson Feb. 8, at Florida International Feb. 16).
– The Buckeyes are now 12-2 when they score first this season.
– Buckeyes at the plate: After having the game-winning RBI in the win over Oregon earlier Friday, sophomore Whitney Cooper was responsible for both OSU runs in the game. She walked and scored on an error in the fifth inning and walked with the bases loaded in the sixth inning.
– Buckeyes in the circle: Sophomore Megan Miller made her sixth career start Friday night, and drawing the assignment at UNLV marked her first true start on the road. Previously, four of her starts had been at neutral sites and one was a home.
– Junior Kim Reeder is now 5-for-5 in her career in save opportunities.
– Buckeyes in the field: Several candidates would be in the running for Ohio State’s defensive play of the game. Among them: Rachael Shepherd’s play on a grounder up the third base line in the second inning, pitcher Megan Miller’s catch of a line drive in the fourth inning and centerfielder Liz Caputo’s throw to the plate and catcher Sam Marder’s tag on a scoring attempt in the fifth inning.
– Ohio State has now gone a school-record 53-consecutive games without being shut out. The previous school record was 28-straight games.
– Ohio State is now 59-30 all-time when ranked.
– Weather: Clear and 57 degrees at first pitch. No wind.
– Ohio State and UNLV met for the third time in softball Friday. In their two previous meetings, the Rebels won 6-0 in 2005 and 2-0 in 2006, with both games played in Palm Springs, Calif.
– UNLV has seven starters and two pitchers back from its 2007 team that went 37-27 and finished second in the Mountain West Conference.
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