COLUMBUS, Ohio – A three-run third inning fueled the Ohio State softball team as it staved off elimination by defeating Bucknell, 6-0, Saturday afternoon in the NCAA Regional at Buckeye Field. Alicia Herron and Sam Marder belted back-to-back solo home runs in the third as the Buckeyes (38-13) held on to face Kentucky in a second elimination game beginning at 5:30 p.m.
Bucknell concluded its season with a 28-20-1 record after making the program’s first appearance in the NCAA Tournament.
Ohio State threatened in the first and second innings, but left two runners on base in each. Herron led off the third with a shot to right center, however, tallying her 10th homer of the season and setting up Marder to produce a repeat performance. The senior captain sent her team-leading 18th homerun over the rightfield fence to give the Buckeyes the 2-0 lead.
With one out, Whitney Cooper singled through the left side to continue the inning and advanced to second on a ground out from the bat of Megan Coletta. The senior from Bairstow, Calif., found her way home when Vanessa Spears tallied her first triple of the season with a shot to deep right stretching the lead to 3-0.
The Buckeyes retired the Bucknell side in the bottom of the third, a feat the Bison returned in the top half of the fourth to keep the score at 3-0. The fifth inning produced more magic for Ohio State as it stretched the lead to 4-0 off a RBI single from Coletta that plated Katie Simonton as a pinch runner for Marder after the homerun hitter was walked to open the inning.
Now with runners on first and second, Courtney Pruner scored when Spears singled to right for her second RBI of the game and fifth on the day, giving Ohio State the 5-0 lead.
Bucknell pieced together its best attempt at scoring in the bottom of the fifth when it posted a pair of hits and placed runners on first and second before Megan Miller struck out Lauren Fry to end the charge. The Bison were shutout in their first NCAA appearance, falling by a combined 16-0 score in their two games vs. California and Ohio State.
The Buckeyes would go on to add an insurance run in the sixth. Dee Dee Hillman opened the frame with a single, advancing to second on an error by the Bison shortstop and scoring on Marder’s RBI single to left center.
Megan Miller pitched 5.0 innings, giving up four hits while earning her 14th win of the season. Karisa Medrano relieved Miller in the sixth inning and faced nine batters giving up two hits.
Ohio State will face Kentucky in an elimination game beginning at 5:30 p.m., the final contest of the day Saturday. The Buckeye-Wildcat winner will face California at 2:30 p.m. Sunday.