March 8, 2014
COLUMBUS, Ohio – The Ohio State softball team erupted for 19 runs and 18 hits in victories over Massachusetts and Illinois State on the second day of the Red and Black Classic on the campus of the University of Louisville. With the wins, the Buckeyes are 8-10 overall this season.
Game One: Ohio State 13, Massachusetts 3
Taylor Watkins and Caitlin Conrad combined to drive in eight runs as the Buckeyes jumped out to a 7-0 lead in the first inning and never looked back, defeating the Minutewomen 13-3. It was the most runs Ohio State has scored in a game since a 14-6 win over Minnesota in April of 2013.
Ohio State’s seven-run first inning came on five hits. The biggest blows were a RBI double by Jayla Saibene and a two-run single from Watkins. Conrad and Erika Leonard also had RBI singles in the inning.
With a seven-run lead, starting pitcher Olivia O’Reilly settled in and registered four strikeouts in the first two innings. Ohio State tacked on a run in the second inning thanks to a sacrifice fly from Conrad and then added two more in the third thanks to a RBI triple from Watkins and a UMass error that allowed Watkins to score.
After UMass scored twice in the bottom of the third, Ohio State added three more run in the top of the fifth thanks to four hits and a Minutewomen error. Watkins hit a two-run home run to right field and Conrad laced a double to left center field, scoring Melissa Rennie.
Watkins went 3-for-3 on the game with five RBIs, a triple and a home run. Conrad was 2-for-3 with three RBIs. Seven different Buckeyes recorded at least one hit. On the mound, O’Reilly got the win, going five innings and giving up two earned runs with four strikeouts.
Game Two: Ohio State 6, Illinois State 5
A six-run second inning proved to be just enough offense for Ohio State, as the Buckeyes held on for a 6-5 victory over Illinois State.
After ISU scored twice in the top of the first, Ohio State answered by pushing six runs across the plate in the bottom of the second. With one out and the bases loaded, starting pitcher Melanie Nichols singled through the left side, scoring Conrad, who reach base via a walk. Rennie then followed with a RBI single to right field and Watkins doubled to right center, scoring Nichols and Melaina Saalfeld. Watkins scored what would turn out to be the game-winning run when she came home as Keelia Nester was caught stealing.
Illinois State cut the deficit to 6-3 on a solo home run to lead off the fifth inning and then scored twice in the sixth on a double and single in back-to-back at bats. Shelby Hursh, who came in to relieve Nichols in the fifth, worked out of the jam by getting two strikeouts and a fly out.
In the seventh, Illinois State had the bases loaded with two outs thanks to a walk to two errors, but Hursh got Stephanie Gallant to ground out to first base to end the game. It was Hursh’s second save of the season.
Nichols was the winning pitcher, going four innings and allowing three earned runs and five hits. Hursh pitched three innings in relief and allowed three hits while striking out two. At the plate, Watkins was 1-for-4 with two RBIs and a run scored.
Ohio State closes out competition at the Red and Black Classic tomorrow when it faces Massachusetts (10:00 a.m.) and Louisville (3:00 p.m.)