No. 14 Ohio State drops 7-1 decision to No. 8/9 Alabama Sunday morning

COLUMBUS, Ohio – In the third meeting in three days, the No. 14 Ohio State softball team (6-4) suffered a 7-1 loss to No. 8/9 Alabama (7-2) Sunday morning to finish second at the Hatter Invitational in DeLand, Fla. In the previous two-meetings, the Buckeyes and Crimson Tide played tiring back-and-forth games with Alabama sneaking in the gamewinner late in the contest.

“It wasn’t our best effort and against a team like Alabama, you are not going to get away with that,” Linda Kalafatis, Ohio State head coach, said. “We really respect Alabama because it is a good program but we are a little banged up so we were not able to come out with our best.”

In the championship game of the Hatter Invitational, the Crimson Tide jumped out to a 4-0 lead through two innings before the Buckeyes were able to deny Alabama a shutout with a run of their own in the top of the third. Ohio State has been shutout just once in its last 41 games dating back to March of 2009.

Junior Dee Dee Hillman, who batted .474 this weekend, started things off for the Buckeyes in the third with a single down the third-base line before she stole second, her first steal of the year. In 2009, Hillman led OSU with 17 stolen bases. Senior catcher Sam Marder hit an RBI single to centerfield for the score, her team-leading 13th RBI this season. Alabama then replaced Charlotte Morgan, who allowed five hits and one run in 2.1 innings, with Kelsi Dunn on the mound. Dunn went the distance for the Tide, allowing just one hit and striking out eight in the remaining 4.2 innings.

In the fourth, Alabama tacked on another two runs to make it a 6-1 game as redshirt junior Lindsay Bodeker would conclude her day on the mound for Ohio State after allowing five hits and three earned runs.

In the fifth, senior pitcher Megan Miller would face four batters and allow another Tide run before freshman pitcher Melanie Nichols, who tweaked her knee against Alabama the previous day, came in to record the final two outs. In the final 1.2 innings, Nichols would not allow the Tide a hit, striking out one and walking two.

Senior Courtney Pruner went 3-3 at the plate Sunday and led the squad on the weekend, batting .529. At the invitational she recorded nine hits, four runs and three RBI. Hillman also had nine hits while scoring four runs and posting two RBI.

The Buckeyes jump back into action next Friday at the Cathedral City Classic in Palm Springs, Calif. Ohio State plays two Top 25 teams at the classic in No. 4/7 UCLA (10:30 a.m. Sunday) and No. 19/17 Fresno State (10:30 a.m. Friday). The team also will play Tennessee and Oregon State on Saturday at 12:30 p.m. and 3:30 p.m., respectively, before played Cal State Fullerton at 8:30 a.m. Sunday.

Game Notes:
– Ohio State was a perfect 6-6 when attempting to steal bases this weekend. In nine tries this season, no Buckeye has been picked off. Katie Simonton is a perfect 3-3.
– Sam Marder had her second-consecutive four home run weekend and has eight on the year and has 51 in her career.