March 6, 2014


COLUMBUS, Ohio – The Ohio State softball team continues the non-conference portion of its season this weekend when it travels to Louisville, Ky. for the Red and Black Classic on the campus of the University of Louisville. The Buckeyes will face Massachusetts and Ohio on Friday, Illinois State on Saturday and Massachusetts and Louisville on Sunday.

Ohio State is 6-9 on the season after going 2-3 at the Diamond 9 Citrus Classic in Kissimmee, Fla. The Buckeyes defeated Bradley and Fordham on Saturday before falling to three ranked teams in the next two days – No. 23 Notre Dame, No. 1 Florida and No. 17/19 Missouri.

Offensively, Ohio State is led by junior Caitlin Conrad (.357, nine RBIs, five doubles, nine runs scored) and senior Evelyn Carrillo (.356, nine RBIs, four doubles). Erika Leonard, a transfer from Florida State, has also had an immediate impact, batting .333 thus far with a team-high 10 RBIs.

On the mound, three different pitchers have seen significant playing time – junior Alex DiDomenico, senior Melanie Nichols and freshman Shelby Hursh.  Among that group, DiDomenico leads in ERA (3.54) and has pitched a team-high 29.2 innings. Nichols, who pitched a complete-game shutout with a career-high nine strikeouts in a 1-0 win vs. Fordham on Feb. 28, has a 3.66 ERA with a team-high nine appearances. Hursh struck out six against No. 1 Florida on March 1.

Fans can follow all five of the Buckeyes’ games this weekend by accessing Gametracker on Links to live stats will be available on the calendar tab on the homepage of and the schedule page on the softball site.

2014 Record: 1-4
Last Weekend: Did not compete
Top Hitter: Quianna Diaz-Patterson, .375, one RBI, three runs scored
Top Pitcher: Caroline Raymond, 1-3, 4.30 ERA, 9 Ks

2014 Record: 12-6
Last Weekend: Went 0-5 at the Mississippi Gulf Coast Softball Classic. Lost to South Alabama, Chattanooga, Texas State, Louisiana-Lafayette and Mississippi State.
Top Hitter: Adrienne Gebele, .418, six doubles, 10 RBIs, two home runs
Top Pitcher: Savannah Jo Dorsey, 9-4, 2.17 ERA, 93 Ks

Illinois State
2014 Record: 6-13
Last Weekend: Went 1-4 at the Diamond 9 Citrus Classic. Lost to Auburn, Notre Dame, Missouri and Oregon. Defeated Nebraska-Omaha.
Top Hitter: Laura Canopy, .300, seven RBIs, one double, one triple, one home run
Top Pitcher: Regan Romshek, 5-6, 2.76 ERA, 34 Ks

2014 Record: 8-6
Last Weekend: Five games cancelled due to rain at the Louisville Slugger Invitational in California.
Top Hitter: Brittany Duncan, .394, three doubles, five RBIs, one home run
Top Pitcher: Rachel Le Coq, 2-3, 3.41 ERA, 34 Ks

The Buckeyes’ non-conference schedule will once again test Ohio State against some of the nation’s elite. In all, OSU will play at least 16 games against teams that qualified for last year’s NCAA Tournament, including eight against squads that advanced to the Women’s College World Series. Additionally, Ohio State plays 15 games against teams either ranked or receiving votes in the NFCA/USA Today Preseason Top 25 poll. Nine of those games are against Top 10 teams. Below is Ohio State’s all-time record against team’s currently in the nation’s power conferences, including the Pac-12, Big XII, Big East, SEC and ACC.

ACC: 25-31
Pac-12: 22-63
SEC: 22-40
Big East: 15-3
Big XII: 11-19

Melanie Nichols, a fifth-year senior, is looking to work her way up the career record books for wins and strikeouts. In 2010, she made an instant impact as a freshman, going 21-3 with a 1.92 earned-run average of a team that advanced to the NCAA Tournament. Nichols redshirted in 2011 while recovering from an injury and returned in 2012 to start 25 games (12-9, 3.45 ERA, 82 K). In 2013, Nichols went 6-2 with a 3.05 ERA and 51 Ks. Currently, she ranks sixth in all-time in wins (40) and sixth in strikeouts (290).

Career wins
1. Kim Reeder (2006-09) – 77
6. Melanie Nichols (2010-pres.) – 40

Career Strikeouts
1. Jamee Juarez (2004-07) – 747
6. Melanie Nichols (2010-pres.) – 290

Entering the 2014 season, Ohio State returns eight of its top 10 hitters and all five of its pitchers. In total, 79.1 percent of its RBI total returns, 77.6 percent of its runs returns, 87.5 percent of its stolen bases and 82.2 percent of its total bases return.

While the Buckeyes welcomed back a large amount of experience in 2014, they have also gotten a boost from several newcomers who are contributing both at the plate and on the mound. Erika Leonard, a sophomore transfer from Florida State, and Anna Kirk, a freshman from Groveport, Ohio, are hitting a combined .268 with 19 RBIs, 12 runs scored, five doubles and three home runs. Shelby Hursh, a freshman pitcher from Tipton, Ind., is 2-3 with a 4.13 ERA and has a team-high 24 strikeouts. She also had a no-hitter to her credit, the first by a freshman since 2001.

Senior Evelyn Carrillo was the biggest star for the Buckeyes from the plate in five games at the Easton Desert Classic in Las Vegas, Nev. she hit .615 (8-for-13) with seven RBIs, 11 total bases and three doubles. Against Long Beach State, she went 4-for-4 with three RBIs, two doubles and a run scored. The four hits matches her career high, which was last set last season against Purdue.

Ohio State’s coaching staff of Kelly Kovach Schoenly, Amanda Buchholz, Jenna Hall and Megan Coletta has 36 years of combined experience either playing for coaching in the Big Ten. Kovach-Schoenly was four-year starter at Michigan and was an assistant coach for nine years at Penn State. Buchholz was a starting shortstop at Nebraska from 2000-03 and a volunteer assistant coach with the Cornhuskers for six years as a volunteer assistant. Hall played at Illinois for four years and is the school’s all-time leader in career and single season batting average. Coletta wrapped up her four-year playing career with the Buckeyes last spring.

Cammi Prantl, a second team All-Big Ten selection in 2013, made an instant impact for the Buckeyes last year. She led OSU in several offensive categories, including batting average (.346), at bats (188) and hits (65). Her name is littered throughout the single-season freshman records:

At bats – 3rd, 188
Batting average – 5th, .346
Hits – 2nd, 65
Doubles – 4th, 12
RBI – 7th, 31
Runs – 1st, 40
Stolen bases – 5th, 10

Ohio State 5, Bradley 3
Evelyn Carrillo went 2-for-4 with an RBI and Melanie Nichols proved a key two-run single in the third inning as Ohio State knocked off Bradley, 5-3.

Ahead 2-1 entering the third, Carrillo doubled to center field, scoring Prantl to give OSU a 3-1 advantage. After Anna Kirk popped out to shortstop, Nichols came in to pinch hit for Keelia Nester and delivered a two-run single just over the head of the third basemen. Those two runs proved to be the winning runs, as pitchers Alex DiDomenico and Olivia O’Reilly combined to allow just one run the rest of the game.

Ohio State 1, Fordham 0
Nichols tossed seven shutout innings to earn her first win of the year while also striking out nine. Ohio State scored the game’s only run in the bottom of the first when Erika Leonard laced a double to right field, scoring Taylor Watkins.

From there, Nichols settled in and stymied every Fordham scoring opportunity. In the sixth, the Rams led off the inning with back-to-back singles. Nichols then struck out Gabby Luety and got Kayla Lombardo flied out to center field, but moved the lead runner to third base. From there, Nichols got Paige Ortiz to strike out looking and end the threat. Nichols struck out a career-high nine batters in the game, topping her previous mark of eight against St. Bonaventure on March 18, 2012.

No. 23 Notre Dame 3, Ohio State 1
Erika Leonard drove in the Buckeyes’ only run in the top of the first inning when she singled to the pitcher, driving home Caitlin Conrad, who reached after ripping a double to left center field. On the mound, senior Melanie Nichols went 4.2 innings, scattering just four hits while giving up two earned runs.

Notre Dame tied the game in the bottom of the fourth on an RBI single by Katey Haus. Nichols was able to avoid any further damage by getting Micaela Arizmendi to strike out with two runners on base. Notre Dame took the lead for good in the fifth on an RBI double by Emilee Koerner and an RBI single to left field by Karley Wester.

No. 1 Florida 9, Ohio State 1
The top-ranked Gators were able to break open a close game with six runs on four hits in the fifth inning. The biggest blow was a grand slam by Lauren Haeger off reliever Olivia O’Reilly to make the score 7-1.

Ohio State hung with the Gators for much of the game, tying the game on a RBI triple by Melissa Rennie in the second inning that scored Anna Kirk. From there, Shelby Hursh was able to stymie the potent Gator offense, keeping them off the scoreboard for the next two innings. In all, Hursh pitched 5.1 innings, allowing five hits while striking out six.

No. 17/19 Missouri 7, Ohio State 0
DiDomenico got the start for Ohio State and held the Tigers scoreless for the first two innings. In the third, Missouri led off with a walk, followed by a single from Sami Fagan. The biggest blow of the inning was a two-out, three-run home from Mackenzie Sykes, who went 2-for-4 on the day with four runs batted in.

Ohio State is 23-13 at Buckeye Field over the past two years, and in 2014 it will host 13 games on its home field. The home schedule includes:

Michigan State – March 21-23
Ohio (DH) – April 9
Purdue – April 11-13
Penn State (DH)  – April 23
Northwestern – April 25-27

Fans can follow Ohio State softball on the web and through social media via the following outlets:

Twitter: @OhioState_SB