COLUMBUS, Ohio – The Ohio State softball team lost, 7-2, against Iowa Sunday afternoon to close its first home series of the 2011 campaign. The Buckeyes (7-20, 0-2 Big Ten) were down early against the Hawkeyes (18-12, 2-0 Big Ten) and could not recover as Iowa scored three runs in the first and four runs in the third to claim their second conference victory of the season.

“I thought Karisa came into the game and threw well for us today,” head coach Linda Kalafatis said. “Alicia had a good day at the plate and has been solid for us all year. She has battled all season and it looks like she is getting her swing back.”

Offensively, Ohio State was led by junior co-captain Alicia Herron, who went 2-for-2 at the plate with a solo home run – her fourth long ball of 2011. She now has claimed a team-high 11 multi-hit performances this season.

For the Hawkeyes, catcher Liz Watkins continued her hot bat, going 1-for-3 at the plate with a home run and three RBI. First baseman Stephanie Ochoa was 2-for-4 with a run, designated player Johnnie Dowling was 2-for-3 with two runs and second baseman Katie Keim was 2-for-4 with a run.

Iowa starting pitcher Kayla Massey had a solid outing vs. the Scarlet and Gray, limiting the Buckeye bats to four hits in seven innings of work to improve to 9-4 overall. Freshman pitcher Kasie Kelly was in the circle for Ohio State to begin the contest and receives the loss to fall to 3-5 overall, allowing five hits and four runs in two innings. The native of Wooster, Ohio, also struck out three Iowa batters.

The Hawkeyes didn’t wait to take an early lead as the team went ahead, 3-0, in the first inning. With two outs, Watkins sent a 1-0 pitch opposite field just over the right center wall for a three-run home run off Kelly.

Ohio State answered with a run in the first when Herron unleashed a two-out solo home run to dead center to make it 3-1.

In the second inning, an unusual play occurred while Iowa was at the plate. Right fielder Brianna Luna sent a home run over the center field wall to put her team up by three runs again, however, the umpire called her out on the play when she missed the bag rounding second base. Kelly then ended the inning on a groundout and strikeout as the official score on Luna’s at-bat was a single and unassisted put out by the second baseman.

The Buckeyes closed the gap to 3-2 in the bottom of the second. Freshman catcher Melissa Rennie began the rally with a single to center field. Sophomore third baseman Megan Coletta then reached base on a fielder’s choice. On the play, the Iowa third baseman had a throwing error to second base as she tried to get the force out, allowing Rennie to advance to third and Coletta to second base.

Freshman second baseman Melaina Saalfeld then claimed an RBI after grounding out to second, While Rennie scored Ohio State’s second run. However, the Buckeyes could not keep its momentum going as Massey ended the OSU rally with a groundout.

Iowa broke the game open in the fourth inning. After Keim lead-off the inning with a double, the Buckeyes went to freshman pitcher Audrey Plant in the circle. Following a hit-by-pitch on Dowling, shortstop Chelsea Carmody singled through the right side to make it 4-1. After Ohio State decided to intentionally walk Watkins to load the bases, left fielder Michelle Zoeller came up with a three-RBI double to right center to make it 7-2. She was tagged out on the play as she got caught in the run down between second and third base.

Ohio State could not put any rally together in the latter part of the game as Massey was in the zone in the circle, retiring eight-consecutive OSU batters at one point in the contest. Senior pitcher Karisa Medrano relieved Plant in the circle and threw 3.1 innings, allowing no runs on four hits. Senior Brittany Goodchild also had some relief work as she came into face Watkins twice and denied the Iowa hitter twice with a groundout and strikeout.

Iowa had a 12-4 advantage in hits, while the Hawkeyes left six runners on base and Ohio State stranded five runners.

The Buckeyes will continue Big Ten play next weekend as the team travels to Minneapolis to face Minnesota April 2-3.