COLUMBUS, Ohio – The Ohio State softball team split a midweek doubleheader Wednesday against Pittsburgh at Buckeye Field. The Buckeyes (10-21, 2-2 Big Ten) won the first game, 4-3, while falling short in the second game, 5-2, in their second home doubleheader of the 2011 campaign.
“I told the team that even though we lost the second game, I’ll take more good than bad out of it,” head coach Linda Kalafatis said. “Even though we gave up eight walks, we played well enough to give ourselves a chance at the end. Unfortunately, we didn’t have as good of bats to finish, but we started a rally and I’d take our three and four hitters again any day. They’ll come through for us more than not, but Pittsburgh is a solid team and did a little more than we did to earn the win in the second game.”
In game one, the score was tied, 3-3, headed into the sixth inning when the Buckeyes rallied to take a one-run lead and held on at the end for their first home victory of the season. Sophomore Julia Pecina had the clutch RBI single in the sixth inning when she lined a shot to right center field, scoring classmate Megan Coletta, who knocked a one-out triple off the right field wall during the previous at-bat. Also having a solid game at the plate was junior co-captain Alicia Herron, who went 1-for-2 with an RBI double, a run and a walk, while freshman Evelyn Carrillo was 1-for-3 with a two-run home run.
In the circle for the Buckeyes was senior Karisa Medrano, who improved to 5-10 overall on the season as she picked up her third-consecutive victory in her last three appearances for the Scarlet and Gray. She held the Panthers to three runs and struck out nine batters – one strikeout off her career high set earlier this season – to claim her fifth complete game in the circle.
In the top of the second, the Panthers took a 1-0 lead after second baseman Kristen Cheesebrew sent a 3-2 pitch up the middle for an RBI single as pinch runner Jessica Rhodunda scored on the play. Right fielder Yvette Bravo opened the inning with a single through the right side, while designated player Keli Gaynor knocked a double to left center to set up the scoring opportunity.
After a scoreless third, the Buckeyes posted three runs in the fourth to claim their first lead of the afternoon. After senior Brittany Goodchild walked, Herron lined an RBI double to right center with Goodchild rounding the bases to tie it, 1-1. The next batter, Carrillo connected on a 3-2 pitch over the center field wall to make it 3-1 in favor of the Scarlet and Gray – her fifth long ball of 2011.
However, the Panthers tied the game, 3-3, in the top of the fifth when third baseman Kelly Hmiel posted a two-out two-run home run inside the left field foul pole off Medrano with the wind gusting out at Buckeye Field.
But following the Buckeye rally in the sixth, Medrano was able to hold on for the victory with a strikeout with the tying run on second base.
In game two, after two scoreless innings, Pittsburgh scored one run in the third, three in the fourth and added a fifth run in the fifth inning and held off a late-inning Buckeye rally to claim the road victory.
Goodchild, a native of West Hills, Calif., made her first-career start in the circle for the Buckeyes and falls to 1-1 on the season, pitching 3.2 innings, allowing four runs and striking out three Pittsburgh batters. The OSU veteran got out of an early jam with a strikeout after loading the bases in the first inning. In the second frame, Pittsburgh was able to get runners on second and third after a single and a walk, but Goodchild stayed focused on the batters and ended the threat on a groundout to third base.
However, after retiring the first two batters in the third, Niki Cognigni homered off the left field foul pole to give the Panthers a 1-0 advantage in the runs column. In the fourth, the Panthers extended their lead to 4-0 when the Big East squad collected three hits and drew two walks to end Goodchild’s day in the circle. Medrano got the Buckeyes out of a bases-loaded jam with a strikeout.
The Panthers made it 5-0 after Reba Tutt posted a two-out double off Medrano, allowing pinch runner Krista Rodgers to score from second base.
The Scarlet and Gray erased the shutout in the bottom of the inning after the team loaded the bases with three-consecutive singles from freshman Melaina Saalfeld, sophomore Brittany Mills and senior co-captain Dee Dee Hillman.
Goodchild then sent a sacrifice fly to left field as Saalfeld plated the first Buckeye run of the evening.
In the final inning, Ohio State began its rally after Saalfeld walked and Mills reached on base following a throwing error by starting pitcher Alyssa O’Connell – who threw well for the Panthers in the circle to improve to 9-2 overall. With runners on second and third, Pittsburgh made a pitching change as Karlyn Jones came into the game for a save opportunity. Saalfeld scored the Buckeyes second run when Hillman posted an RBI single to make it 5-2. However, Jones struck out both Herron and Carrillo to end the game and claim the save.
Up next, the Buckeyes will host Illinois at 2 p.m. Saturday and 3 p.m. Sunday at Buckeye Field. The game Sunday will be televised live on the Big Ten Network.