LEESBURG, Fla. – It was a good day to be an Ohio State pitcher.
Buckeyes pitchers – sophomore Allison Smith and graduate student Lexie Handley – combined to strikeout 24 batters and allowed just two runs over 14 innings. The result was a pair of Ohio State wins: 1-0 over Butler and 4-2 versus South Alabama. The Buckeyes are now 5-0 on the young season.
Game One: Ohio State 1, Butler 0
With Smith in command, the only run of the game came across the plate in the bottom of the fourth inning when Sam Hackenbract popped a ball up to second base. The Butler fielder lost it in the sun and when it dropped in the infield, Melina Wilkison scored from third. She started the inning with an infield single to shortstop.
That’s all the run support that Smith would need. She tossed her first shutout of the season and finished it off in the seventh inning thanks to a timely defensive play from freshman Kami Kortokrax. After the Bulldogs got the lead-off batter of the inning on thanks to an infield single, Kortokrax went full extension to snag a line drive out of the air and double off the runner at first base for an inning-altering double play. One batter later, Smith got a 4-3 ground out to end the game.
Two of Ohio State’s four hits came from Wilkison, who finished two singles and also scored the game’s only run. Hackenbract and Jaycee Ruberti also had hits.
Smith’s 11 strikeouts set a new career high, topping her previous mark of nine last year at Illinois. She improved to 2-0 on the year.
Game Two: Ohio State 4, South Alabama 2
The story of game two came down to the dominance of Lexie Handley and a three-run fifth inning that busted open a close game.
Handley, who established a new career high with her 13 Ks, scattered just four hits and walked only one. She, like Smith, is now 2-0 on the season with two complete games.
The Buckeye bats finally awoke in the fifth inning when Ohio State scored three times on three hits and was aided by one South Alabama error. The key hits were a two-run double to left-centerfield by Melina Wilkison and an RBI double off the bat of Meggie Otte.
Ohio State’s 3-0 lead grew to 4-0 in the top of the sixth thanks to a sacrifice fly from Maria Rodriguez, which scored pinch runner Tegan Cortelletti, who came on after Avery Clark worked a lead off walk.
The Weather Report
It was hot for Florida on Friday. While the Buckeyes battled Bulldogs from Butler and Jaguars from South Alabama, it also endured the heat. While the Butler game was played under some welcome cloud cover, the afternoon games vs. South Alabama was in the heart of the day as temperatures soared into the mid-80s. The Sunshine State lived up to its name on Friday.
Ohio State continues play at The Spring Games in Leesburg, Fla. with another doubleheader tomorrow beginning at 1:30 p.m. The Buckeyes will face Liberty to open the day and then finish it off with a 4 p.m. contest against Stetson.
Live stats for all of Ohio State’s contests are available on the schedule page of OhioStateBuckeyes.com. The games are also being streamed live on FloSoftball (subscription required).