April 13, 2002
IOWA CITY, Iowa – For the second game in as many days, the No. 25 Ohio State softball team used a solid pitching performance from its starter, as well as clutch home run hitting, to power the Buckeyes to a victory over No. 20 Iowa in Iowa City, Iowa, a place that has been traditional tough on the team. Kristi DeVries (So., Corona, Calif./Corona) belted the first home run of her collegiate career with one on in the bottom of the ninth inning at Pearl Field Saturday to give the Buckeyes a 4-2 victory and earn a series sweep over the Hawkeyes for the first time since OSU won four in a row in Columbus in the 1987 season. The Buckeyes improved to 36-9 overall and 7-3 in the Big Ten while the Hawkeyes slipped to 25-14 on the year with a 6-2 mark in conference.
“I was not on top of my game when I stepped in the circle,” DeVries said. “I knew I had a great defense behind me to help me out of the jam. The home run was great because she (pitcher Sarah Thompson) was pitching me inside and making me look bad. I was making contact with the ball and they were going foul. Before I got the plate, coach (Linda Kalafatis) told me all of our hits were to the right and told me to go there. I didn’t listen to her and hit left and it went out. It really felt great to get the home run because I thought it was foul. I was in shock because I didn’t expect it but it was great.”
The Hawkeyes opened the game at the plate as the visitors on their home field and went down in order as Katie Chain (Jr., North Canton, Ohio/Hoover) struck out the final two batters on the inning. OSU, the fourth-best hitting team in the nation (by batting average), got off to a hot start but had no runs to show for its efforts. With one out, Anna Smith (Sr., Walnut, Calif./Diamond Bar) reached on an infield single to second and advanced to third on a Wendy Allen (So., Moreno Valley, Calif./Moreno Valley) single to center. Allen was then thrown out trying to stretch the hit into a double. Smith could not score when Stacy Roth (Sr., Wauseon, Ohio/Wauseon) grounded out to third to end the inning. Over the next two innings, neither team could get its offense in gear with both squads going three-up and three-down.
The stalemate ended in the fourth with leadoff batter Kristin Johnson reaching on Chain’s first of two walks on the day. Johnson then stole second and scored when Big Ten Player of the Week Alicia Gerlach singled to right center. After a pop out, Liz Dennis singled down the left line to push Gerlach to second. On the next pitch, Gerlach had to dive back to second as Roth tried to gun her down from behind the plate. The throw caromed into center field to allow Gerlach to move to third, put runners on the corners and give Roth an error. The defense settled in a got a strike out and a fly out to end the threat. OSU could not respond and went down in order in the fourth, fifth and sixth innings.
Chain come out in the fifth gunning and sent all three batters back to the bench with a strike out. UI went three and done in the next three stanzas despite a lead off double in the top of the seventh. Dennis took the first pitch from Chain in the inning to the wall for a double. Pinch runner Carly Mortensen took second and three pitches later, was picked off by Roth on a dart to Jennifer Link (Jr., Yorba Linda, Calif./Sonora) at second.
With one out in the bottom of the seventh, Allen rapped a single off the shin of third baseman Katie Boney for single and the start of the Buckeye rally. Meghan Rowlands (Fr., Hilliard, Ohio/Bishop Ready) ran for Allen and moved to second when Roth’s attempted sacrifice bunt was fielded and the throw to first was dropped putting runners on first and second. Amy Ellis (Jr., Erie, Pa./Ball State) ran for Roth and moved ahead one base when DeVries reached first after hitting the ball through Boney’s legs at third allowing Rowlands to come home and the tie game. Kristi Hanks was then brought in to halt the rally but gave up a single to Sarah West (Sr., Galloway, Ohio/Hilliard Davidson). The hit went to left and the throw came home to try and prevent Ellis from scoring. The throw was in time and it appeared a tag was applied. Ellis slid around Elisha Huse and after it looked as if no tag was applied, Ellis scrambled to the plate to touch the plate where plate umpire Milt Hand called her out. Karisa Evans (Fr., Franklin, Ohio/Franklin), running for DeVries, and West were stranded and the Buckeyes went three and out in the eighth to move the game to the ninth.
With one out, Gerlach walked on four pitches and moved to second on Amber Morrow’s single to third. DeVries was given the ball and allowed two singles to left including an RBI single by Christina Schmaltz to give UI the 2-1 lead. With the bases loaded, Lindsay Bashor lined a shot to Link at second who in turn fired the ball to Kristine Himes (Jr., Bolivar, Ohio/Tuscarawas Valley) at third to complete a double play and escape the inning trailing by one.
The bottom of the ninth opened with Thompson returning to the circle Smith greeting her with an infield single. Allen then put down a sacrifice bunt to advance Smith to second. Roth then stepped up and doubled to right center to bring in Smith for the third tie in the game. With Roth standing on second, DeVries came to the plate and ended the game with one swing and a 4-2 win for the Buckeyes.
For the game, Smith, Allen and West each collected two hits while Chain struck out nine with two looking. DeVries got the win, her 13th on the year, on two-thirds of an inning pitched. Chain allowed four hits in 8.1 innings of work while DeVries gave up two.
Next up for the Buckeyes is a doubleheader at Northwestern Sunday which is slated to start at 1 p.m. EST in Evanston, Ill.