April 21, 2002%^$
%^$COLUMBUS, Ohio – In its final home conference game of the year, the No. 22 Ohio State softball team rapped out 12 hits and five runs before holding off a late Illinois rally to defeat the visiting Illini, 5-2, Sunday at Buckeye Field and remain in contention for a Big Ten Championship. The Buckeyes improved to 44-9 overall on the strength of their 12th win in a row and 13-3 in the conference, one half game ahead of No. 12 Michigan (36-9, 10-3) and a full game up on No. 21 Iowa (29-16, 9-4), while Illinois slipped to 28-19 on the year with a 6-8 Big Ten record. Chrissy Fowler (Sr., Utica, Ohio/Wright State), Kristine Himes (Jr., Bolivar, Ohio/Tuscarawas Valley) and Jennifer Link (Jr., Yorba Linda, Calif./Sonora) led to OSU attack with 2-for-4 days at the plate while Katie Chain (Jr., North Canton, Ohio/Hoover) scattered eight hits over seven innings of work to pick up the win in the circle.%^$
%^$Both teams started three and out in the first inning before the Buckeyes broke a scoreless tie in the second. Stacy Roth (Sr., Wauseon, Ohio/Wauseon) led off with a single back to the pitcher on a slow roller and moved to second on a Fowler single to center. Both Buckeyes stole a base to put runners at second and third before each moved up one more on a sacrifice bunt by Kristi DeVries (So., Corona, Calif./Corona) on which Roth scored for a 1-0 lead. Fowler came in one batter later when Breana Pozzi (So., Petaluma, Calif./Casa Grande) singled up the middle to close the early scoring at 2-0.%^$
%^$OSU, following another UI three and out inning, added its third run of the game. With two outs, Roth reached on an error in right field and took second. Fowler delivered again, this time with a single to left, to bring in Roth for the second time in the game. The Buckeyes would collect two hits in the fifth but would not score again until the sixth. Meanwhile, the Illini had two on in the fourth but could not manufacture a run. UI would go three and out in the next two innings before scoring its first runs of the ball game.%^$
%^$Before that could happen, the Buckeyes added two insurance runs. With two out, Himes doubled to center and came around to score on an Annie Dedic (Jr., Yorba Linda, Calif./Fullerton JC) single back up the middle. Dedic moved to second on Link’s single to left and came home on an Anna Smith (Sr., Walnut, Calif./Diamond Bar) single up the middle to end the OSU scoring at 5-0. UI struck back in the bottom of the seventh two singles in a row to put runners on first and second. After a Chain strike out, Alicia Hammel singled to left center to drive in the first run and after another single, Sarah Baumgartner singled to center to bring in the final run for a 5-2 score. Chain struck out seven in the game including two in the seventh to move to 16-5 on the year.%^$
%^$OSU’s 12 game winning streak is the second longest for the team this year after it reeled of 13 from March 3-24 when the Buckeyes won the Buckeye Invitational (March 15-17) and the Georgia Tech Buzz Classic (March 22-24). The Buckeyes are two wins away from equalling the all-time wins record set last year when the team finished 46-18.%^$
%^$The Buckeyes return to action at 3 p.m. Wednesday with a non-conference doubleheader with the Wright State Raiders in Dayton, Ohio. OSU’s next home action will be at 6 p.m. Friday when the Ohio Bobcats come to Buckeye Field.