April 9, 2005
EAST LANSING, Mich. – The Ohio State softball team scored a pair of runs in the sixth and seventh inning, but it was not enough to overcome a 6-0 Michigan State lead as the host Spartans went on to take a 7-4 win over the Buckeyes Saturday at Old College Field in East Lansing, Mich. After winning three consecutive Big Ten games, Ohio State is now 19-11 overall and 3-3 in the league, while Michigan State moves to 12-20-1 overall and 3-3 in the Big Ten.
With the loss, the Buckeyes conclude their season-opening six-game Big Ten road trip. It was just the second time in program history Ohio State played its first six conference games on the road. The Buckeyes and Spartans have split their season series each of the last three years after OSU won both games in 2001 and 2002.
The Buckeye-Spartan series this weekend marks a match-up of two of the Big Ten’s four career 500-win coaches in Ohio State’s Linda Kalafatis (555 wins) and Michigan State’s Jacquie Joseph, who won her 500th career game this past Wednesday.
“I’m disappointed with our effort today,” Kalafatis said. “We’re a better team than that but we didn’t show it. It’ll be nice to get back home after playing Big Ten games on the road for five-consecutive weekends going back to last year. I hope we can take care of business at home and bounce back from this.”
Ohio State’s first two runs came in the sixth inning when junior Billie Jo Carder (Celina, Ohio/Celina) smacked a two-RBI double, scoring freshman Brittany Vanderink (Hiram, Ohio/Crestwood) and Juarez, who had both singled. The Buckeyes added two more in the seventh inning when sophomore Christina Douglas (Mesa, Ariz./Dobson) and Vanderink both hit RBI singles. OSU sophomore Jamee Juarez (La Puente, Calif./Wilson) made the start in the circle for the Buckeyes for the seventh-consecutive game, but was chased by the Spartans in the second inning. She suffered the loss to see her record slip to 15-8 on the season. Juarez has been OSU’s pitcher of record in 12 of the last 13 games. Junior Chelsea Baker (Gahanna, Ohio/DeSales) relieved Juarez as Baker saw her first action in the circle sing March 6 in Ohio State’s 5-3 win over then-19th-ranked Georgia Tech at the Buzz Classic. Baker worked four innings before freshman Nicole Gragson (Long Beach, Calif./Wilson) pitched the final 1.1 innings for OSU in relief.
Sophomore Megan Schwab (Glendale, Ariz./Sunrise Mountain), senior Meghan Rowlands (Hilliard, Ohio/Bishop Ready)and Vanderink all finished with two hits for the Buckeyes.
Michigan State took a 3-0 lead in the top of the first inning when Elizabeth Peterson smacked a two-out, bases-leaded double and Janette Hurtado hit an RBI single. OSU centerfielder Meghan Rowlands (sr., Hilliard, Ohio/Bishop Ready) picked up Hurtado’s single and threw a perfect strike to catcher Stacy Hibma (jr., Buena Park, Calif./Valley Christian) to cut down what would have been another Spartan at the plate for the third out of the inning.
Michigan State put three more runners on base in the second inning, but Hibma picked off one Spartan at third base and Baker came on in relief of Juarez and induced a pop-up to shallow centerfield for the third out. Michigan State later added its fourth run in the fourth inning when Nicole Mercado, last week’s Co-Big Ten Player of the Week, singled and scored on an RBI single by Caitlin Mahoney. The Spartans added two more in the sixth and one in the seventh.
Ohio State will host Iowa (Apr. 15-16) and Illinois (Apr. 17, DH) next weekend as OSU plays its first Big Ten games at Buckeye Field in nearly a year. Ohio State last played a home conference game Apr. 18, 2004.