Dee Dee Hillman, Whitney Cooper went 2-4 at the plate

COLUMBUS, Ohio – In another cat-and-mouse game, the No. 14 Ohio State softball team (5-3) lost a heartbreaking 5-4 decision to No. 8/9 Alabama (5-2) Saturday afternoon in its first game of the day at the Hatter Invitational in DeLand, Fla.

Alabama opened the scoring in the bottom of the second with an unearned run after a throwing error extended the inning allowing Kayla Braud to bring home Courtney Conley on a single. Ohio State got itself out of trouble as Sam Marder picked off Braud attempting to steal third.

The Buckeyes retaliated with a three-run, three-hit inning in the top of the third. Sophomore Vanessa Spears started things off with a single through the leftfield gap and junior Dee Dee Hillman followed with a single to centerfield. Marder then banged a ball deep into left centerfield, scoring Spears while she advanced to second on the throw. On an Alabama throwing error by the second baseman, senior Courtney Pruner reached second while Hillman and Katie Simonton, pinch running for Marder, scored to give Ohio State a 3-1 lead.

The Tide tied things up, scoring twice in the bottom of the third. Cassie Reilly-Boccia singled and pitcher Charlotte Morgan doubled to put runners on second and third. Whitney Larsen brought one run in with a single to centerfield leaving runners on the corners before Alex Blewitt brought in Alabama’s second run in a fielder’s choice situation. Alicia Herron fielded the ball at shortstop and threw to second for the out while freshman pitcher Melanie Nichols ended the inning with strike out.

In the fourth, Ohio State took another one-run lead. Senior outfielder Leah Ledford singled to right field and was brought home as Hillman doubled down the right-field line. With two outs, Marder was intentionally walked for the 44th time in her career, but the Buckeyes would be left on base as Pruner grounded out to the second baseman. The Scarlet and Gray held strong in the bottom of the inning, as Nichols faced just four batters with three quick putouts.

Despite loading the bases in the top of the fifth, Ohio State was unable to again pull ahead of the Tide. In the bottom of the fifth, Alabama’s Boccia hit a leadoff home run, tying the game at 4-all and prompting the Buckeyes to bring in senior pitcher Megan Miller to replace Nichols after four innings of work.

After Miller walked her first two batters, she jammed Blewitt into a force out down the third-base line, holding the Tide to runners at first and second. But a wild pitch in the next at-bat would move both runners into scoring position with one out on the board. Gibson then hit a ball to Herron who partnered with Marder in a force out at home. With another pitching change, redshirt junior Lindsay Bodeker entered the game to face Jazlyn Lunceford who singled through the left side, bringing home the gamewinning run.

In four innings, Nichols fanned three batters while allowing six hits and three earned runs in her first loss of the season (2-1). In just 1.1 innings, Bodeker struck out three of five batters faced.  

Game Notes:
– Sam Marder has been put on base intentionally 44 times in her career. After hitting home runs in six-consecutive games, Marder’s streak was broken vs. Alabama Saturday.