COLUMBUS, Ohio –The Ohio State softball team defeated Southeastern Louisiana, 4-3, in Saturday’s first game at the South Alabama Invitational, but the Buckeyes (3-6, 0-0 Big Ten) dropped a 7-6 decision in the nightcap to Tennessee-Martin at Jaguar Field in Mobile.

In game one, the Buckeyes were led offensively by senior co-captain Dee Dee Hillman, freshman catcher Melissa Rennie and freshman second baseman Melaina Saalfeld. Hillman tied her career high for hits in a game with four, while Rennie notched her first career three-hit game and Saalfeld hit her first career home run.  

In the circle for the Buckeyes was freshman Kasie Kelly, who had a solid outing against the Lions. The native of Wooster, Ohio, improved to 2-1 overall, throwing her first career complete game. Kelly allowed three earned runs, six hits and struck out three SLU batters in seven innings.

Ohio State got on the board in the bottom of the first. Hillman started things off with a single to left field and advanced to third following a ground out by Brittany Goodchild and a wild pitch by SLU’s Kati Morse. Following a walk to fellow co-captain Alicia Herron, the speedy Buckeye leadoff hitter stole home, while Herron stole second base to make it 1-0.

In the top of the second, the Lions tied it up with one swing. With one out, Megan McCollum hit a home run over the fence in left center to make it 1-1. However, the Buckeyes would regain the lead in bottom half of the inning with a long ball of their own.  

Following a single to the shortstop by Rennie, Saalfeld stepped up to the plate -just her third at bat of her young career. The native of Modesto, Calif., Saalfeld drove a pitch over the left center wall to give the Scarlet and Gray the 3-1 lead – the home run also was Saalfeld’s first collegiate hit.

Defensively, Kelly shut down the Lions’ offense in the following innings, allowing just two hits following the SLU home run through six innings. Southeastern Louisiana left three runners on base in both the fifth and six innings as Kelly worked her way out of both jams with a ground out and fly out.

In the bottom of the fifth, Ohio State added to its lead when freshman Leesa Gresham singled to left center with two outs, scoring pinch runner Alyson Mott from second base – her first run of her Buckeye career – to make it 4-1.

In the top of the seventh, the Lions scored two runs off Kelly and had the go-ahead runner on first with two outs, but the Buckeye rookie did not panic, sealing the victory with a ground out.

In game two,  the Buckeyes had a 6-3 lead, heading into the fifth but the Skyhawks rallied to score four unanswered runs in the top half of the inning and held on to the 7-6 win.

Ohio State was led by Herron, Hillman and Goodchild, who combined for eight hits for the Buckeyes. Rennie, a native of Wellington, Ohio, also homered in the game.

The Buckeyes scored first with a run in the bottom of the first. Following a leadoff single by Hillman, the OSU outfielder advanced to third base following a single by Herron and a ground out double play. With two outs, Hillman scored following a wild pitch by UTM pitcher Amanda Brandenburg.

The Skyhawks tied the game, 1-1, in top of the second with an RBI single by Laurie Lindow. However, Ohio State took its second lead of the game in the bottom half of the inning. Greshman doubled to left center and scored on a sacrifice fly to left field by Rennie to make it 2-1.

In the third, Ohio State added to their lead with three runs. Freshman Evelyn Carrillo roped an RBI single up the middle, scoring Hillman. Goodchild made it, 5-1, after driving a pitch down the left field line, allowing Herron and Mott to score.  

Tennessee-Martin cut the lead to 5-3 with a two-out, two-RBI home run by Megan Chesney in the top of the fourth inning.

With Ohio State at the plate, Rennie lead off the bottom half of the inning with a solo home run to dead center – her first long ball of her career – to give the Buckeyes a three-run advantage, 6-3.

But the Skyhawks wouldn’t go away. Buckeye senior pitcher Karisa Medrano came into the game in the top of the fifth for starting pitcher Melanie Nichols, but walked three UTM batters. Tennessee-Martin then struck back with a two-RBI single by Megan Latimer followed by a two-RBI double to left center by Lindow off freshman pitcher Audrey Plant to take a 7-6 lead after five innings.

The Buckeyes had an opportunity to regain the lead in the bottom of the sixth with the bases loaded, but Brandenburg got Carrillo to ground out to second base to end the OSU threat.  In the seventh, the Scarlet and Gray got a runner on, but the UTM pitcher was able to finish with the complete game win.

Nichols (0-1) gets a no decision in the game, pitching four innings, allowing three earned runs and struck out two batters, while Medrano (1-4) receives the loss, allowing three earned runs.

Up next, Ohio State will conclude play at the South Alabama Invitational at 11 a.m. Sunday against Evansville at Jaguar Field.