Buckeyes remain in third place in the Big Ten

COLUMBUS, Ohio – The No. 20/24 Ohio State softball team secured a Big Ten series sweep of Michigan State with a 7-3 victory Sunday in East Lansing, Mich. In game one Saturday, the Scarlet and Gray posted a 12-3 victory in six innings to move to 5-1 in conference play and remain in third place in the league standings.

The Buckeyes are now 26-11 overall while the Spartans fall to 18-21 overall and 4-6 in the Big Ten.

“We always try to caution the kids about not letting up against any opponent,” Linda Kalafatis, Ohio State head coach, said. “I think we’d like to replay that first inning but the team responded with some big shots.

“Michigan State made a few adjustments and came out playing hard but our kids kept scoring until we had enough runs on the board for the win.”

Michigan State did jump to a 2-0 lead in the bottom of the first, scoring two runs on two hits but Ohio State would come from behind, producing at least one run in the next four innings.

In the second, senior Sam Marder hit her team-leading 13th home run of the season and 56th career, a leadoff, solo homer to left center that cut the Spartan lead to one. In the bottom of the half, starting pitcher senior Megan Miller settled in and retired MSU in just four batters.

The Buckeyes had a big third inning, recording four runs, including a three-run home run by sophomore shortstop Alicia Herron. Hitting well like they did the day before, senior Rebecca Schultz, who went 2-for-3 on the day, laid down a single through the left side before junior Dee Dee Hillman, who went 2-for-4 at the plate, hit an RBI single to bring the first baseman home from second. Then senior Whitney Cooper joined Hillman on base with a walk before Herron, who went 2-for-4 on the day, delivered her sixth homer of the year to clear the bases and make it a 5-2 game.

Ohio State added a single run in the fourth with Schultz again singling down the left-field line before junior Brittany Goodchild ripped her first triple of 2010 to score the Buckeye runner. With the score at 6-2, Michigan State was able to cut OSU’s lead to three in the bottom of the stanza, getting its leadoff hitter on with a single and bunting her over to second. After a Buckeye fielding error put runners on first and second, freshman Kylene Hopkins hit an RBI single to bring in an unearned run before Ohio State was able to secure a final out.

Cooper would score the team’s last run of the game in the fifth, coming home on a Marder sacrifice fly for the 7-3 final. After reaching first on an error, Cooper advanced to third on a Herron double, her team-leading 13th of the season, bringing up Marder.

Miller earned the win, her career-high 10th victory of the season, behind four innings of work. As both a sophomore and junior, Mill recorded nine wins for Ohio State with her senior year marking her first 10-win season. Freshman Melanie Nichols came in for relief, finishing out the final three innings for the save. She allowed just two hits while striking out four.

Ohio State returns to the field for a Big Ten home doubleheader vs. Indiana starting at 5 p.m. Wednesday at Buckeye Field.