April 28, 1999
University Park, Pa. – The Ohio State softball team (17-28 overall, 3-15 in Big Ten) split a doubleheader with the Penn State Nittany Lions (29-19 overall, 10-8 in Big Ten), winning game one, 5-2 in 14-innings and losing game two, 9-3. Game one featured Cheryl Palaroan (Sr., Reno, Nev.) setting a school record with five hits in a single-game.
The first contest proved to be one of the more thrilling games of the 1999 season for the Buckeyes. In the top of the third, OSU struck first with a run off three hits – all coming with two outs. Anna Smith (Fr., Walnut, Calif.) started the attack when she sliced a double down the leftfield line. She moved over to third base on a Palaroan bunt single. Stacy Roth (Fr., Wauseon, Ohio) followed with a single to left to score Smith and give OSU an early 1-0 lead.
OSU added another run to its lead in the top of the seventh inning – again coming with two outs and again from the Smith/Palaroan/Roth combination. The speedy Smith came through again with her second two out hit of the game, this time an infield single. Palaroan moved Smith to second on a perfect bunt single. Roth came through in the clutch again with a double to rightfield to score Smith. OSU went into the bottom of the seventh with a 2-0 lead. But with their backs to the wall, the Nittany Lions rallied for a pair of runs to send the game into extra-innings. Jenny Briz singled home a run and a fielding error by Roth allowed a second run to score and send the game into extra-frames.
The two schools then played scoreless softball for the next six innings. But in the top of the 14th inning the Buckeyes finally broke through. Carrie Vanderpool (Sr., Corona, Calif.) led off with a single to leftfield. She immediately scored five pitches later on Toni Hilemans (Jr., Alliance, Ohio) double down the leftfield line. Smith followed with her career high fourth hit of the game, this one a single to rightfield, to advance Hileman to third. Smith advanced to second on a sacrifice slap by Palaroan to send Jaime Chenevey (Sr., Wooster, Ohio) to the plate. On a 0-2 pitch, Chenevey ripped a double to right-centerfield to clear the bases and give OSU a 5-2 win.
Of OSUs season high 16 hits, nine came off the bats of Smith and Palaroan.
“I didn’t know about the record until coach said something after the game,” said Palaroan on her OSU record five hits in a game. “I got a little lucky on some of the hits but I’m just glad the hits equated to wins. Thats all that really matters. (Starting pitcher) Toni (Hileman) deserves all the credit for the win. She pitched her heart out for us. Shes been doing it all year and its nice to come through for her.”
The old school record of four hits in a game was accomplished 13 times – the last coming on May 5, 1996 when Candace Kollen recorded four hits against Michigan State.
Inside the circle, starter Hileman (6-19) had perhaps the best performance in her two-year OSU career. She tossed an astonishing 182 pitches over the 14-inning span and gave up just one earned run to earn the win. She held Penn State scoreless for 13 of the 14 innings. In the seven extra-innings, she limited the Nittany Lions to just three hits. PSUs Tanis Ambelang (14-9) took the loss.
“Any game you win in the Big Ten is a good win,” head coach Linda Kalafatis said. “But this is a great win. You want to talk about guts and heart, look no further than Toni. When the going got tough, she got tougher. Throwing 182 pitches and shutting down a solid Penn State team is as impressive as a performance as you will ever see.
“It was a great softball game. Anna (Smith) and Cheryl (Palaroan) did a spectacular job in the top of the order. They really dictated the pace of the game. Combining for nine of our 16 hits is awesome. Those two really came to play against a really good Penn State pitching staff. They really could not find an answer from keeping those two off the bases. “
In game two, Penn State quickly avenged the game one loss.
OSU took a 2-0 lead in the bottom of the second inning on a two RBI double by Sarah West (Fr., Galloway, Ohio). But the Nittany Lions then scored seven unanswered runs over the next four innings to pull away from OSU.
The Buckeyes only other run of the game came in the bottom of the sixth inning on an RBI single by starting pitcher Samantha Kimura (Fr., Placentia, Calif.)
Kimura (4-2) took the loss for OSU. She went 5.1 innings and gave up eight runs (six earned). PSUs Jaci Kalp (11-8) won the game.
“It was a good series,” Kalafatis said. “Penn State came out and hit the ball in the second game and give them credit for bouncing back. We did some really good things as a team today and we can use today as momentum for this weekend against Northwestern.”
The Buckeyes will begin a three-game series on Saturday when they play host to the Northwestern Wildcats. Saturdays doubleheader will begin at 1 p.m.