Feb. 6, 2015
COLUMBUS, Ohio – Junior Jayla Saibene hit a walk-off three-run home in the bottom of the eighth inning to lift the Ohio State softball team (1-0) to a season-opening 7-4 victory over Southern Illinois (0-1) on Friday in Charleston, S.C. Saibene’s home run capped a 4-3 come-from-behind win highlighted by four runs in the final inning.
Saibene went 1-for-3 on the day with three RBI while Taylor Watkins collected two hits, including a two-run home run in the third inning. Trailing 4-3 entering the bottom of the eighth, Keelia Nester scored the game-tying run on a RBI single from Watkins, setting up Saibene’s heroics.
Lena Springer made her Buckeye debut in the circle, getting out of an early two-on, one-out jam in the top of the first with a pair of groundouts.
In the bottom of the second, Maddy McIntyre led off the inning with a double and right center field, advanced to third on a groundout and eventually scored on a perfectly executed suicide squeeze by freshman Taylor White. The threat ended with White was thrown out attempting to steal second.
Southern Illinois threatened again in the top of the third on a two-out walk and single up the middle, but Springer got Brook Womack to pop up to Keelia Nester at second base.
Taylor Watkins was the first Buckeye to go deep in 2015, sending a two-out, 1-2 pitch in the bottom of the third over the right centerfield fence to give the Buckeyes a 3-0 lead. Caitlin Conrad, who had reached on a fielder’s choice, scored on the play.
Southern Illinois came back to tie the game in the top of the fourth on three two-out hits and a throwing error. Jessa Thomas started the rally with a double to right center, followed by a single up the middle from Marri Ann Patterson. Kalyn Harker was then hit by a pitch, and Shelby Hursh came on in relief of Springer. Gonzalez singled up the middle to make the score 3-2 and she eventually scored on a throwing error by Cammi Prantl. Meredith Wilson flied out to right field to end the threat.
Hursh thwarted a SIU scoring opportunity in the top of fifth when she struck out Sydne Jones and Prantl threw Caylee Cook out attempting to steal second. In the sixth, she struck out the side, all swinging. Southern Illinois scored a go-ahead run in the top of the eighth inning on a sacrifice fly.
The Buckeyes return to action tomorrow with two games in Charleston – vs. UMBC at 9 a.m. and Southern Illinois at 11 a.m.