EVANSTON, Ill. Alicia Herron tied and broke the freshman record for homeruns as the No. 11-ranked and Big Ten-leading Ohio State softball team blasted Northwestern, 10-1, in five innings Sunday afternoon at Sharon J. Drysdale Field. The win is the seventh in a row for the Buckeyes and 16th in the last 17 games, giving them a 42-7 record on the season and 14-2 in the conference. Northwestern falls to 29-13 overall and 12-6 in the Big Ten with the loss.
Herron launched a two and three-run blast in back-to-back at-bats, accounting for five of the team’s runs and giving her 11 round-trippers on the year. This breaks the previous record of 10 achieved by then-freshmen Sam Marder in 2007 and Kristine Himes in 2000 and, with the first one, also gave Ohio State its 55th homer of the season, breaking the team record for a single season. The 2002 team hit 54 through its 69-game season (.78 per game), while the 2009 Buckeyes are averaging 1.14 through 49 games. Courtney Pruner also sent one over the fence, tying the initial record record and continuing her career-long success over the Wildcats with a three-run blast in the second.
With the 7-6 win Saturday, the Buckeyes’ win Sunday gave them the first series sweep at Drysdale Field for Northwestern since the 2003 season when it lost to Minnesota in an April 20 doubleheader. The Buckeyes also handed the Wildcats their first Big Ten run-rule loss since the same date in 2002 when Michigan defeated them 11-1.
“I cannot give enough credit to Lindsay Bodeker and to our entire defense,” head coach Linda Kalafatis said. “Even though the win yesterday was wonderful, we knew there were things that the team needed to do better and I think for the most part that we did those things today. All of the homeruns were exciting, but it was really the way the defense played that enabled us to sweep Northwestern this weekend.”
In the circle, Lindsay Bodeker allowed three hits on zero walks and struck out three through five innings of work. Northwestern sent just 17 batters to the plate with only three reaching base. The lone Northwestern run came on a solo homer by Michelle Batts in the bottom of the second.
The Buckeyes scored five unanswered runs through the first two innings, highlighted by Pruner’s three-run homerun in the second inning. Whitney Cooper plated Marder for the first run of the game in the first inning with a bases-loaded single back to the pitcher. In the top second, Marder started off the four-run scoring spree with a sac fly to deep left field that gave Rebecca Schultz enough time to tag up and score from third, leaving runners on first and second. Pruner then cleared the bases with her shot into the right field bleachers.
Northwestern staved off the shutout with the homer to left in the bottom of the second, but Ohio State came back with two more runs in the top third with Herron’s first homer, sent to left that also scored Cooper after she reached on a single to start off the inning. With the 7-1 lead after three, the Buckeyes took the field in the fourth and grounded into two quick outs before Tory Haddad reversed their luck with a single to right. Cooper was hit by a pitch, putting two runs on base for Herron who quickly took advantage and sent a three-run shot to left that bounced off the building adjacent to Drysdale Field.
Holding the nine-run lead, Ohio State retired the Wildcat side 1-2-3 in the fourth and then got three quick outs in the fifth after the lead batter reached third on a double and a throwing error from the Buckeye outfield.
Northwestern’s Lauren Delaney pitched 2.1 innings, giving up seven runs on six hits and walking four before Jessica Smith entered the circle for the final 2.2 innings and three runs.
The Buckeyes return to action at 5 p.m. Wednesday with a doubleheader vs. Michigan. Ohio State and the Wolverines are currently tied for the top spot in the Big Ten after Michigan swept Iowa this weekend.