COLUMBUS, Ohio The No. 11-ranked and seeded Ohio State softball team scored five unanswered runs to overcome a four-run deficit to defeat Brigham Young, 5-4, in eight innings Friday afternoon at New Buckeye Field in the NCAA Regional. The win gives the Buckeyes a 46-9 record and the right to move into the regional final game at 1 p.m. Saturday against tonight’s game five winner.
BYU drops to 40-17 on the season and will play in game five tonight at approximately 8 p.m. vs. the winner of the Canisius vs. Kentucky game.
After the Cougars put up a 4-0 lead, the Buckeyes pieced together a comeback that ended with Leah Ledford scoring the game-tying run in the top of the seventh (Ohio State was the home team vs. BYU) and Dee Dee Hillman following with the what would stand as the game-winner in the top of the eighth.
“We’ve come back from big deficits before and I know how explosive we can be and how much heart this team plays with,” head coach Linda Kalafatis said. “You just have to be careful not to get too frustrated. If we coaches get frustrated and then our team will see that. We’re not trying to strike out up there. We are trying to fight and we fought enough at the end of the game.”
Kim Reeder relieved Lindsay Bodeker in the sixth and pitched three innings, earning the win and tying the Ohio State career wins record with her 76th and 25th this season. She faced eight batters, striking out three.
The Cougars went up 4-0 after putting a single run on the board in the second and stringing together a three-run rally in the fifth. Kristi Delahoussaye drove home two with a single to left that drove home two and cemented the four-run lead.
Ohio State immediately countered with three runs of its own in the top of the sixth, starting with a leadoff homer by freshman Alicia Herron that broke the Buckeye scoring draught with a shot to left field. Courtney Pruner and Tory Haddad followed with back-to-back singles that left them on second and third for Rebecca Schultz, who grounded out to third but gave Pruner enough room to come home for the 4-2 ballgame. Karisa Medrano, who entered as a pinch runner for Haddad, scored the final run of the inning when Hillman singled to the shortstop.
“We weren’t playing our best game in the beginning and BYU is great competition,” Herron said after the game. “At that point, we were coming around and I felt it. It was a matter of time for my hit and for us to bust open.”
Trailing 4-3 heading into the seventh, the Buckeyes dropped two quick outs, but came back to put runners on first and second for Rachael Shepherd, who promptly sent a single to left field that plated Ledford as a pinch runner for Pruner.
Reeder and the Buckeyes retired the side in the bottom of the seventh to force extra innings their fifth free softball event of the year and without hesitation, pieced together a run to pull ahead 5-4. BYU’s Christie Zinanti hit back-to-back Ohio State batters to put two on for Cooper who sent the ball into play for the winning run. Cooper reached on a fielder’s choice as the Cougars picked off Spears at second and Hillman advanced to third. She would go on to score off a throwing error by the BYU shortstop after she attempted to turn a double play.
With the Buckeyes holding the lead for the first time in the game, the Cougars went down in three for the second-consecutive inning and Ohio State came away with the win.
The Buckeyes will take the field at 1 p.m. Saturday in the regional final against the winner of the BYU vs. Canisus/Kentucky game. Watch the tourney field unfold by following Gametracker for all Columbus Regional games, linked from OhioStateBuckeyes.com.