ATHENS, Ga. In a scene all too familiar to a night ago, Courtney Pruner powered the offense for the 11th-seeded Ohio State softball team that gave it an early lead against sixth-seeded Georgia one that would be overcome by the Bulldogs with six unanswered runs for the 7-6 win in the best-of-three NCAA Super Regional series at UGA Softball Stadium. The Buckeyes end their season with a 47-11 record, the second-most wins in program history, while Georgia advances to the Women’s College World Series for the first time in its history with a 48-10 mark.
“I take my hat off to Georgia on a well-played two games and a successful season,” head coach Linda Kalafatis said. “One day, a given pitch can be a strike and on another, the other team can hit everything out of it. The latter happened today … I could not be more proud of this team, however, and everything it has accomplished this season. Kim Reeder ends her career as the most successful pitcher in program history and, along with Cortney Cannon, as the senior class with the most wins in their career.”
Pruner hit a grand slam, the first of her career, in the bottom of the first inning to give Ohio State a 4-1 lead. The junior from Akron, Ohio, who had a three-run homer vs. Georgia Thursday, now has 12 on the season and 26 for her career, moving to within three of taking over the No. 3 spot on the Buckeye career chart.
Reeder pitched herself into a jam in the top of the first inning, loading the bases with two walks and a hit batter to the first three Bulldogs in the order. A RBI single by Brianna Hesson then plated the lead runner and kept the bases full, but Reeder forced Georgia into a pair of pop outs and a ground out to end the inning.
As the designated home team, the early one-run deficit was quickly erased in the bottom half of the frame, however, as the Buckeyes loaded their own set of bases with a single from Dee Dee Hillman and two walks. With two outs, Pruner inherited the full slate and went down in the count 1-2 before launching a hard shot to left center for Ohio State’s third grand slam of the season and a lead it would hold on to until the top of the sixth.
Reeder returned to the circle in the top of the second and was lights-out, striking out the side and held on to shut the Bulldogs out again in the third, despite giving up a walk and a fielder’s choice.
The Buckeyes provided more run support in the third, putting two on the board to stretch the lead to 6-1. Tory Haddad belted a single to the left center field wall that plated Alicia Herron after the freshman shortstop reached on a walk to open the inning. Pruner followed with her second run of the game, scoring on an RBI double from Rachael Shepherd to secure the five-run lead heading into the fourth.
Georgia started its comeback in the fourth with an RBI single that plated one, closing the score to 6-2. That margin stood until the sixth when the Bulldogs exploded for five runs on five hits to take over the lead. Tori Moody hit a leadoff homer to center, igniting a three-hit rally that ended with a three-run shot to right by Taylor Schlopy to tie the ballgame with one out. Alisa Goler, who made two round-trips in game one Thursday, was intentionally walked and would go on to score on a double to left to give Georgia the lead after 5.5 innings of play.
The Buckeyes went down in order in the bottom of the sixth, but put runners on first and second in their half of the seventh, before falling victim to three-consecutive outs to end the game and season with the 7-6 score.
Stay tuned to OhioStateBuckeyes.com in the weeks to come for a recap of this history-making and record-breaking season. The 2009 squad broke countless team and individual career and season records in its run to the first-ever NCAA Super Regional appearance in program history.