April 18, 1999
East Lansing, Mich. – The Ohio State softball team (13-24 overall, 2-11 in Big Ten) lost to the Michigan State Spartans (30-14 overall, 4-3 in Big Ten), 6-5, in an extra-inning affair that saw the two teams combine for 25 hits.
“This was a great softball game,” head coach Linda Kalafatis said. “I’m proud of the way this team hung in there. We played well in all three games this weekend and the series could have easily gone our way. With the adversity this team has faced all season, its nice to see them focus and play hard.”
The Buckeyes got on board in the top of the first inning. Anna Smith (Fr., Walnut, Calif.) started the OSU offense with a one out base hit and then proceeded to steal second base. Stacy Roth (Fr., Wauseon, Ohio) followed with a single to centerfield to score Smith and give OSU the 1-0 lead.
In the bottom half the inning, the Spartans answered with a run off two hits.
The two teams continued to match each other in the second inning. With a full count, leadoff hitter Renae Weigel (Jr., Coldwater, Ohio) belted a home run over the left-centerfield wall to give OSU a short lived 2-1 edge. In the bottom half of the inning, MSU answered again with a run off five hits.
“She gave me a good pitch to hit and I made solid contact,” Weigel said. “I’m very disappointed we lost. We played well but not enough to win. I give them credit, they stepped up when they needed to and got the clutch hits.”
In the bottom of the fourth inning, the Spartans took their first lead of the afternoon when Carrie Fry singled home Laura Dinger.
The Buckeyes reclaimed the lead in the top of the fifth inning. With one out, Cheryl Palaroan (Sr., Reno, Nev.) singled and stole second base. Smith immediately followed with a single to move Palaroan to third base. On the next pitch, Smith stole second to set up Roth one more time. On a 1-0 pitch, Roth blasted a double off the left-centerfield wall to clear the bases and give OSU a 4-3 lead. She finished the game going 3-for-4 with three runs batted in. In the top of the sixth inning, the Buckeyes added another run by executing a double steal with Holly English (So., Akron, Ohio) on third base and Carrie Vanderpool (Sr., Corona, Calif.)on first base. OSU was a perfect 5-for-5 in stolen bases for the game.
In the bottom half of the inning, MSU put their backs to the wall and responded. With two outs, the Spartans proceeded to load the bases on three consecutive infield singles. On a 2-2 count, Shaelee Dunavan lined a double down the rightfield line to score two runs and tie the game at five.
The two teams went into extra-innings after a scoreless seventh. With one out in the eighth inning, Stacey Phillips singled home Carrie Fry to win the game.
For the Buckeyes, Smith finished the game going 2-for-4 and scored twice. Weigel chipped in with a 2-for-3 performance.
“I’m finally feeling better after my injury,” said Smith who missed most of the last two weeks with a bruised calf muscle. “It’s nice to be able to contribute to the team both offensively and defensively. It stinks that we lost, but the team played good and we can definitely build off this weekend.”
Inside the circle, Toni Hileman (Jr., Alliance, Ohio) pitched 5.2 innings in relief and was charged with the loss. She is 5-18 on the year. MSUs Erica Strutz pitched a complete game and improved to 22-8 for the season.
“Our record is very deceiving,” Palaroan said. “With all the injuries we have, we know we are still a talented group. When Toni comes out and throws like she did this weekend, we feel like we can go toe-to-toe with any team.”
The Buckeyes return home to play host to Butler on Tuesday at 3 p.m in a doubleheader.