April 28, 2012
EVANSTON, Ill. – On a chilly day in Evanston, Ill., the Ohio State softball team defeated Northwestern, 6-2, Saturday afternoon at Sharon J. Drysdale Field. The Buckeyes (28-18, 7-8 Big Ten) claimed two runs in the first and four runs in the seventh vs. the Wildcats (19-26, 6-10 Big Ten) en route to their seventh conference win of 2012.
Sophomore Melanie Nichols had a solid performance in the circle for the Buckeyes, limiting the Wildcats to two runs in seven innings, while stranding 12 NU runners with three strikeouts. Nichols, a native of San Jacinto, Calif., improves to 11-7 overall in 2012.
Offensively, Ohio State was led by junior Megan Coletta and freshman Taylor Watkins, who each had two RBI, while junior Danielle LeBeau and senior Vanessa Spears both claimed two hits vs. the Wildcats. Senior captain Alicia Herron had two runs scored, while freshman Shelby Pickett notched an RBI single.
In the top of the first, the Buckeyes took a 2-0 lead following a two-run, two-out single by Coletta with the bases loaded against Wildcat starter Amy Letourneau. The bases were loaded after Spears singled, Herron walked and Carrillo singled to left field. In the bottom half, Nichols loaded the bases, but got out of the jam with her first strikeout of the afternoon.
The Buckeyes loaded the bases the following plate appearance after Watkins, Spears and Herron all walked to make the Wildcats have a pitching change with Sammy Albanese replacing Letourneau. But Ohio State left the bases full after Albanese got sophomore Evelyn Carrillo and LeBeau to both line out to end the top of the second.
In the third, Northwestern got lead-off hitter Emily Allard to third base, but Nichols stayed focused in the circle and got the Big Ten triple crown contender Marisa Bast to ground out to Herron to end the inning.
After Ohio State stranded one in the top of the fourth, the Wildcats threatened to get on the scoreboard with the bases loaded after two OSU fielding errors. However, Nichols battled in the circle and got Allard, the Big Ten leader in hits, to groundout to Herron to end the fourth.
In the top of the fifth, LeBeau posted the first hit for the Scarlet and Gray vs. the Wildcat reliever on a one-out single down the left field line. Junior Alyson Mott then pinch ran for LeBeau and moved to second on a wild pitch, but the Buckeyes couldn’t push her around to home plate to keep the score 2-0. In the bottom half, Nichols stranded two more Wildcat runners after Coletta made the heads-up play, going first-to-third to claim the double play to end the fifth.
After Albanese limited the OSU bats to one hit and no runs in the top half of the sixth, the Wildcats battled back to plate a run in the bottom half after Allard knocked a two-out RBI single to center to score Anna Edwards to make it 2-1. The run ended a scoreless streak of 13.1 innings pitched for Nichols. However, she maintained the OSU lead after ending the inning on a groundout to Herron, leaving two NU runners on base.
In the final inning, the Scarlet and Gray got the insurance runs they were looking for with four runs on three hits.
Herron and Carrillo both reached base safely after a walk and fielder’s choice, respectively, to begin the OSU momentum. Freshman Anne McGowan then pinched ran for Carrillo, while Northwestern made its third pitching change with Jenny Tyler in the circle. LeBeau notched the first run of the inning on an RBI single to center, scoring Herron followed by an RBI single by Pickett. Watkins then made it 6-1 on a two-out double to right field, scoring sophomore Melaina Saalfeld and Pickett.
Overall, Ohio State had eight hits, while Northwestern had nine hits.
The Buckeyes and Wildcats will conclude the three-game series with a doubleheader at 1 p.m. ET Sunday at Sharon J. Drysdale Field.
- With a single in the top of the first, Spears has reached base safely in six-consecutive games. She now has 10 multi-hit games in 2012 after going 2-for-3 with two walks.
- Herron crossed the plate for the 160th and 161st time in her career vs. the Wildcats and is just five runs shy off the program record held by Anna Smith (1999-02).
- With her two-run single, Coletta now has a career-high 21 RBI in 2012. She has six multi-RBI games in 2012.
- LeBeau claimed her ninth multi-hit performance of the year.
- With the Buckeyes’ fourth run, McGowan scored her first run of her career.
- Pickett posted her ninth RBI of the season after an RBI single in the top of the seventh.
- With a two-run double, Watkins has now claimed seven multi-RBI performances and has 23 RBI this season.
Buckeye Spotlight - Anna Kirk