Pickett's Grand Slam Guides Buckeyes Past Iowa, 8-4
May 9, 2013
LINCOLN, Neb. – With the bat of sophomore Shelby Pickett, the Ohio State softball team came back to win, 8-4, against No. 9 seed Iowa in the opening round of the 2013 Big Ten Softball Tournament Thursday afternoon in Lincoln, Neb. Pickett, a native of Temecula, Calif., launched her first career grand slam in the bottom of the fifth to help the No. 8 seed Buckeyes (34-21) advance in the first league conference tournament since the 2008 campaign.
Guided by first-year head coach Kelly Kovach Schoenly, the Scarlet and Gray will now face No. 1 Michigan at 3 p.m. ET in the quarterfinals at Bowlin Stadium. Ohio State improves to 8-8 all-time in the Big Ten Tournament.
“Shelby has been hitting great for us the last couple of weeks and so I was not surprised by her performance today,” Schoenly said. “Their pitcher was struggling to throw strikes and we told our hitters that the pressure was on her so we were looking for a good pitch to drive. We aren’t worried about playing a certain opponent. We are trying to be the best we can be every time we take the field and today things worked out for us.”
Offensively, Pickett posted a career-high four RBI, while junior Melissa Rennie and sophomore Caitlin Conrad each notched two hits, respectively. Overall, eight different Buckeyes crossed the plate vs. the Hawkeyes. In the circle, redshirt junior Melanie Nichols pitched two innings of shutout relief work to improve to 6-2 overall, allowing just one hit, no runs and two walks.
“I think going through the order the second time helps us,” Schoenly said. “I’d like us to improve the first time around but I give our girls a ton of credit for making adjustments at the plate.”
Down 4-1 heading into the bottom of the fifth, the Scarlet and Gray boasted six runs on three hits to take a 7-4 lead vs. Iowa starting pitcher Kayla Massey, who had a streak of nine-consecutive batters retired before the Buckeye rally. The big inning started following back-to-back singles by senior Megan Coletta and sophomore Caitlin Conrad, respectively. Massey then walked three-consecutive batters pushing pinch runner Brittany Mills and Conrad across the plate.
Pickett, a 2012 Third Team All-Big Ten selection, then cleared the bases on a 2-0 pitch as she was able to extend out the hands and send a hanging curveball over the right center field wall to make it 7-4 Buckeyes. The clutch hit was Pickett’s first career grand slam and fourth home run of 2013.
Ohio State added an insurance run in the bottom of the sixth when pinch runner Alyson Mott scored on a passed ball by relief pitcher Chelsea Lyon.
Iowa scored first in the top of the first with two runs after starting pitcher Kayla Massey knocked a one-out two-run double to right field vs. Ohio State starting pitcher Alex DiDomenico. The OSU sophomore limited the damage when she posted back-to-back strikeouts to leave two on base.
After DiDomenico stranded the bases loaded in the top of the second, Rennie cut the team’s deficit to 2-1 when she sent a hard line drive to right field vs. Massey with one down. The Iowa right fielder then misfielded the ball, allowing pinch runner Jesse Machovina to round the bases from first base to score. Machovina pinch ran for junior Leesa Gresham, who began the inning with a lead-off single up the middle.
But the Hawkeyes pushed their lead to 4-1 in the top of the fourth following an RBI groundout and RBI single against DiDomenico, respectively. One was unearned due to an Ohio State throwing error. Freshman Cammi Prantl stopped the Iowa rally when she threw out a runner at the plate on the RBI single by Megan Blank to keep it a three-score contest.
Ohio State went in order for the second-consecutive frame in the bottom of the fourth. Redshirt junior Melanie Nichols then came into the game to replace DiDomenico in the circle. She left one runner on base to keep it a 4-1 game. Nichols went on to limit the Iowa bats to one hit in the final two innings. DiDomenico received a no decision, throwing four innings, allowing four runs, three earned, six walks with five strikeouts.
Overall, the Buckeyes outhit the Hawkeyes, 7-3.