Buckeyes Head To Las Vegas For Easton Desert Classic

Leesa Gresham
Leesa Gresham

Feb. 13, 2014


The Last Meeting
Long Beach State5
Ohio State10
February 18, 2012
Las Vegas, Nevada
Winning Streak At Desert Classic
Ohio State posted victories Saturday over UNLV and Long Beach State at the Desert Classic in Las Vegas

The Last Meeting
Ohio State1
Cal State Northridge6
March 19, 2011
San Diego, Calif.

COLUMBUS, Ohio – The Ohio State softball team will look to gain some early-season momentum this weekend when it heads to Las Vegas, Nev. for the Easton Desert Classic. Just like last weekend in Boca Raton, Fla., the Buckeyes will face a challenging slate, which includes five games in three days. On Friday, Feb. 14, Ohio State meets Cal State Northridge and Long Beach State. On Saturday, the Buckeyes take on No. 1/2 Florida and No. 10 Oregon before closing out competition on Sunday with a match-up with Utah Valley.

Ohio State is 1-4 after opening its 2014 campaign last weekend at the FAU Kick-Off Classic. The Buckeyes lost a pair of one-run, extra-inning games to teams that appeared in last year’s NCAA Tournament (Tulsa, Louisville).

On offense, Caitlin Conrad paced Ohio State by going 7-for-14 from the plate with five runs batted in, two home runs, three doubles and two triples. She was complemented by redshirt sophomore Erika Leonard, who hit .429 with a home run, two doubles and four runs batted in.

Junior pitcher Alex DiDomenico picked up OSU’s lone win of the weekend, going 6.2 innings versus Northern Illinois and scattering just four hits while striking out eight. She also had a strong outing against Tulsa, pitching 5.0 scoreless innings while striking out four. Redshirt senior Melanie Nichols had a no-hitter through five innings against Louisville before giving way to freshman Shelby Hursh in the sixth inning.

Cal State Northridge
2014 Record: 3-2
Last Weekend: Defeated Oregon State, Seattle and Colorado State at the Kajikawa Classic in Tempe, Ariz. Lost to Western Michigan and San Jose State.
Top Hitter: Abby Linn, .529, 2 runs scored; Katie Hooper, .438, 6 RBIs, 1 double
Top Pitcher: Brianna Elder, 1-0, 1.75 ERA, 16.0 innings pitched, 18 strikeouts

Long Beach State
2014 Record: 3-2
Last Weekend: Defeated Santa Clara, George Washington and Kent State at the Mizuno Invitational. Lost to Kentucky and Kent State.
Top Hitter: Ashley Holmes, .545, 2 home runs, 3 RBIs, 1.091 slugging percentage; Hannah De Gaetano, .500, 2 RBIs.
Top Pitcher: Amanda Hansen, 3-0, 1.62 ERA, 17.1 innings pitched, 16 strikeouts

2014 Record: 6-0
Last Weekend: Defeated South Florida, Illinois State, Wisconsin (twice), Michigan and Bethune-Cookman at the USF Wilson-DeMarini Tournament.
Top Hitter: Taylor Schwarz, .500, 2 home runs, 8 RBIs, 1 double, 1 triple
Top Pitcher: Lauren Haeger, 2-0, 1.08 ERA, 13.0 innings pitched, 18 strikeouts

2014 Record: 4-1
Last Weekend: Defeated Boise State, NC State, Appalachian State and Fresno State at the Kajikawa Classic in Tempe, Ariz. Lost to Cal Poly.
Top Hitter: Courtney Ceo, .579, 7 runs scored, 2 doubles, 1 triple, 4 RBIs.
Top Pitcher: Cheridan Hawkins, 3-1, 5.40 ERA, 16.2 innings pitched, 21 strikeouts, .127 Opp. BA

Utah Valley
2014 Record: 0-5
Last Weekend: Lost to Idaho State, Nebraska-Omaha, Weber State, UT Arlington and Nevada at the Red Desert Classic in St. George, Utah.
Top Hitter: Brianna Gatlin, .333, 1 RBI
Top Pitcher: Bailey Moore, 4.20 ERA, 10 strikeouts

The Buckeyes’ non-conference schedule will once again test Ohio State against some of the nation’s elite. In all, OSU will play at least 16 games against teams that qualified for last year’s NCAA Tournament, including eight against squads that advanced to the Women’s College World Series. Additionally, Ohio State plays 15 games against teams either ranked or receiving votes in the NFCA/USA Today Preseason Top 25 poll. Nine of those games are against Top 10 teams. Below is Ohio State’s all-time record against team’s currently in the nation’s power conferences, including the Pac-12, Big XII, Big East, SEC and ACC.

ACC: 25-30
Pac-12: 22-62
SEC: 22-37
Big East: 15-3
Big XII: 11-19

Melanie Nichols, a fifth-year senior, is looking to work her way up the career record books for wins and strikeouts. In 2010, she made an instant impact as a freshman, going 21-3 with a 1.92 earned-run average of a team that advanced to the NCAA Tournament. Nichols redshirted in 2011 while recovering from an injury and returned in 2012 to start 25 games (12-9, 3.45 ERA, 82 K). In 2013, Nichols went 6-2 with a 3.05 ERA and 51 Ks. Currently, she ranks tied for seventh all-time in wins (39) and sixth in strikeouts (277).

Career wins
1. Kim Reeder (2006-09) - 77
7. Melanie Nichols (2010-pres.) - 39

Career Strikeouts
1. Jamee Juarez (2004-07) - 747
6. Melanie Nichols (2010-pres.) - 277

Junior Caitlin Conrad was one of the highlights of the Buckeyes’ weekend in Boca Raton, Fla., hitting .500 with three doubles, two home runs and one triple over five games.

Against St. John’s, she hit a two-run home run to left center field that gave Ohio State a 3-1 lead in the fourth. The next day, she went 2-for-3 with a double, triple and two runs batted in as Ohio State knocked off Northern Illinois, 6-4. Against Florida Atlantic, Conrad put the Buckeyes on the scoreboard with a solo home run in the sixth inning.

Redshirt sophomore Erika Leonard, a Cincinnati native and transfer from Florida State, made her Buckeye debut by hitting .429 last weekend with a home run and four runs batted in. Her double in the first inning against Louisville have Ohio State a 2-0 lead.

Cammi Prantl, a second team All-Big Ten selection in 2013, made an instant impact for the Buckeyes last year. She led OSU in several offensive categories, including batting average (.346), at bats (188) and hits (65). Her name is littered throughout the single-season freshman records:

At bats: 3rd, 188
Batting average: 5th, .346
Hits: 2nd, 65
Doubles: 4th, 12
RBI: 7th, 31
Runs: 1st, 40
Stolen bases: 5th, 10

Fans can follow Ohio State softball on the web and through social media via the following outlets:

Website: OhioStateBuckeyes.com
Twitter: @OhioState_SB
Facebook: Facebook.com/OhioStateSoftball
Instagram: Instagram.com/ohiostate_sb

Additionally, links to livestats will be available on the calendar tab from the homepage of OhioStateBuckeyes.com.

Junior Taylor Watkins was named a Second Team NFCA All-Midwest selection by the National Fastpitch Coaches Association last spring.

Watkins, who has started all 107 games of her Buckeye career, was a key member in the Ohio State lineup, leading the squad in 2013 in runs scored (45), RBI (38), total bases (95) and stolen bases (17). She was second on the team in batting (.337), home runs (7), slugging (.534), walks (32) and on base percentage (.440). In each of her first two years as a Buckeye, Watkins has posted at least 60 hits, 30 runs scored and 20 RBI and has compiled a career average of .344 with 82 runs scored, 18 doubles, eight home runs and 61 RBI.

Entering the 2014 season, Ohio State returns eight of its top 10 hitters and all five of its pitchers. In total, 79.1 percent of its RBI total returns,   77.6 percent of its runs returns, 87.5 percent of its stolen bases and 82.2 percent of its total bases return.

Ohio State went 5-2 this past fall, highlighted by a 2-1 mark at the 2013 Ohio Collegiate Charity Classic, held Oct. 5-6 in Columbus. The event has raised more than $172,000 for the Stefanie Spielman Fund at Ohio State’s James Cancer Hospital and Solove Research Institute.

Ohio State 7, Kentucky 6:
Freshman pitcher Shelby Hursh struck out 10  batters after relieving Olivia O’Reilly in the circle in the third inning. In the bottom of the 12th, Leesa Gresham posted a walk-off single to left, scoring redshirt junior Kirstie Fehrenbach from third base. Fehrenbach reached third base after she ran out an infield single. She then advanced to third on a fielder’s choice.

Kentucky 6, Ohio State 0
In 5.2 innings of work, Melanie Nichols allowed six runs on five hits. She had five strikeouts with four walks.

Ohio State 4, Kent State 1
The Buckeyes erupted in the bottom of the fifth inning when Taylor Watkins hit a single to center field, advancing to the second base after teammate sophomore Cammi Prantl singled to left field. With one out and two runners on base, McIntyre tripled to right field, scoring Watkins and Prantl and giving Ohio State a 2-1 lead.

Ohio State 2, Kent State 1
Redshirt sophomore Erika Leonard hit a two-run home run over the left field wall to give the Buckeyes the 2-1 lead in the sixth inning. Pitcher Shelby Hursh closed out the game, securing the win for Ohio State after allowing a pop-up, one walk and notching two strikeouts in the seventh inning. Overall, Hursh allowed one run on two hits and had five strikeouts.

Akron 6, Ohio State 4
The Buckeyes tied the game, 4-4, in the bottom of the seventh to force extra innings, but the Zips were able to plate two runs in the top of the ninth to earn the win. Offensively, first baseman Evelyn Carrillo went 3-for-4 with a double, three RBI and a walk, while sophomore Cammi Prantl collected two hits and an RBI.

Ohio State 14, Northern Kentucky 1
Ohio State notched 11 hits vs. the Norse, highlighted by Anna Kirk, who was 2-for-2 with a walk, two RBI and one run scored. Leesa Gresham notched two hits and two runs scored. In the circle, junior pitcher Olivia O’Reilly earned the win, throwing five innings, allowing just two hits, one run with two strikeouts.

Four members of the Ohio State softball team, three current and one former, were named 2013 National Fastpitch Coaches Association All-America Scholar Athletes. Brittany Mills, who graduated last May with a bachelor’s degree in economics, was honored along with current Buckeyes Melissa Rennie (insurance major), Audrey Plant (communication major) and Olivia O’Reilly (biology major). The award is bestowed upon any player submitted by a member coach who achieved a 3.50 grade point average or higher during the 2012-13 academic year. Additionally, Rennie was also named a Big Ten Distinguished Scholar, which recognizes student-athletes with at least a 3.7 grade-point average.