The Ohio State softball team came into this weekend’s series against the Iowa Hawkeyes looking to turn around their fortunate after losing back-to-back series the previous two weekends. It was also the final 3 home games for seniors Mikayla Endicott, Alicia Herron, Vanessa Spears, and Katie Simonton. Here’s a recap of this weekend’s action.
Game 1 Iowa 2, Ohio State 0
Game one of a Saturday night doubleheader featured an old fashioned pitcher’s duel. Ohio State’s Mikayla Endicott faced off against Iowa’s Kayla Massey. Massey was able to pick up her 13 victory of the by out-dueling Endicott as the Hawkeyes squeeze out a 2-0 victory in a game that only lasted 90 minutes.
Iowa threatened early in the game when Johnnie Dowling lead off the game with a single and was moved over to second on Bradi Wall’s sacrifice bunt. Endicott was able to quickly shut down the early scoring threat with Dowling on second. She was able to get Megan Blank and Katie Keim to pop out in the infield to end the bottom of the first.
Ohio State’s first, and only, scoring chance came in the bottom of the second when freshman Shelby Pickett cracked a one out double to right. This would be the only hit that the Buckeyes would get off of Massey all game. Pickett then moved to third on Megan Coletta’s ground out to the pitcher. Massey then ended the Buckeye threat getting Malaina Saalfield to tap out back to the mound.
Both pitchers cruised into the sixth inning when Iowa was able to break the ice. Dowling lead off the inning with a bunt single and was followed up with a single by Wall. Both runners moved up into scoring position on a sacrifice bunt by Blank. Dowling scored on Keim’s groundout making it 1-0. Iowa picked up their second run of the inning when Herron dropped a soft liner off the bat of Liz Watkins scoring Wall. That proved to be plenty for Massey as she was able to get Ohio State to go quietly in the sixth and seventh giving the Hawkeyes the opening game win.
Game 2 Iowa 13, Ohio State 5
If softball games can have polar opposites, then game 2 Saturday night was exactly that. Game one only had 6 total hits between the two teams and there was no scoring until the sixth inning. Game Two featured 21 hits and scoring from the first inning on. Unfortunately for the Buckeyes, they came up on the short end falling to the Hawkeyes 13-5.
Ohio State kicked off the scoring in the bottom of the first. Taylor Watkins led of the inning with single. Vanessa Spears the laid down a sacrifice bunt, but Iowa pitcher Chelsea Lyon threw past first base allowing both runners to move up an additional base. After a Herron strikeout, Watkins scored on a groundout by Evelyn Carillo and Spears moved up to third. Spears then scored on a passed ball making the score 2-0. A heated visit by Hawkeye coach Marla Looper calmed Lyon down and she escaped without further damage in the first.
With momentum clearly on Ohio State’s side, Iowa quickly struck back in the top of the second. Katie Keim opened the frame up with a hard line drive double and that was followed up with a four-pitch walk to Liz Watkins. A Melanie Gladden single plated Keim for Iowa’s first run. With one out and runners on second and third, Malloree Grove hit a high pop foul down the left field line. Left fielder Vanessa Spears chose to let the ball drop instead of making the catch and this proved costly. Grove then singled to right-center scoring two runs giving Iowa a 3-2 lead. The Hawkeyes then scored three more runs after two outs. Instead of escaping the second with a 3-2 deficit, the Buckeyes were faced with a 6-2 hole after the second.
The relentless Buckeyes refused to give up though and scrapped their way back into it. They picked up one in the third and entered the 4 trailing 6-3. Shelby Pickett led off the fourth with a triple and was followed up with a strikeout by Megan Coletta. Then, on the first pitch of the at-bat, Leesa Gresham crushed a home run to left-center bringing the Buckeyes within one at 6-5. The home run was the first home run of Gresham’s career.
This would be as close as Ohio State would get. Iowa tacked on 7 more runs by scoring in each of the final three innings making the final score 13-5. Lyon picked up her 12 win of the season while the Buckeyes’ Melanie Nichols dropped to 11-9 on the season.
Game 3 Ohio State 2, Iowa 1
With Sunday being the final game of the three game set with Iowa, Ohio State looked to finish the weekend series on a high note and send the Buckeye seniors out with a victory in their final home game. Not only did they do that, but they did it in thrilling fashion.
In a rematch of starters from game one of the series, the Hawkeyes’ Kayla Massey and Buckeyes’ Mikayla Endicott put on another pitching clinic. After four scoreless innings of softball, the Buckeyes scratched out a run in the fifth. Taylor Watkins opened the inning with a bunt single and was quickly moved to third on a sacrifice bunt by senior Vanessa Spears. After a 10 pitch at-bat, another senior, Alicia Herron walked and the stole second. In the attempt to steal second, Herron got in a run down allowing Spears to score and then safely reached second completing the steal.
Things stayed that way until the top of the seventh. Hawkeye DP led the inning off by drilling a home run to left. The home run barely cleared the wall and narrowly escaped a fantastic effort of Spears to rob her of the home run but in the end it was a home run and tied the
game up at 1.
Ohio State started their half of the seventh off with a single by Taylor Watkins. They were able to load the bases after a Spears walk, a fielder’s choice by Herron, and another walk by Evelyn Carillo. With two outs and bases loaded, a Senior Day victory came down to a freshman. Catcher Shelby Pickett stepped to the plate and knocked a 2-2 pitch to center scoring fellow freshman Watkins to give the Buckeyes and thrilling 2-1 victory.
Endicott picked up the win on her final home game bringing her record to 17-13 for the season. Massey dropped to 13-11 with the loss. Ohio State now sits with a 29-22 record overall and a 8-12 record in the Big Ten. The Buckeyes will look to close out the season on an even higher note on the road at Penn State next weekend with a three game series.