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May 8, 2014
Evanston, Ill. Sharon J. Drysdale Field
EVANSTON, Ill.; May 8, 2014 - A strong offensive performance from Ohio State proved to be too much for the Penn State softball team on Thursday afternoon as the Nittany Lions fell to the Buckeyes, 6-2, in the first round of the Big Ten Tournament. Sophomore Karlie Habitz (Newhall, Calif.) led the way for the Blue and White, posting a 2-for-3 effort at the plate with an RBI double.
The Nittany Lions (14-35) were outhit by the Buckeyes (29-24) eight to four and each team left five runners on base.
Junior Olivia O’Reilly pitched 6.1 innings for OSU to collect the win and move to 16-8 on the year. Taylor Watkins and Anna Kirk posted multi-hit performances for the Buckeyes, registering two hits apiece.
The Buckeyes wasted no time getting on the board, posting five runs in the first two innings. Caitlin Conrad drew a leadoff walk to open the bottom of the first and was driven in on the following at-bat, heading home on a Watkins double to left field.
OSU extended its lead in the bottom of the second, notching four runs on three hits and an error. A Reina Furuya (Waipahu, Hawaii) error put OSU leadoff hitter Melaina Saalfeld on base to start the inning. Kirk laid down a bunt to second base and Melissa Rennie advanced both runners with a sac bunt for the first out of the inning. Keelia Nester followed with a single through the left side to drive in Saalfeld. Conrad stepped up next and delivered a three-run bomb to right field, scoring Kirk and Nester to bring the score to 5-0.
The Buckeyes added their final run of the contest in the bottom of the fifth. Watkins sent a two-out single through the left side to set things up for Cammi Prantl, who ripped a double to left center to push Watkins across the plate.
The Nittany Lions responded with a pair of runs in the top of the sixth. Kasie Hatfield (Tampa, Fla.) reached on an error by O’Reilly to get things started. Maegan Tupinio (Wahiawa, Hawaii) entered to pinch run for Hatfield was sent in on the next at-bat at Habitz shot a double deep to center field. Taylor Abeyta (San Diego, Calif.) came in to pinch run for Habitz, advanced to third on an O’Reilly wild pitch and scored as Macy Jones (Ashburn, Va.) hit a foul fly to left field, cutting the deficit to four runs before the final out of the frame.
PSU kept Ohio State off the board in the bottom half of the inning but was unable to rally in its final turn at the dish, resulting in a 6-2 loss to the Buckeyes.
Thursday’s game was the final contest for Penn State seniors Hatfield, Alyssa Sovereign (La Canada, Calif.) and Liz Presto (Bethlehem, Pa.). The group combined for 79 hits, 37 runs, 37 RBI and 117 starts this season.
Ohio State advances to face second-seeded Nebraska in the second round of the tournament on Friday.