A game that began as a pitcher’s duel, turned into a battle of the bats in the final inning as Ohio State’s women’s softball team defeated Dayton, 3-2, on a chilly 48-degree night at Buckeye Field.
Senior pitcher Mikayla Endicott stifled the Flyer bats early on giving up only two hits through her first six innings of work. She finished with eight strikeouts and gave up only two runs on four hits. Endicott said she felt like she did a pretty good job of attacking the hitters from Dayton.
“I felt like I threw pretty well,” Endicott said. “I was mixing them up, keeping them off balance. I felt like I threw a pretty good game.”
In the bottom of the fifth, the Buckeyes scored the first run of the game when senior outfielder Vanessa Spears tripled to left center field and then scored on a past ball by Dayton freshman pitcher Kayla English.
The OSU offense had several chances to build a lead against the Flyers, but could not capitalize. The Buckeyes only managed three hits through the first six innings and left 10 runners on base during the course of the game. Twice the Buckeyes ended the inning with the bases loaded.
Coach Linda Kalafatis said the team has had some problems this year with hitting too many pop ups, and that has gotten them into trouble. OSU had 12 pop ups in the game, something that Kalafatis said needs to be fixed.
“I think it is some mentality,” Kalafatis said. “I think it’s commitment to making the adjustment. It’s been a little bit of a sticking point for us this year, so we need to continue to work on it and get better.”
After the pitchers controlled most of the game, the two respective offenses took over. On the first pitch of the seventh inning, Dayton freshman second baseman Jordan Jennings hit a home run over the left field wall to tie the game, 1-1. The Flyers added another run in the seventh on a sacrifice fly to take the lead, 2-1, for the first time in the game.
The Buckeyes wasted no time with their turn in the bottom of the inning. Spears lead off with a single and advanced to second on a wild pitch. After an intentional walk, sophomore first baseman Evelyn Carrillo hit a pop up to deep right center field allowing the runners to advance to second and third.
The next batter popped out to the third baseman, which meant OSU was down to its final out as Maddy McIntyre made her way to the plate.
The freshman second baseman said she was only thinking about one thing as she strode to the box.
“Hit the ball on the ground,” McIntyre said. “That’s it, keep the ball out of the air.”
McIntyre worked the count to 3-2 before hitting an English pitch back through the middle of the infield and into center field, scoring both runners and winning the game for the Buckeyes on a walk-off single.
McIntyre said some encouragement from a teammate helped give her confidence before her clutch hit.
“I saw (senior) Alicia (Herron) on second and she was cheering me on,” McIntyre said. “It was just comforting to see someone being positive.”
The win improved the Buckeyes record on the season to 24-14, including 5-0 at home against non-conference opponents. OSU is 12-2 all-time against Dayton.
The Buckeyes travel to Purdue this weekend for a three-game series with the Boilermakers, who are tied for second in the Big Ten with a 7-2 conference record. OSU is tied for fifth with a mark of 5-4. The teams will play a doubleheader Saturday with the first game beginning at 1 p.m.
Kalafatis acknowledged that Purdue is very good and that her squad has to be ready to play.
“Purdue’s a solid team,” Kalafatis said. “They’ve got a lot of speed throughout their lineup. Their gonna be quick, athletic, punch the ball around a lot and we’re gonna have to field the ball cleanly.”