Tim Kubick / For The Lantern
The Ohio State softball team (27-14, 6-6) made quick work of the visiting Ball State Cardinals, blasting them, 8-0, in five innings at Buckeye Field Wednesday.
First-year OSU coach Kelly Kovach Schoenly stressed the importance of playing together as a team in practice Tuesday, and the Buckeyes responded with a near-complete offensive and defensive performance. Solid fielding, timely hitting and effective pitching – the norm when sophomore Alex DiDomenico is on the rubber – aided the Buckeye victory.
Freshman left fielder Cammi Prantl was the offensive catalyst for OSU, driving in four runs on two hits while DiDomenico yielded two hits and no runs in her sixth complete game shutout of the year.
“I really focused on driving the gaps and hitting the middle of the ball,” Prantl said. “Coach is really pushing me to hit more with runners on the bases, and that’s what I was focusing on.”
The OSU offense started off slow, but with the second turn of the lineup in the third inning, they began firing on all cylinders.
Prantl started the offensive fireworks by ripping a one out, two RBI double into the left-center gap.
Prantl scored later in the inning from third after a Ball State error on an OSU steal attempt at second afforded her time to advance home, bringing the Buckeyes’ lead to 3-0.
In the fourth, back-to-back singles chased Ball State freshman pitcher Kelsey Schifferdecker, who suffered her third loss of the season, out of the game. After Schifferdecker’s exit, OSU plated three more runs off an RBI sacrifice fly from sophomore center fielder Taylor Watkins and another two RBI hit from Prantl, making the score 6-0.
The fifth inning saw the game end on sophomore catcher Shelby Pickett’s walk off a two-run homer. College softball rules state the game is over if one team is down by eight or more runs through five innings of play.
“I don’t really know what was going on in my head,” Pickett said. “Everyone told me (Ball State redshirt junior pitcher Audra Sanders) was a little quicker, but she was not as quick as she looked, so I was just waiting on one I could hit.” Both sophomore shortstop Maddy McIntyre and senior third baseman Megan Coletta said in practice Tuesday OSU had to limit the power hitting of Ball State if they wanted to win, and DiDomenico did just that, running her record to 12-6 with the win.
Her teammates said it gives them confidence when they know DiDomenico is pitching.
“Alex is always lights out when she starts out really well,” Prantl said. “So it’s easier for us as batters when she starts out well.”
DiDomenico’s catcher knows better than anyone how run support can help her ace.
“I can always count on (DiDomenico), especially catching her,” Pickett said. “She makes it easy on me and I think she brings a lot of confidence to the team. She goes so hard, so it makes us go hard trying to hit and score for her.”
OSU is set to travel to Madison, Wisc., for a three-game weekend series with the Badgers, beginning Friday at 7 p.m.