Courtesy of OSU athletic department
In what is becoming a recurring theme this season, sophomore pitcher Alex DiDomenico had a masterful outing for the Ohio State softball team (24-14, 4-6) that brought the Buckeyes a 2-0 win against Penn State Friday night at Buckeye Field in Columbus.
Yielding only four hits on the evening, DiDomenico struck out four Nittany Lion batters and recorded her fifth complete game shutout on the year.
DiDomenico, though, said that she wasn’t concerned about her statistics during the game.
“I don’t really think about getting shutouts or getting how many strikeouts,” DiDomenico said. “If I do that it kind of messes me up. I just took it batter-by-batter and just calmed myself out there and had to stay focused.”
Her effort was aided by a powerful offensive explosion in the fourth inning as the Buckeyes crushed two home runs within a three batter span to break a scoreless tie. Junior first baseman Evelyn Carrillo started the fireworks with a drive to straightaway center. Then, after an out, junior catcher Melissa Rennie tomahawked one over the left-center wall.
“My at-bat before (a strikeout), I was ahead on the ball,” Rennie said. “So, I decided to get up on the plate and scoot up in the box and just sit on it. I was waiting for something belt high that I could drive, and (Penn State freshman pitcher Macy Jones) put it there, and I just swung at it.”
The two solo bombs were all the runs the Buckeyes would score, and with the way DiDomenico was pitching, it was all they needed.
Besides during the fourth inning, OSU struggled offensively for most of the evening, especially with the changeup presented by Jones.
Both Penn State and OSU took turns stranding runners on base in the first three innings, including Penn State wasting a bases loaded, zero-out situation in the third. DiDomenico responded by forcing consecutive fielder’s choice groundouts to home, and then induced a foul-out to quell the threat.
Penn State’s offense stayed hot, starting the fourth with a lead-off double, but DiDomenico quickly retired the rest of the inning in order.
The Nittany Lions stranded two more runners on second and third in the fifth inning, and never got closer to scoring after that.
During practice Thursday, OSU coach Kelly Kovach Schoenly had stressed the importance of Buckeye hitters adjusting early to the Penn State staff.
“We have to adjust to the different styles quickly, and not wait around until the third at-bat to do it,” Schoenly said.
Her words paid off in the fourth inning.
“It feels really good when the offense does that,” DiDomenico said. “It makes you feel like, not secure, because you never want to feel secure, but it makes you feel good to know that you have an offense that can hit the ball. It makes you feel more relaxed when you pitch.”
While DiDomenico praised Rennie for helping her run-support, Rennie talked about DiDomenico’s skill for affording OSU hitters the security of knowing they have a shut-down pitcher.
“That’s a big game changer,” Rennie said. “When she’s on, she’s on. She’s unstoppable and it just relaxes you in the field, and you can play a lot more relaxed, and just go out there. It definitely helps a lot.”
Game two of the weekend series against the Nittany Lions is set for Saturday at 2 p.m. at Buckeye Field.