Softball: Buckeyes fall to Hokies in 9-inning pitching showdown

The Lantern
Ohio State graduate pitcher Lexie Handley (00) points to the catcher during a game. Credit: Courtesy of Ohio State Athletics

Ohio State’s first game of the Carolina Classic was a pitcher’s duel, with the Buckeyes coming out on the losing end.

Ohio State (7-2) lost in extra innings to Virginia Tech (9-2) Friday behind an elite pitching showcase by Hokies’ senior righty Keely Rochard and Buckeyes’ graduate lefty Lexie Handley.

The Buckeyes did not get their first hit until the seventh inning, with Rochard being perfect until that point. Ultimately, the winning run was scored in the top of the ninth, and the Buckeyes could not respond.

Both Handley and Rochard had 1-2-3 innings for the first two frames, and Handley ended up budging first.

Freshman infielder Bre Peck singled to shortstop in the top of the third to be the first runner on base for the Hokies. She then advanced to third following a passed ball and a groundout. However, with a runner 60 feet from scoring, Handley got a pop out to end the inning.

Sophomore infielder Cameron Fagan led off the fourth with a single through the right side before Handley pitched three-straight strikeouts.

The Hokies threatened once again in the seventh, with junior infielder Kelsey Bennett reaching on a fielding error. Sophomore infielder Addy Greene came in to pinch run for Bennett and advanced to second on a wild pitch. Handley kept the inning under control with two flyouts and a strikeout to end it.

The only sign of life from the Buckeyes’ offense came off the bat of senior outfielder Meggie Otte, producing a single up the middle. However, she was left stranded and the game was forced to go into extras.

The eighth inning was perfect for both pitchers. Handley got two flyouts and a line out, while Rochard struck out all three batters she faced.

Fagan led off the ninth inning with a single, then moved to second as a result of a sacrifice bunt by junior utility Jayme Bailey.

Senior catcher Mackenzie Lawter proved to be the offensive hero for the Hokies, driving in Fagan with a double to right field, which turned out to be the winning run.

Ohio State did string together some hits in the bottom half of the frame, giving it a legitimate chance to make a comeback.

Junior outfielder Tegan Cortelletti started things off with a single to left field. Junior utility Taylor Pack pinch hit for junior infielder Mariah Rodriguez and also reached on a single.

Freshman outfielder Melina Wilkison moved the runners with a sacrifice bunt. However, with runners on second and third, the Buckeyes could not drive them in, ending the game on a groundout.

Rochard was virtually unhittable, striking out 17 Buckeyes on the day, a new season-high for the senior, and only giving up three hits and zero walks.

Handley took her first loss of the season, giving up four hits, one walk and one run, while striking out six.

The Buckeyes return Saturday with a doubleheader against South Carolina (8-2) and Troy (9-2) starting at 3:30 p.m. The game against the Gamecocks will be livestreamed on SEC Network +.

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