May 12, 2007
COLUMBUS, Ohio - The Big Ten crowned a new softball tournament champion, as the Ohio State Buckeyes claimed its first title in school and conference history with a 2-1 win over Northwestern. It was only natural for the top two seeds in the tournament to meet in the final game and they hardly disappointed.
Ohio State came into the final game outscoring its opponents 20-3 on the weekend, but Northwestern along with Wildcat pitcher Eileen Canney wouldn't make it that easy on the Buckeyes. It took Ohio State all seven frames to finally plate the winning run as Canney pitched a smart game in the circle. The Wildcat hurler allowed only four hits and struck out eight Buckeye batters in 6.2 innings of work.
"I could get used to this," exclaimed Buckeye head coach Linda Kalafatis after her team mobbed Nycole Koyano and clinched their first tournament title.
OSU's Megan Schwab started off the seventh with a single to centerfield. The Buckeye leftfielder stole second and later advanced to third on Liz Caputo's single in the infield. With runners on first and third and two outs Koyano slapped down the third base side, scoring Schwab when the throw to first base was too high for NU first baseman Garland Cooper to bring down.
Juarez (20-8) picked up the win in relief for the Buckeyes, however, starting pitcher Kim Reeder held her own by pitching an impressive four-inning, one-hit performance herself. After Juarez replaced Reeder in the fifth, a rejuvenated Buckeye team fed off their ace. The senior pitcher, who splits time at third base as well, shut down the Wildcats in the remaining three innings, denying a Northwestern hit while striking out six.
It was the Wildcats who lit up the board first after they found themselves ahead 1-0 after one of most bizarre plays of the tournament. Northwestern broke through in the third inning when Katie Logan scored on her own lead off single. The hustling Wildcat advanced to third after her hit up the middle snuck under Buckeye centerfielder Liz Caputo. Logan then trotted home after an arrant throw careened into the Buckeye dugout and out of play.
A Buckeye runner hadn't made it to second base all game until the bottom of the fourth inning when OSU started a rally to tie the game at 1-1. Brittany Vanderink led off with a single to left field. Catcher Sam Marder followed with a hit of her own and reached first base on a fielder's choice after Vanderink was forced out at second. Marder advanced to second after an NU double-play attempt went out of the reach of Cooper. With a runner on second and two outs, Jamie Juarez evened the scored with a RBI single to center field.