Abby Sweet / Lantern Photographer
Ohio State pitcher Melanie Nichols tossed a shutout against Nebraska Sunday at Buckeye Field to help the Buckeyes avoid being swept for the third straight weekend in conference play.
Nichols, a sophomore from San Jacinto, Calif., allowed three hits to the team with the third-ranked batting average in the Big Ten, while striking out four batters over seven innings. She said her thinking was just to do whatever she had to do to get outs.
“My mentality coming in today was just to beat ’em any way possible at their at-bats,” Nichols said. “Definitely get ahead, attack as much as possible. They’re really good hitters, so if I got ahead more often it would be more beneficial to me.”
While Nichols shut down the Cornhuskers at the plate, OSU’s offense helped her cause. In the bottom of the third, a sacrifice fly by sophomore first baseman Evelyn Carrillo scored a run and a Cornhusker error on a steal attempt brought in another for the Buckeyes, who took the lead, 2-0, after three innings.
OSU added two more runs in the sixth on a home run by junior third baseman Megan Coletta, and denied any chance of a rally by the Cornhuskers to win, 4-0.
The Buckeyes lost the first two games of the series on Saturday, 11-2 and 3-2, respectively. Senior shortstop Alicia Herron said losing both games on Saturday fueled the team to go out and take the sweep away in game three of the series.
“We wanted to just come in here and spoil it,” Herron said. “We just wanted to come back today and take one from them.”
Buckeye coach Linda Kalafatis said it has been rough during the part of the conference schedule where OSU has faced the three top teams in the Big Ten, noting they have lost several close games over that stretch. She said those games helped her formulate her message for the team on Sunday.
“Three one-run games that we were one big hit, one timely hit away from winning,” Kalafatis said. “I said, ‘Let’s be the team that gets that timely hit. Let’s be the team that gets that big hit.’ I’m proud of my kids for being able to be resilient and being able to bounce back.”
With the win Sunday, the Buckeyes move to 27-18 on the season and 6-8 in the Big Ten. OSU travels to Evanston, Ill., Saturday for a three-game series against Northwestern, with the first game beginning at 2 p.m.