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April 22, 2014

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COLUMBUS, Ohio – The Ohio State softball team officially enters the home stretch of its 2014 regular season when it hosts Penn State for a doubleheader on Wednesday at Buckeye Field. The first pitch of the opening game is slated for 4:05 p.m. Both contests can be seen live on BTN.

BUCKEYES IN A NUTSHELL
Ohio State returns home after losing three games at Nebraska last weekend. Despite the setbacks, junior Taylor Watkins had a solid weekend at the plate, going 4-for-7 (.571).

The Buckeyes are 20-23 overall and led offensively Evelyn Carrillo, who is hitting .356 with a team-high 29 RBI. Watkins checks in with a .351 average and she’s added a team-high 30 runs scored. Caitlin Conrad (.344, 27 RBI, 12 2B, 6 HR, .625 slugging percentage) and Cammi Prantl (.322, 12 2B, 5 HR, 23 RBI) are the other Buckeyes hitting over .300.

In the circle, junior Olivia O’Reilly has gotten the majority of the work this season, checking in with a 9-8 record and 3.15 ERA in 111.0 innings pitched.

SCOUTING THE NITTANY LIONS
Penn State comes to Columbus with an overall record of 14-26 and a 5-10 mark in Big Ten play. The Nittany Lions were swept last weekend at home against Wisconsin, but prior to that had won eight of their last nine. At the plate, Lexi Knief leads the way with a .383 average, six doubles, six triples and 11 RBI. Teammate Kasie Hatfield checks in with a .345 average, a team-high 26 RBI and 12 doubles. In the circle, Marlaina Laubach leads the way with a 9-12 overall record, 3.32 ERA and 64 Ks.

ON THE AIR
Wednesday’s doubleheader can be seen live on the Big Ten Network. Lisa Byington will handle play-by-play duties while Garland Cooper will provide color analysis.

FOLLOWING FROM HOME
Live updates will also be available on the team’s official Twitter account, @OhioState_SB. Additionally, a link to live stats for each game can be found on the calendar tab of OhioStateBuckeyes.com.

ALL TIMES SERIES VS. PENN STATE
The Buckeyes and Nittany Lions have met 77 pervious times with the Buckeyes holding a decisive 48-29 advantage. Last year in Columbus, Ohio State swept a three-game series from Penn State, winning by scores of 2-0, 16-7 and 4-3.

THE LAST 15
A look at the Buckeyes’ the top performers over the last 15 games:

Taylor Watkins – .413, 9 R, 10 RBI, 2 HR
Evelyn Carrillo – .378, 12 RBI, 2 HR
Cammi Prantl – .372, 13 RBI, 6 2B, .721 SLG%
Keelia Nester – .333, 7 R, 1 2B

Top pitchers:
Olivia O’Reilly – 5-6, 3.79 ERA, 40 K

CAREER RECORDS WATCH
Melanie Nichols, a fifth-year senior, is looking to work her way up the career record books for wins and strikeouts. In 2010, she made an instant impact as a freshman, going 21-3 with a 1.92 earned-run average of a team that advanced to the NCAA Tournament. Nichols redshirted in 2011 while recovering from an injury and returned in 2012 to start 25 games (12-9, 3.45 ERA, 82 K). In 2013, Nichols went 6-2 with a 3.05 ERA and 51 Ks. Currently, she ranks sixth in all-time in wins (43) and sixth in strikeouts (303).

Career wins
1. Kim Reeder (2006-09)………….. 77
6. Melanie Nichols (2010-pres.)… 43

Career Strikeouts
1. Jamee Juarez (2004-07)……… 747
5. Genice Turley (1994-95))……. 307
6. Melanie Nichols (2010-pres.). 303

In addition, senior Evelyn Carrillo is also climbing her way up the career lists in hits and runs batted in. The senior from Corona, Calif., has played in 200 career games and currently ranks 11th in hits (198), just nine shy of 10th place. Her 143 RBI are good for fifth place.

Career Hits
1. Anna Smith (1999-02)………… 243
10. Megan Schwab (2004-07)….. 207
11. Evelyn Carrillo (2011-pres.).. 198

Career RBI
1. Sam Marder (2007-10)……….. 191
4. Courtney Pruner (2006-10)…. 158
5. Evelyn Carrillo (2011-pres.)…. 142

IN THE BIG TEN STATS
A look at where the Buckeyes stack up amongst their Big Ten counterparts:

Batting average…………….. 6th, .282
Runs……………………………. 7th, 193
Hits……………………………… 6th, 310
RBI……………………………… 6th, 180
Doubles………………………… 2nd, 66

Big Ten-only games:
Batting average…………….. 4th, .309
ERA……………………………. 8th, 5.33
Runs……………………………… 6th, 71
Hits……………………………… 4th, 115

Additionally, several individuals rank among the Big Ten leaders – Evelyn Carrillo is eighth among all players in Big Ten-only batting average (.432) and is 14th in all games. Caitlin Conrad is 10th in the conference in slugging percentage (.625) and 10th in runs scored (33). Olivia O’Reilly is 11th in opposing batting average (.239).

THE CANNON CREW
Ohio State’s outfield of Caitlin Conrad, Cammi Prantl and Taylor Watkins have been dubbed “The Cannon Crew” (TCC) partly because the first letters of their first names spell TCC and also because they have combined for 11 outfield assists thus far. The group is also lethal at the plate:

Caitlin Conrad .344, 27 RBI, 6 HR, 12 2B
Cammi Prantl .322, 23 RBI, 11 2B, 29 R
Taylor Watkins .351, 32 R, 27 RBI, 4 HR

Collectively, the group is hitting .339 with 72 RBI, 92 runs scored, 31 doubles, 11 stolen bases and 15 home runs.

LAST TIME VS. PENN STATE
Ohio State 2, Penn State 0
Highlighted by two solo home runs by a pair of juniors, the Ohio State softball team shut out Penn State, 2-0, Friday in game one of a three-game series at Buckeye Field. Evelyn Carrillo and Melissa Rennie scored the lone two runs of the contest on solo shots in the bottom of the fourth to help the Buckeyes improve to 24-14 overall and 4-6 in Big Ten play.

Alex DiDomenico improved to 10-6 overall, collecting her fifth complete-game shutout of the season. She tossed seven innings, limiting the PSU bats to four hits with four strikeouts. Overall, Ohio State outhit the Nittany Lions, 7-4, in the contest.

In the fourth, Carrillo led off the Buckeye at bat with a solo home run to center field vs. Jones. Rennie then tomahawked a 2-1 count over the left center field wall to make it 2-0 in favor of the Scarlet and Gray. DiDomenico stranded two runners in the top of the fifth after she got Reina Furuya to fly out to Watkins in center.

Ohio State 16, Penn State 7
Ohio State notched a season-best nine runs in the first inning and added a run in the third and six in the fourth en route to the victory. Cammi Prantl went 2-for-3 with two RBI and a season-high four runs scored, Melissa Rennie was 2-for-3 with a double, two runs scored and three RBI, while Maddy McIntyre had three RBI and two walks. Caitlin Conrad posted a home run, two RBI and two runs scored. Alyson Mott notched her first-career triple and a career-best two RBI, while Leesa Gresham and Evelyn Carrillo each had a double.

In the circle, Ohio State relief pitcher Kasie Kelly improved to 5-2 overall, tossing 4.2 innings with six hits, five runs and two walks.

Ohio State 4, Penn State 3
Caitlin Conrad posted the game-winning play on a sacrifice fly to center field in the bottom of the eighth, allowing senior Megan Coletta to cross the plate as Ohio State completed a three-game sweep of Penn State with a 4-3 victory.

After Penn State went 1-2-3 in the top of the eighth, Coletta, a native of Fullerton, Calif., sent a first pitch to center field for a lead-off double. She was then advanced to third on a sac bunt by Melaina Saalfeld to set up the game-winning score by Conrad.

A MARKED IMPROVEMENT
Several Buckeyes are enjoying significant statistical improvements at the plate from 2013 to 2014, including senior Melaina Saalfeld, junior Caitlin Conrad and sophomore Jayla Saibene.

Player……………………………………..         2013       2014       Diff.
Caitlin Conrad…………………………..         .285        .344        +.059
Melaina Saalfeld……………………….         .193        .242        +.049
Jayla Saibene……………………………         .214        .253        +.039

PLAYING THE BEST
The Buckeyes’ non-conference schedule will once again test Ohio State against some of the nation’s elite. In all, OSU will play at least 16 games against teams that qualified for last year’s NCAA Tournament, including eight against squads that advanced to the Women’s College World Series. Additionally, Ohio State plays 15 games against teams either ranked or receiving votes in the NFCA/USA Today Preseason Top 25 poll. Nine of those games are against Top 10 teams.

EXPERIENCED COACHING STAFF
Ohio State’s coaching staff of Kelly Kovach Schoenly, Amanda Buchholz, Jenna Hall and Megan Coletta has 36 years of combined experience either playing for coaching in the Big Ten. Kovach-Schoenly was four-year starter at Michigan and was an assistant coach for nine years at Penn State. Buchholz was a starting shortstop at Nebraska from 2000-03 and a volunteer assistant coach with the Cornhuskers for six years as a volunteer assistant. Hall played at Illinois for four years and is the school’s all-time leader in career and single season batting average. Coletta wrapped up her four-year playing career with the Buckeyes last spring.

OHIO STATE/PURDUE NOTES
• Despite losing two of three games, Ohio State outscored Purdue, 12-6
Cammi Prantl hit a team-best .444 over the weekend with a double, two RBI and a .500 on base percentage.
Olivia O’Reilly limited the Boilermakers to just 10 hits over 17.2 innings.

O’REILLY EMERGES AS THE ACE
Junior Olivia O’Reilly is enjoying a season for the Buckeyes as she leads team in every major pitching category, including wins (nine), ERA (3.15), strikeouts (73) and complete games (nine). Two weeks ago, she pitched 25.2 innings and gave up just six earned runs while registering three complete games and two shutouts.

PACKIN’ THEM IN
A season-high crowd of 1,598 filled Buckeye Field on Sunday, marking the largest home crowd in at least 10 years. The top attendance figures in that span:

4/13/14 vs. Purdue…………….. 1,598
4/11/09 vs. Illinois……………… 1,277
4/7/12 vs. Michigan……………. 1,217
5/19/07 vs. Cal State Fullerton 1,175
5/2/12 vs. Iowa…………………. 1,147
5/9/09 vs. Penn State…………. 1,105

OHIO STATE/INDIANA SERIES NOTES
• The Buckeyes’ top four hitters (Conrad, Watkins, Prantl, Carrillo) combined to go 21-for-41 (.512) with seven doubles, three home runs and 18 RBI.
• As a team, Ohio State hit .386 in the series.
• 13 of Ohio State’s 34 hits vs. the Hoosiers were for extra bases.

BUCKEYES’ BATS COME ALIVE VS. MSU
Ohio State’s offense posted several impressive numbers in its Big Ten-opening sweep of Michigan State. As a team, the Buckeyes hit .432 with 38 total hits, nine doubles, one triple and five home runs. Additionally, several players enjoyed big weekends, including:

Evelyn Carrillo…….. .700, 2 HR, 6 RBI
Cammi Prantl…….. .600, 3 2B, 6 runs
Keelia Nester……… .571, 1 HR, 3 RBI
Caitlin Conrad .455, 5 RBI, 1 2B, 1 HR

RETURNING STATISTICAL LEADERS
Entering the 2014 season, Ohio State returns eight of its top 10 hitters and all five of its pitchers. In total, 79.1 percent of its RBI total returns, 77.6 percent of its runs returns, 87.5 percent of its stolen bases and 82.2 percent of its total bases return.