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Ohio State returns 14 letterwinners from 2009 squad that ranked 12th at end of season

COLUMBUS, Ohio – The No. 14 has become a very significant number to the Ohio State softball team and most recently it represents the Buckeyes’ rank in the USA Today/NFCA Division I Top 25 Preseason Poll, released Tuesday.

A season ago, Ohio State, who returns 14 letterwinners in 2010, spent 14-consecutive weeks in the national rankings. The Scarlet and Gray debuted at No. 23 Feb. 20 and continued to climb the poll all the way through their NCAA Super Regional run in May, concluding the season with the highest ranking in program history at 12th. The 14 weeks spent in the Top 25 set an Ohio State record for consecutive weeks in the polls.

OSU also has earned a preseason ranking of 16th from the ESPN.com/USA Softball Collegiate Top 25 preseason poll.

“While national rankings are prestigious and our team is proud to be listed in the Top 25 of both polls, the Buckeye’s focus has to be on continued improvement in this preseason,” Linda Kalafatis, Ohio State head coach, said. “Our team realizes how close we were to getting to the Women’s College World Series last year and all of our efforts continue with that goal in mind.

“Preseason rankings are influenced a great deal by last year’s finish, but it’s a new season and we have some work to do before we open up in Houston. We have a very motivated group of players who are working hard.”

Ohio State now enters the season facing one of its toughest schedules in program history. In 50 scheduled games, the Buckeyes will play 11 games vs. team ranked in the Top 25 of the 2010 preseason poll and 31 games vs. teams who ranked in the Top 100 in 2009.

Highlighting the schedule is a doubleheader vs. conference foe and preseason No. 4/3 Michigan April 28 in Columbus on the Big Ten Network. No. 15/17 Northwestern also joins the Buckeyes and Wolverines in the Top 25 after posting 35-15 ledger. The OSU-NU series also will be showcased at Buckeye Field on the Big Ten Network May 14-15.

Washington holds the top spot in both preseason polls after winning its first Women’s College World Series title in 2009. Meeting last February, Ohio State pushed the eventual national champions to eight innings in a 1-0 Buckeye loss in Palm Springs, Calif.

The team opens 2010 with five games at the Houston Tournament Feb. 12-14. Ohio State will face its first two ranked opponents of the season, playing No. 18/15 Baylor Feb. 13 and No. 22/21 Louisville Feb. 14.

2010 USA Today/NFCA Division I Top 25 Preseason Poll (bolded teams 2010 opponents)

RANK

TEAM

’09 Record

TOTALS

Last Poll

1

Washington (30)

51-12

750

1

2

Alabama

54-11

677

3

3

Florida

63-5

649

2

4

Michigan

47-12

625

6

5

Arizona St.

47-19

613

5

6

Arizona

46-17

597

7

7

Georgia

47-12

569

4

8

UCLA

45-11

558

9

9

Missouri

50-12

536

8

10

Stanford

48-11

433

10

11

Oklahoma

41-16

401

16

12

California

38-20

370

11

13

Georgia Tech

46-15

319

13

14

Ohio St.

47-11

312

12

15

Northwestern

31-15

288

18

16

Tennessee

40-18-1

245

20

17

Baylor

40-22

226

15

18

LSU

34-18-1

219

19

19

North Carolina

47-13

209

17

20

Massachusetts

41-10

199

14

21

DePaul

39-14

178

23

22

Louisville

48-11

166

RV

23

Florida St.

44-16

109

22

24

Louisiana-Lafayette

45-13

88

25

25

Fresno St.

38-20

75

RV

Others Receiving Votes: North Dakota St. 44, Jacksonville St. 38, Cal Poly 37, Nevada 31, Nebraska 28, Texas 23, Notre Dame 21, Cal St. Fullerton 17, San Diego St. 15, Iowa 11, Kentucky 11, Purdue 10, Hawaii 8, Mississippi St. 7, Southern Illinois 7, Cal St. Northridge 6, Texas A&M 6, Tulsa 6, Creighton 4, BYU 3, Houston 3, Oklahoma St. 3

ESPN.com/USA Softball Collegiate Top 25 Preseason (bolded teams 2010 opponents)

Rank

Team

2009 Record

Points

Last Rank in 09

1.

Washington (17)

51-12

479

1

2.

Alabama (1)

54-11

457

3

3.

Michigan

47-12

430

5

4.

Arizona (1)

46-17

424

7

5.

Florida

63-5

407

2

6.

UCLA (1)

45-11

396

10

7.

Arizona State

47-19

387

6

8.

Georgia

47-12

363

4

9.

Missouri

50-12

337

8

10.

Oklahoma

41-16

306

17

11.

California

38-20

282

12

12.

Stanford

48-11

256

9

13.

LSU

34-18-1

234

19

14.

Georgia Tech

46-15

215

13

15.

Baylor

40-22

214

15

16.

Ohio State

47-11

187

11

17.

Northwestern

31-15

167

20

18.

Tennessee

40-18-1

163

16

19.

Florida State

44-16

128

25

20.

DePaul

39-14

107

23

21.

Louisville

48-11

93

24

22.

North Carolina

47-13

91

22

23.

ULL

45-13

84

RV

24.

Fresno State

38-20

70

RV

25.

UMass

41-10

55

14

Parenthesis Denotes first place votes.
Dropped Out: Jacksonville State and North Dakota State

Others receiving votes:  Kentucky (26), Jacksonville State (17), Auburn (14), North Dakota State (14), Nevada (12), Oregon (11), Oklahoma State (10), Texas (8), Cal Poly (7), Notre Dame (7), Nebraska (6), Texas A&M (5), Ball State (4), BYU (4), San Diego State (4), Long Beach State (3), Purdue (2), New Mexico State (1), Virginia Tech (1) and Western Michigan (1).