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May. 2, 2005

COLUMBUS, Ohio – Coming off a 5-1 week, including a 3-1 Big Ten weekend, the Ohio State softball team concludes the regular season this week with six games, including four in Columbus. Ohio State (27-15, 7-7 Big Ten) hosts Akron (24-24, 8-12 Mid-American) at 5 p.m. Tues. in a double-header and travels to Pittsburgh (22-24, 6-8 Big EAST) at 3 p.m. Wed. for two games before welcoming Penn State (32-18, 10-7 Big Ten) to Buckeye Field for a 6 p.m. game Sat. and a 1 p.m. game Sun. that will play a major hand in the seeding for the Big Ten tournament May 12-14 at either Northwestern or Michigan.

With their successful weekend, the Buckeyes jumped up four spots in the Big Ten standings into a tie for fifth place and guaranteed themselves a spot in the postseason conference tournament. The Penn State series this weekend will determine what seed the Buckeyes will carry into the tournament, but before those games Ohio State will aim to build on its 18-2 record against its last 15 non-conference opponents. OSU is 8-2 in its last 10 games and is 9-4 at Buckeye Field in 2005.

BUCKEYES LIVE ON THE INTERNET
The Ohio State student radio station, KBUX, will broadcast the Ohio State vs. Akron double-header Tues. and both games of the Penn State series this weekend. Their coverage can be heard on the internet at www.underground.fm/sports, with Jeff Svoboda and Gavin Blair bringing the call. Also live on the web, GameTracker will be available for the Akron and Penn State games at www.ohiostatebuckeyes.com.

OSU IN THE NATIONAL RANKINGS
In national statistical rankings through Apr. 24, Ohio State ranked No. 8 in the country in scoring offense (6.22 runs per game, now 5.98) and No. 5 in batting average (.331, now .325). OSU was ranked fifth in triples per game (.44, now .41), 22nd in doubles per game (1.47, now 1.60), 23rd in stolen bases per game (1.69, now 1.71) and 12th in slugging percentage (.504, now .502). In individual rankings, Ohio State’s Nycole Koyano was ranked No. 1 in triples per game (.21), No. 2 in walks per game (.76) and No. 25 in runs per game (.91). Karisa Evans was No. 13 in sacrifice hits per game (.34). BUCKEYES ENJOY LENGTHY HOMESTAND
11 of Ohio State’s final 13 scheduled regular season games are all at Buckeye Field. OSU saw one of those games rained out last Tues. against Western Michigan, but the remaining home games, including six inside the Big Ten, should aid in the Buckeyes’ quest to qualify for the Big Ten and NCAA tournament.

BIG TEN TOURNAMENT SHAPING UP
Six teams have already clinched a spot in the Big Ten tournament, including Northwestern (15-1 Big Ten), Michigan (13-2), Iowa (11-5), Penn State (10-7), Wisconsin (9-9) and Ohio State (7-7). Michigan State (7-9) had concluded its Big Ten schedule and will wait to see how Purdue (8-10, vs. Indiana 2-16) and Minnesota (6-12, vs. Wisconsin) fare this weekend.

OHIO STATE VS. AKRON AND PITTSBURGH
Ohio State is 10-7 all-time against Akron, with the last meeting between these two schools taking place in 2003 when the Buckeyes were handed 1-0 losses in both games of a double-header at Akron. That snapped a four-game winning streak in the series by Ohio State, which owns a 4-2 record against the Zips at Buckeye Field. Ohio State head coach Linda Kalafatis was the head coach at Akron from 1994-96 before taking over the Buckeye program in 1997. At Akron, Kalafatis compiled a 98-63-1 record in her three years.

Ohio State is 6-0 all-time against Pittsburgh, including 2-0 this season. The two teams met twice in the Florida Atlantic University Classic in Boca Raton, Fla., with the Buckeyes winning 8-7 Feb. 19 and 6-3 Feb. 20. The Buckeyes won twice at neutral sites in 2000 and swept the Panthers at Buckeye Field, 3-0 and 2-0, last season.

THREE BUCKEYES NOMINATED FOR ACADEMIC HONORS
Three Ohio State seniors have been nominated for the CoSIDA (College Sports Information Directors of America) Academic All-America team. Meghan Rowlands and Jennifer Johnson, both English majors, and Ashley Cutcliff, a sports and leisure studies major, all have built career grade point averages over 3.2 and will be on the all-region ballot that goes to SIDs across District IV (Ohio, Mich., Ky., Tenn., Ala.). The first-team Academic All-District IV honorees will then be on the All-America ballot.

OHIO STATE QUICK HITS
Ohio State’s .325 overall batting average is No. 2 in the Big Ten and is among the national leaders (No. 5 as of Apr. 24 at .331). OSU opponents are hitting .255 overall. The Buckeyes have over twice as many doubles (67-32) and over three times as many triples (17-5). Ohio State is 16-for-45 (.356) when the bases are loaded with three grand slams. OSU increases its batting average to .373 with runners in scoring position and to .488 with a runner on third base and less than two outs. Buckeye pitchers have racked up 225 strikeouts, while OSU hitters have struck out only 162 times and have many more walks (127 to 82).

The Buckeyes are 26-6 when scoring at least three runs and 17-2 when holding their opponents to two or fewer runs. OSU is 12-2 when scoring in the first inning and 23-6 when scoring first in the game. Ohio State is 25-3 when outhitting or having the same number of hits as its opponent.

BUCKEYES COMING OFF 5-1 WEEK
Ohio State is coming off a 5-1 record at home last week, including a 3-1 mark in Big Ten play. The Buckeyes swept non-conference opponent Bowling Green Wed., 5-0 and 9-3 before getting back into league action against Indiana and Purdue. Ohio State entered the weekend No. 9 in the Big Ten standings, but jumped to a tie for No. 5 after sweeping the Hoosiers, 4-0 and 3-2, and splitting with the Boilermakers, winning the opener 6-1 and falling in the night cap, 8-0.

SCOUTING THE ZIPS
Akron (24-24, 8-12 MAC) is coming off a three-game sweep at Mid-American Conference opponent Ohio over the weekend in which the Zips outhit the Bobcats, 25-11. Akron is 4-2 in its last six games, with the only two losses coming at Penn State Apr. 27. UA is 0-3 against the Big Ten this season.

Kelly Quigley leads the Zip offense with a .324 average, 11 doubles, 12 home runs and 35 RBI. Other offensive leaders include Sara Zilles (.316, 9 2b, 3 3b, 11 RBI), Kerry Omerza (.293, 10 2b, 3 HR, 21) and Jaclyn Spirtos (.262, 5 2b, 5 HR, 20 RBI). Tina McCauley leads the UA pitching staff with a 17-16 record, 1.96 ERA and 198 strikeouts in 206.2 innings pitched this season. Megan MacKenzie is 7-7 with a 2.50 ERA.

A LOOK AT THE PANTHERS
Pittsburgh (22-24, 8-6 Big EAST) enters this week coming off back-to-back home double-header sweeps of Boston College and Syracuse over the weekend in Big EAST action. The Panthers host Kent State Tues.

Francesca DiMaria leads the Pitt offense with a .338 average and 45 hits, while other offensive leaders include Christa Hunter (.298, 10 2b, 5 HR, 28 RBI) and Morgan Howard (.295, 3 RBI). The pitching staff includes Laura Belardinell (9-9, 2.75 ERA), Meghan Bostick (3-4, 3.10 ERA) and Christa Hunter (10-11, 3.49 ERA).

JUAREZ THE WORKHORSE, RECORD SETTER
Starting in five of Ohio State’s six games last week, sophomore Jamee Juarez moved up the leaderboard in two pitching categories last week. She now ranks fourth in all-time strikeouts (278) and fourth in single-season wins (21). During a two-hitter against Indiana Sat. she moved past current OSU assistant coach Belinda Quisenberry on the career strikeouts list, and with her 21st win Sunday in the opener vs. Purdue, she is now three wins away from the single-season record of 24 wins set by Genice Turley in 1994. Katie Chain won 23 games in 2001 and 22 games in 2002.

Juarez, twice named the Big Ten Player of the Week this season, has started in the circle in 15 of Ohio State’s last 19 games and in 34 of OSU’s 42 games overall. She has earned the decision in 21 of the Buckeyes’ last 24 games. Juarez was 2-4 in her first six decisions before winning nine consecutive games from Feb. 27 to March 24.

BUCKEYES IN THE BIG TEN
Ohio State ranks No. 2 in the Big Ten in batting (.325) and No. 2 in scoring (5.98 runs/game). OSU is No. 9 in pitching (3.15 ERA) and No. 8 in fielding (.958), but those rankings improve in Big Ten games, as the Buckeyes are No. 5 in pitching (3.40 ERA) and No. 4 in fielding (.966) in league contests. In all games, OSU ranks No. 4 in doubles (67), No. 1 in triples (17), No. 2 in stolen bases (72) and has struck out the fewest times (162, Michigan is No. 2 at 211).

Ohio State has three of the conference’s Top 10 on base percentage leaders, as Nycole Koyano ranks fourth (.483), Karisa Evans ranks sixth (.466) and Jamee Juarez ranks ninth (.461). Megan Schwab owns the No. 8 slugging percentage (.647). Koyano is tied for the Big Ten lead in triples (7), ranks No. 4 in walks (28) and No. 7 in stolen bases (14). Evans is tied for the league lead in sacrifice bunts (12). Among Big Ten pitchers, Juarez ranks No. 3 in wins (21) and No. 8 in strikeouts (160).

NOTING THE BUCKEYES
Chelsea Baker (.375, 3 HR, 13 RBI, 5-2, 4.53 ERA) had an eight-game hitting streak from Apr. 16-30, during which she went 12-for-23 (.522), hit a home run, four doubles and drove in six runs. Her avg. is third-best on the team and her .414 avg. with runners on base is No. 4. She has won her last two decisions in the circle.

Liz Caputo (.358, 4 HR, 18 RBI) is batting .500 (14-for-28) in her last 11 games to raise her average to fifth-best on the team. Her .480 avg. in Big Ten games is best on the squad. Caputo’s four home runs are tied for second in OSU history for HR by a freshman. She was a perfect 6-for-6 in the double-header at Minnesota Apr. 3 with a home run. Caputo hit two home runs Feb. 27 vs. Long Island, one of which was a grand slam, to set an OSU freshman record with seven RBI.

Billie Jo Carder (.309, 3 HR, 25 RBI) owns a team-best .488 avg. (20-for-41) with runners in scoring position and 13 of her RBI have come with two outs, tied for tops on the team. She has at least one hit in six of her last eight games and has nine RBI during that stretch. In Big Ten games she has driven in a team-high 14 runs. Carder went 4-for-7 in the double-header against Illinois Apr. 17 with four RBI in game two. She had a career-high four hits in OSU’s 12-7 win over Marshall March 20. Her grand slam against Mississippi State March 6 helped vault OSU to an 11-0 win.

Ashley Cutcliff (.446, 4 HR, 14 RBI) was nominated for CoSIDA Academic All-America honors Apr. 19. Her avg. is best on the team and increases it to a team-best .469 (15-for-32) with runners on base. Eight times in her career has she collected three hits in a game, including three times in 2005. Cutcliff’s 13 career home runs are tied for fourth-most in OSU history.

Christina Douglas (.292, 4 HR, 29 RBI) leads the team in doubles (11) and ranks No. 2 in RBI. Her 12 RBI in Big Ten games is also No. 2. Douglas was named to the all-tournament team of the Buckeye Invitational March 18-20 after hitting .500 (4-for-8) in the event with two doubles, a grand slam and eight RBI.

Karisa Evans (.344, 1 HR, 15 RBI) is batting .469 (15-for-32) in her last 12 games. Her .343 avg. in Big Ten games is No. 4 on the team. She leads Ohio State in sacrifice bunts with 12, which is tied for second in the Big Ten and ranks No. 13 in the country (as of Apr. 24). In Big Ten games she owns a team-best .789 percentage rate of advancing runners (.639 in all games, tied for team lead). Her career batting average of .334 is eighth-best in school history.

Nicole Gragson (1-2, 5.15 ERA) has not been charged with an earned run allowed in her last six appearances (6.2 IP). She threw a three strikeout inning at Wright State Apr. 19. She pitched six solid innings against Iowa (now ranked No. 15) March 6 in the championship game of the Buzz Classic.

Natalie Hales (.211, 1 HR, 3 RBI) went 2-for-3 vs. Illinois Apr. 17 and 1-for-3 vs. Indiana Apr. 30. She hit her fourth career home run March 23 in OSU’s 6-1 win at Cal State Fullerton.

Stacy Hibma (.310, 4 HR, 10 RBI) has a three game hitting streak (.500, 4-for-8). She went 2-for-3 with a homer at Wright State Apr. 19, her fourth of the season. She also went 2-for-3 at California-Riverside March 26. She hit two home runs against Boston March 5.

Stephanie Hill (3 ab, .000) has entered the game as a pinch runner 24 times this season, most on the team. She has scored 13 runs and has five stolen bases.

Jennifer Johnson (.043, 0 HR, 2 RBI) owns a team-best 79 fielding assists and has committed just one error in 48 fielding chances in Big Ten play. She was nominated for CoSIDA Academic All-America honors Apr. 19. Johnson has started 39 games at shortstop this season, the most of any Buckeye at any one position. She has started in 153 games as a Buckeye, the most among active players.

Jamee Juarez (.376, 1 HR, 25 RBI, 21-11, 2.24 ERA) has been the starting pitcher in 29 of OSU’s 42 games and in all but one Big Ten game. She has been the pitcher of record in 32 games. Juarez ranks 4th on the OSU all-time strikeout list (278) and 4th on the single-season wins list (record is 24). Juarez won nine consecutive games from Feb. 27-March 24. She has collected two hits in five of her last 10 games. Juarez had an 11 game hitting streak from March 6-April 3. Juarez was named to the all-tournament team of the Buckeye Invitational when she pitched OSU to each of its three wins in the event and batted .556 (5-for-9). She has been named the Big Ten Player of the Week twice in 2005.

Nycole Koyano (.353, 1 HR, 12 RBI) led the nation in triples as of Apr. 24 with .21 per game (7 3b, 34 g). She ranked No. 2 in the country in walks per game with .76 (26 bb, 34 g) and was No. 25 in runs per game with 1.00 (34 r, 34 g). Her triples total is third-most in a season at OSU and her walks are tied for fifth-most. She owns a .882 career stolen base percentage (30-for-34, team-high 13 SB in 2005) and set the OSU freshman stolen bases record last year with 16. Koyano was named to the all-tournament team of the Buckeye Invitational March 18-20. She set an OSU single-game record in the Buckeyes’ season-opening 8-0 win vs. Rutgers with two triples.

Nicole Lancaster (.250, 0 HR, 1 RBI) hit her second double of the season Apr. 27 vs. BGSU. She had a career-best day March 5 against SDSU when she went 2-for-2 with two runs scored, an RBI and a double.

Meghan Rowlands (.226, 1 HR, 5 RBI) has played in 185 games as a Buckeye, most among active players. She went 2-for-3 against Michigan State Apr. 9 and doubled against Wright State Apr. 19. She had five hits in her first 12 at bats this season, including the game-winning RBI vs. Pittsburgh, Feb. 19. Rowlands was nominated for CoSIDA Academic All-America honors Apr. 19.

Megan Schwab (.370, 7 HR, 33 RBI) leads the team in multiple hit games (13) and multiple RBI games (11) as well as HR and RBI and ranks No. 2 in doubles (10). She is 3-for-3 with the bases loaded and is batting .469 with runners in scoring position (No. 2 on team). Schwab went on a 10 game hitting streak from March 6-26, during which time she hit .612 (19-for-31). Twice this season she has hit two home runs in a game. She was named to the all-tournament team of the Buzz Classic March 4-6 and the Buckeye Invitational March 18-20.

Andrea Tribuzi (0-0, 6.00 ERA) made two pitching appearances in the Buzz Classic and has eight on the season.

Brittany Vanderink (.333, 0 HR, 10 RBI) has five multiple hit performances in her last 10 games, during which time she is batting .406 (13-for-32). Her .480 avg. with runners in scoring position (12-for-25) is No. 2 on the team and her .381 avg. in Big Ten games ranks No. 3 on the team. Vanderink is 13-for-14 in the stolen base department, which ranks No. 2 for stolen bases in a season by a Buckeye freshman (Koyano set the record last season with 16). Her four triples this season are tied for the most-ever by a freshman at OSU. She is 6-for-12 (.500) as a pinch hitter, including 4-for-5 (.800) in Big Ten games.

KALAFATIS IN YEAR NINE AT OSU
Ohio State head coach Linda Kalafatis is in her ninth season at the helm of the Buckeyes’ softball program in 2005. She is already OSU’s all-time wins leader with 290 victories in Columbus (290-207-0, .581), and her overall record stands at 563-322-2 (.638) in 17 years as a collegiate head coach. Kalafatis has guided Ohio State to the NCAA tournament in two of the last three years and was named the 2002 Big Ten Coach of the Year. She is assisted by former Buckeyes Belinda Quisenberry and Chrissy Fowler.

BUCKEYES BETTER THAN BEFORE
Several Buckeyes have bettered their statistical totals from a year ago. So. Megan Schwab has improved almost all of her numbers from 2004, including home runs (7 in `05, 3 in `04) and RBI (33 in `05, 25 in `04) and is batting .370 compared to .295 last year. So. Nycole Koyano has seven triples after having none in 2004. Jr. Billie Jo Carder has nine doubles and 25 RBI, which are more than her combined freshman and sophomore totals (five doubles, 10 RBI).

So. Christina Douglas has 35 hits, four home runs and 29 RBI this season after having 11 hits, one homer and seven RBI in 2004. Jr. Stacy Hibma has four home runs, more than the three homers of her first two seasons. Others with batting averages significantly up from last year include Carder (.255 in 2004, up to .309), sr. Ashley Cutcliff (.329 up to .446), Douglas (.216 up to .292), Hibma (.237 up to .310), Juarez (.279 up to .376) and jr. Nicole Lancaster (.000 up to .250). As a team, Ohio State has already scored more runs (251) than it did last year (230), hit more home runs (34, 25 in 2004), hit more triples (17, 7 in 2004) and stolen more bases (72, 70 in 2004).

### Go Bucks! ###