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Feb. 20, 2007

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SETTING THE SCENE
COLUMBUS, Ohio – Following a week off, the Ohio State softball team heads to the Palm Springs Classic this weekend in Cathedral City, Calif., where the Buckeyes will play five games, including four against Top 20 opponents. The 25-team event is hosted annually by Oregon State and is played at the five-field Big League Dreams Sports Park.

Friday, the Buckeyes (2-3) will face Brigham Young (8-2) at 5:30 p.m. (PT) and No. 21 Fresno State (6-3) at 8 p.m. (PT). Ohio State will take on No. 10 Texas (8-2) Saturday at 1 p.m. (PT) followed by a 3:30 p.m. (PT) game against No. 11 California (6-4). The weekend ends Sunday at 9 a.m. (PT) against No. 12 Oklahoma (10-0). Updated rankings will be released later Tuesday.

GameTracker will have all five games live at www.ohiostatebuckeyes.com. Links are found on the softball schedule page.

2007 Palm Springs Classic
Hosted by Oregon State, Feb. 23-25, Cathedral City, Calif.

Tournament Complex:
Big League Dreams Sports Park (5 fields)
33700 Date Palm Drive, Cathedral City, Calif.
Web site: www.bigleaguedreams.com
Tournament info: www.osubeavers.com
GameTracker: ohiostatebuckeyes.com

Ohio State Tournament Schedule:
Fri., Feb. 23 (all times Pacific)
5:30 p.m. vs. Brigham Young, Yankee Field
8 p.m. vs. Fresno State, Yankee Field
Sat., Feb. 24
1 p.m. vs. Texas, DesMoines Field
3:30 p.m. vs. California, DesMoines Field
Sun., Feb. 25
9 a.m. vs. Oklahoma, Yankee Field

Tournament Field: Arizona State, Brigham Young, Califnornia, Cal Poly, Cal State Fullerton, Fresno State, Illinois-Chicago, Long Island, Loyola Marymount, Maryland, Michigan State, Mississippi, Nevada-Reno, Northwestern, Notre Dame, Oklahoma, Oklahoma State, Oregon State, Penn State, Tennessee, Texas, UCLA, UNLV, Virginia, Washington

Ohio State opened the 2007 season Feb. 9-11 at the Arizona State Kajikawa Classic in Tempe, going 2-3 with wins over New Mexico and Cal State Northridge and losses to No. 1 Arizona, No. 5 Arizona State and Texas Tech. This weekend, the competition does not get any easier. “This weekend will be a great test for our team,” Linda Kalafatis, Ohio State head coach, said. “We did some really good things the first time out this season and we recognized some things that we need to get better at so we’re anxious to take the field again and see where we are.”

After the Palm Springs Classic, Ohio State heads to Birmingham, Ala., for the UAB Magic City Classic March 3-4 for games against UAB, Birmingham Southern and Samford.

U.S. OLYMPIC TEAM JOINS CLASSIC
The schedule of games in Palm Springs Saturday will be combined with a meet and greet autograph session with Olympic and National Team members, including Lisa Fernandez, Stacey Nuveman, Jessica Mendoza, Laura Berg, Alicia Hollowell, Lovieanne Jung, Lauren Lappin, Tina Boutelle and Jennie Ritter. At 5:30 p.m. (PT) Saturday, those players and the Pro Fastpitch Extreme Tour All-Stars will take on UCLA in an exhibition game.

ABOUT THE PALM SPRINGS CLASSIC
Hosted by Oregon State, the Palm Springs Classic showcases some of the most prestigious softball programs in the country, including six of the eight teams that competed in the 2006 Women’s College World Series (Oregon State, UCLA, Arizona State, Northwestern, Tennessee, Texas). The field also includes 14 NFCA All-Americans. The tournament schedule is a preset five-game format with no championship bracket.

For tournament information, including driving directions and the complete schedule, log on to Oregon State’s Web site at www.osubeavers.com. For live statistics of all Ohio State games, visit the softball schedule page at www.ohiostatebuckeyes.com. Tournament all-session passes are available for $50 from the Ohio State ticket office by calling 1-800-GO-BUCKS.

OHIO STATE AT A GLANCE
The Buckeyes have 10 letterwinners and eight starters back from their 2006 squad that went 39-23 and 11-7 in the Big Ten and went to the Tucson Regional of the NCAA tournament. Ohio State has led the Big Ten in batting the last two years.

All three pitchers return in 2007, including senior Jamee Juarez (17-11) and sophomores Kim Reeder (16-11) and Courtney Pruner (6-1). Starters returning in the field include Juarez (P/3b, 2nd-team All-Big Ten), Lauren Daykin (c), captain Christina Douglas (1b), Nycole Koyano (2b, 2nd-team All-Big Ten/Region), Megan Schwab (lf, 2nd-team All-Big Ten/Region), Liz Caputo (cf) and Brittany Vanderink (rf, 1st-team All-Big Ten/Region), while Pruner returns at designated player.

Head coach Linda Kalafatis is in her 11th year at Ohio State and is one of three coaches in the Big Ten with more than 600 wins. Since 2000, the Buckeyes are 262-149 for a .640 winning percentage, which ranks third in the Big Ten during that time.

ON THE ROAD AGAIN
As usual, Ohio State travels west and south often in the early weeks of the season. The Buckeyes opened the season in Tempe, Ariz., Feb. 9-11 at the ASU Kajikawa Classic and are in Palm Springs, Calif., this weekend. Next up is the UAB Magic City Classic March 3-4 in Birmingham, Ala., followed by the South Florida-adidas Invitational March 8-11 in Clearwater, Fla. Ohio State then hosts the Buckeye Invitational March 17-18 before departing for a six-day, six-game trip in the Los Angeles area during spring break.

OSU FRESHMEN ALREADY SETTING RECORDS
When Sam Marder hit a grand slam against New Mexico Feb. 9, she became the first OSU freshman to hit a grand slam in her first collegiate game. The win also marked Ohio State’s third-consecutive season-opening win and sixth of its last eight. Freshman Megan Miller pitched in each of OSU’s first five games, becoming the third freshman in OSU history to pitch in five consecutive games, joining Jodi Dolan in 1995 and Belinda Cernava in 1990.

PALM SPRINGS BRINGS THE BEST
Of Ohio State’s first 10 opponents this spring (five in Tempe, five in Palm Springs), six appeared in the preseason national Top 25. Facing ranked teams is a tradition in Palm Springs, however. Last season in Palm Springs, the Buckeyes faced then-No. 3 UCLA, No. 22 Oregon and No. 1 Arizona. In Ohio State’s first trip to Palm Springs in 2005, the Buckeyes faced No. 20 Pacific, No. 12 Washington and No. 18 Oregon State.

CALIFORNIA DREAMIN…
The trip to Palm Springs this weekend is the first of two for Ohio State to California during the regular-season. Eight Buckeyes are from California, including seven from the Los Angeles area, which is about an hour and a half drive from Palm Springs.

From Los Angeles are OSU’s Nycole Koyano (Walnut), Rebecca Schultz (Rancho Santa Margarita), Sam Marder (Calabasas), Whitney Cooper (Barstow), Jamee Juarez (La Puente), Liz Caputo (Riverside) and Megan Miller (Woodland Hills). From the San Jose area is Kim Reeder (Salinas).

In addition, the hometowns of Christina Douglas (Mesa, Ariz.) and Megan Schwab (Glendale, Ariz.) are about a four hour drive from Palm Springs.

HANGIN’ TOUGH IN TEMPE
Ohio State’s off-day practice in Tempe, Ariz., Feb. 8 marked the Buckeyes first outdoor workout since completing their fall schedule in October. Despite the cram session, Ohio State won its season-opener Feb. 9 over New Mexico, 4-3, thanks to a grand slam from freshman Sam Marder and the pitching of sophomore Kim Reeder (W, 5.2 IP, 3 H, 3 R) and freshman Megan Miller (S, 1.1 IP, 1 H, 0 R).

Despite homers from Marder and freshman Whitney Cooper, a 12-3 loss to No. 1 and defending national champion Arizona ended day-one, but the Buckeyes rebounded with a 9-3 win over Cal State Northridge as day-two began. Senior captain Christina Douglas homered, while senior Jamee Juarez (3.0 IP, 4 H, 2 R) and Miller (W, 4.0 IP, 2 H, 1 R) combined in the circle. A 4-0 loss to Texas Tech and a 3-1 loss at No. 4 Arizona State ended Ohio State’s stay in Tempe.

During the five-game weekend, senior Nycole Koyano led Ohio State with a .429 batting average (6-for-14), while juniors Brittany Vanderink (.357, 5-for-14) and Liz Caputo (.333, 4-for-12) were close behind. Marder ended the weekend with three home runs and seven RBI.

OFF WEEK SUITS BUCKEYES JUST FINE
Ohio State’s week off last week was its first scheduled bye week since February of 2004 when the Buckeyes opened the season Feb. 13-15 at the Arizona State Fiesta Bowl Classic then had an off week before traveling to Atlanta for the NFCA Leadoff Classic Feb. 27-29. The extra week of preparation will help the Buckeyes as they now welcome four consecutive weekend tournaments, followed by a six-day trip during spring break.

“We had a plan to use the first week off to work mainly in our position groups (IF, OF, P’s and C’s) and get a lot of work in and a bunch of reps,” Kalafatis said. “And then this week we’ll get back to more team defense and game-like hitting. Our pitchers will throw `live’ to hitters this week and we’ll scrimmage at least once. Hopefully our kids got a lot of rest because from here on out we’re going every weekend so we’ll need to be smart on how we take care of ourselves.”

OSU-OPPONENT CONNECTIONS
Ohio State’s Christina Douglas and BYU’s Jodi Norton are both from Mesa, Ariz. Norton and OSU’s Megan Schwab (Glendale) played club softball together for the Phoenix Storm. OSU’s Nycole Koyano and BYU’s Angeline Quiocho are both from Walnut, Calif. OSU’s Liz Caputo and BYU’s Daniela Urincho were club teammates for Gordon’s Panthers.

Texas’ Megan Willis (Chandler, Ariz.) and OSU’s Schwab were club teammates, as were OSU’s Kim Reeder and UT’s Shannon Thomas and Desiree Williams. OSU’s Brittany Vanderink played on a summer team with Williams and UT’s Meagan Denny.

OSU’s Reeder played club softball with Cal’s Erika Racklin, while OSU’s Megan Miller was a club teammate of Cal’s Brittany LaRosa, Bernice Masaniai and Christina Schallig.

A LOOK AT THE COMPETITION
Brigham Young (8-2) opens the Palm Springs Classic Thursday night with two games before facing Ohio State Friday. The Cougars are hitting .335 as a team with 19 home runs already and are averaging seven runs a game. BYU has four players with three homers, while senior outfielder Jennifer Whiteley owns a team-best .520 average. Christie (3-1, 1.96 ERA) and Christina Gwyn (5-1, 2.21 ERA) lead the pitching staff for head coach Gordon Eakin, who is 168-73 at BYU and has 11 letterwinners back from his 2006 team that went 43-22 and finished second in the Mountain West Conference.

No. 21 Fresno State (6-3) has eight starters back from its 2006 team that went 37-19 and made the school’s 25th NCAA tournament appearance. The Bulldogs have been ranked in 221 of 235 weekly polls all-time and are led by 22nd-year head coach Margie Wright, who owns 1,212 career wins. Nichole Willis (.455) leads the FSU offense, while Robin Mackin (4-1, 1.42 ERA) leads the pitching staff.

No. 10 Texas (8-2) has six starters back from its 2006 team that went 55-9, won the Big 12 and advanced to the Women’s College World Series. Five Longhorns are hitting over .340 so far this season, led by Jacquel Williams (.389) and Loryn Johnson (.375). In the circle, Erin Tresselt (2-1, 0.60) and Meagan Denny (4-1, 0.61 ERA) have combined for 71 strikeouts in 57.2 innings pitched. Head coach Connie Clark founded the Texas program in 1997 and is 413-184-1 in Austin with four trips to the WCWS.

No. 11 California (6-4) won the Iowa Regional last May before falling to Oregon State in the Super Regional. The Golden Bears were 48-14 in 2006 and have seven position starters back for 20th-year head coach Diane Ninemire, who owns 861 wins at Cal. Junior infielder Katie Vickers leads the Bears with a .385 average and nine RBI, while sophomore Lauren Frankiewicz (2-1, 1.69 ERA) owns 25 strikeouts in 20.2 innings.

No. 12 Oklahoma (10-0) is one of five undefeated teams remaining in Div. I softball and last week won its OU/Nike Classic, outscoring its five opponents 64-6. With eight starters back from its 2006 team that went 40-21-1, Oklahoma is averaging 9.2 runs per game and has seven players hitting .360 or better, led by Norrelle Dickson (.433, 7 RBI). Lauren Eckermann (6-0, 1.37 ERA) leads OU’s pitching staff for head coach Patty Gasso, who is 594-200-2 in 13 seasons in Norman.

ALL-TIME SERIES NOTES
In the opener Friday, Ohio State and Brigham Young will meet for the first time.

Fresno State is 5-2 all-time against Ohio State and has won three straight. These teams last met in Fresno on March 26, 2004, when the Bulldogs swept a doubleheader (3-2, 1-0).

Texas leads the all-time series against the Buckeyes, 2-1 and last won 3-1 in Tempe Feb. 14, 2004. OSU’s win came in 1997 in Tempe.

In 2003, Ohio State knocked off defending national champion Cal, 1-0, in Fullerton, Calif., but the Golden Bears have won two straight (2002, 2004) to lead the series 4-3.

Oklahoma is 5-0 all-time against Ohio State but these two teams have not met since a 3-1 Sooner win in Fullerton, Calif., in 1997

HEAD COACH Linda Kalafatis
Head coach Linda Kalafatis is in her 11th season at Ohio State and in her 19th season as a collegiate head coach. She is OSU’s all-time wins leader (336-235, .590) and is one of three Big Ten coaches with more than 600 career wins (609-350-2, .634). Six times the Buckeyes have won at least 30 games under Kalafatis, who has guided OSU to the NCAA tournament three times (2002, 2004, 2006). She is assisted by former collegiate All-Americans Ali Viola (Nebraska) and Erica Beach (Arizona State).

RECORD BOOK WATCH
Senior Nycole Koyano owns 90 walks, which rank second in OSU history and are 28 shy of the school record. She ranks third all-time in stolen bases (60) and fourth all-time in runs scored (119). If Koyano leads the Buckeyes in runs this season, she will be the first to do that all four years.

Senior Jamee Juarez ranks third all-time in career RBI (97) and is ranked in the Top 5 in four career pitching statistics, including innings pitched (No. 5, 572.2), wins (No. 3, 55), strikeouts (No. 3, 519) and shutouts (No. 2, 19).

Senior Megan Schwab is tied for fifth all-time with 36 doubles and 14 home runs, her 91 RBI are tied for sixth and her 94 runs scored are ninth.

Five Buckeyes rank among the Top 15 in career batting average at Ohio State, including Liz Caputo (.366), Brittany Vanderink (.342), Megan Schwab (.325), Nycole Koyano (.324) and Jamee Juarez (.303).

### GO BUCKS! ###