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April 3, 2006

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COLUMBUS, Ohio – One of the longest homestands in program history begins this week for the Ohio State softball team, which hosts 18 of its next 19 games at Buckeye Field. The stretch begins Wednesday when the Buckeyes (18-14, 2-2 Big Ten) host Bowling Green, followed by conference series against Illinois Friday and Saturday and No. 14 Northwestern Sunday.

GameTracker will have all six games live at www.ohiostatebuckeyes.com.

The Buckeyes are 3-0 at home this season, which represent only three of OSU’s 32 games thus far in 2006. That trend will come to an end, however, as the Buckeyes will be at home for 20 of their last 27 regular season games before the Big Ten tournament May 11-13.

Bowling Green is off to a 21-10 start (4-0 Mid-American Conference) and has wins over then-No. 13 Washington and Purdue this season. Illinois (14-18, 1-3 Big Ten) visits Buckeye Field for the second-consecutive year and No. 16 Northwestern (22-8, 4-0 Big Ten) out-scored Wisconsin and Iowa 41-6 last weekend.

CHECKING THE SCHEDULE
Bowling Green is the first of six non-league opponents Ohio State will face in midweek games over the next five weeks. Illinois and Northwestern both have non-conference games on the road Tuesday, with the Fighting Illini taking on Bradley in Peoria and the Wildcats traveling to DeKalb to face Northern Illinois.

NO PLACE LIKE HOME
Ohio State is entering into a homestand that will include 18 of its next 19 games at home. The most recent such homestand was in 2004 when the Buckeyes played 16 of 18 games at home. The longest streak of consecutive home games occurred in 1994 when Ohio State played 20 straight home games, which was nearly topped in 1998 when OSU played 16 in a row at Buckeye Field. OHIO STATE AT A GLANCE
Ohio State went 2-2 on the road in the Big Ten last weekend to open conference play. The Buckeyes are 9-4 in their last 13 games, which includes a 3-0 record at home when OSU won the Buckeye Invitational March 17-19.

Junior Megan Schwab leads Ohio State with a .344 average, a .417 on-base percentage, a .531 slugging percentage and nine doubles, all of which rank among the Top 10 in the Big Ten. Senior Billie Carder and junior Nycole Koyano are both hitting .250, with Carder owning a team-high 18 RBI and Koyano leading the team with 19 runs scored and 17 stolen bases (17-for-19). Liz Caputo’s .364 average is tops on the squad but has been out since Feb. 19 with a broken leg.

Pitchers Jamee Juarez (9-8, 3.13 ERA) and freshman Kim Reeder (9-6, 1.80 ERA) have combined to start OSU’s 32 games.

OSU returns 11 letterwinners and welcomes four newcomers in 2006 for head coach Linda Kalafatis, who is in her tenth season. The Buckeyes were 32-17 overall in 2005 and finished fourth in the Big Ten with a 9-7 league mark. OSU ranked among the NCAA’s Top 13 in six categories, including scoring (8th, 5.8 runs/game).

BIG TEN AT A GLANCE
Northwestern, ranked No. 16 in the nation last week, leads the Big Ten with a 4-0 league record. The Wildcats (22-8 overall) are followed by Michigan State (3-0, 23-10), defending national champion Michigan (2-0, 20-9) and Indiana (3-1, 18-12). Four teams are all 2-2 in the Big Ten, including Iowa (20-14), Ohio State, Purdue (21-18) and Illinois (15-17).

This weekend, Indiana and Purdue are at Michigan and Michigan State, while Minnesota is at Iowa and Wisconsin. Penn State hosts Northwestern and Illinois opposite Ohio State.

OSU IN NON-CONFERENCE HOME GAMES
Since head coach Linda Kalafatis took over the Ohio State program for the 1997 season, the Buckeyes are 90-10 in non-conference home games at Buckeye Field. Among the best season records in non-conference home games, OSU was 14-2 in 2001 and 13-1 in both 2002 and 1998. The Buckeyes were 7-0 in non-league games at Buckeye Field last year, batting .389 as a team in those games and averaging 9.7 runs per game.

OSU VS. BGSU ALL-TIME SERIES NOTES
Ohio State is 19-10-1 all-time against Bowling Green and 9-1 against the Falcons at Buckeye Field. OSU swept BG last year in Columbus, 5-0 and 9-3. The Falcons’ last win came at Buckeye Field in 2001, the same season in which OSU won a then-school record 46 games.

Year Location Winner Score 2005 Columbus Ohio State 9-3 2005 Columbus Ohio State 5-0 2001 Columbus BGSU 2-1 2001 Columbus Ohio State 5-2 2000 Bowling Green Ohio State 6-2 2000 Miami, Fla. BGSU 2-0

OSU VS. ILLINOIS SERIES NOTES
Ohio State is 6-4 all-time against Illinois and 4-3 against the Fighting Illini at Buckeye Field. Of note, these two teams have only met twice in Champaign, that coming in 2004 when they split a doubleheader. The Fighting Illini have won three of the last four games in the series, including in the 2004 Big Ten Tournament in Ann Arbor. The Buckeyes have one sweep of Illinois (2002), while the Illini have never swept OSU.

Year Location Winner Score 2005 Columbus Illinois 8-7 2005 Columbus Ohio State 5-3 2004 Ann Arbor Illinois 5-0 2004 Champaign Illinois 1-0 2004 Champaign Ohio State 1-0

OSU VS. NORTHWESTERN SERIES NOTES
Northwestern leads the all-time series against Ohio State, 51-23-3 and has won four straight over the Buckeyes (2003, 2004), but OSU is 13-9 against the Wildcats at Buckeye Field. The two games in Evanston last season were cancelled. The Buckeyes last swept Northwestern in 2002 and also swept the Wildcats in 2001 at Buckeye Field.

Year Location Winner Score 2004 Columbus Northwestern 5-3 2004 Columbus Northwestern 5-3 2003 Evanston Northwestern 10-3 2003 Evanston Northwestern 5-2 2002 Columbus Ohio State 3-1 2002 Columbus Ohio State 12-4

A LOOK AT THE COMPETITION
Bowling Green (21-10) won the 2004 Mid-American Conference championship but slipped to 29-30 last year and 12-10 in the MAC. The Falcons return14 letterwinners and seven starters this season for coach Leigh Ross (221-185-2). In addition to their big wins (see earlier note) BGSU is 11-2 in its last 13 games, with the only losses coming at then-No. 12 Michigan 3-0 and at Notre Dame 1-0. Gina Rango leads the Falcon offense with a .362 average, eight doubles, four home runs and 18 RBI, while Liz Vrabel (10-5, 1.64 ERA) and Emily Gouge (6-0, 1.33 ERA) lead BGSU in the circle.

Illinois (14-18, 1-3) ranks second in the Big Ten in team batting (.291) but 11th in team pitching (5.73 ERA). The Fighting Illini were 24-26 last year and 4-14 in the Big Ten and return 13 letterwinners and seven starters. Head coach Terri Sullivan is 218-146-2 in her seventh year. Jenna Hall (.494, 10 HR, 29 RBI) and Shanna Diller (.305, 3 HR, 28 RBI) were both third-team All-Big Ten picks a year ago. Claire DeVreese leads the Illini pitching staff with a 10-9 record and 5.13 ERA.

Northwestern (22-8, 4-0), which has been among the Top 25 all season thus far, ranks seventh in the Big Ten in team batting (.257) and fourth in pitching (1.77 ERA). Kate Drohan is in her fifth season in Evanston (158-77-1) and welcomes eight starters and 15 letterwinners back from her 2005 squad that went 42-18 and 15-3 in the Big Ten. Among them are Kristen Amegin (.324, 6 HR, 22 RBI), who is NU’s career home run and walks leader. Garland Cooper (.385, 5 HR, 26 RBI) was a first-team All-American last year and the Big Ten Player of the Year. In the circle, Eileen Canney (10-4, 1.55 ERA) and first-team All-Big Ten selection Courtney Foster (12-4, 2.01 ERA) have handled all of Northwestern’s pitching duties this season.

LAST YEAR AGAINST BOWLING GREEN
Ohio State swept Bowling Green last year in Columbus on April 27, 5-0 and 9-3. In the first game, OSU’s Jamee Juarez limited the Falcons to just two hits and only four base runners in her 16th complete game. She helped her own cause with a two-run home run in the second inning. In the second game, Chelsea Baker’s 3-for-4 performance at the plate and five-strikeout, four-hit effort in the circle helped the Buckeyes complete the sweep of the Falcons. Juarez had a career high four RBI in game 2.

BUCKEYE-FALCON CONNECTIONS
Ohio State senior Chelsea Baker and Bowling Green junior Ashley Zirkle are both from nearby Gahanna, Ohio. Baker went to DeSales H.S., while Zirkle went to Gahanna Lincoln. From the Akron area are OSU freshman Courtney Pruner (Ellet H.S.) and BGSU freshman Desiree Miller (Hartville).

Six players in the game come from suburbs of Los Angeles, including Ohio State’s Stacy Hibma (Buena Park), Jamee Juarez (La Puente), Nycole Koyano (Walnut) and Liz Caputo (Riverside) as well as BGSU’s Jeanine Baca (La Habra) and Wendy Sheehan (Orange).

SHORT HOPS…
Senior Billie Carder batted .364 (4-for-11) in four Big Ten road games last week and hit a second-inning grand slam Saturday to propel Ohio State to a 6-3 win at Indiana, which marked the Hoosiers only loss of the weekend. Carder added an RBI single later in that game to finish with a career-high five RBI. The grand slam was the second of her career.

Freshman pitcher Kim Reeder has won five of her last six decisions and is coming off her best outing of the season Sunday at Purdue when she tossed her first collegiate shutout and gave up a season-low three hits. In her last eight appearances, Reeder has given up only seven earned runs in 48 innings (1.02 ERA).

Junior Jamee Juarez had pitched four career one-hitters heading into the first game at Long Beach State March 24, during which she tossed her first career no-hitter. It was the first no-hitter thrown by an OSU pitcher since current assistant coach Kristi DeVries threw a five-inning perfect game against Wright State March 6, 2004. Juarez tied a Big Ten and Ohio State record Feb. 25 with three home runs in a 6-0 win over No. 22 Oregon in Palm Springs.

The Buckeyes are 15-0 when leading after four innings. OSU is 14-3 when scoring three or more runs. The Buckeyes’ 4-0 start matched their best four-game start in program history (1979). Ohio State went into extra-innings in four of its first six games of the season and went 2-2 in those contests. The Buckeyes won back-to-back games in extra-innings Feb. 11 for the first time among available records.

Freshman Courtney Pruner’s four walks vs. Central Michigan (March 18) tied the OSU record. Her first collegiate hit was a home run (Feb. 11) and she now has four homers on the season, which are tied for second-most in a season by a freshman in OSU history (Juarez in 2004). Pruner is the all-time home run leader in Ohio high school history.

BUCKEYES IN THE BIG TEN
In Big Ten statistics as of March 27, Ohio State ranked eighth in the Big Ten in batting (.251 avg.), eighth in pitching (2.60 ERA) and ninth in fielding (.955 pct.). The Buckeyes were tied for first in triples (5) and ranked third in home runs (21) and stolen bases (40).

Individually, Megan Schwab’s .365 average ranked sixth, her .438 on base percentage tied for sixth and her .553 slugging percentage ranked 10th. Courtney Pruner and Jamee Juarez were tied for seventh in home runs (4) and Pruner was tied for third in walks (14). Nycole Koyano ranked third in stolen bases (15) and tied for third in walks (14). Among Big Ten pitchers, Juarez ranked sixth in strikeouts (99) and Reeder ranked fifth in innings pitched (95.0).

KALAFATIS IN 10TH YEAR AT OSU
Ohio State head coach Linda Kalafatis is in her 10th season at the helm of the Buckeyes’ softball program in 2006. She is already OSU’s all-time wins leader with 313 victories in Columbus (313-223-0, .583), and her overall record stands at 586-338-2 (.639) in 18 years as a collegiate head coach. She is assisted by former Buckeyes Belinda Quisenberry and Kristi DeVries and former Nebraska All-American Ali Viola.

### GO BUCKS! ###