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Feb. 25, 2007

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CATHEDRAL CITY, Calif. – No. 9 Oklahoma remained one of only three undefeated teams left in Div. I softball with a 7-2 win over Ohio State Sunday as the Palm Springs Classic came to a close at Big League Dreams Sports Complex in Cathedral City, Calif. Despite the loss to the Sooners (16-0), the Buckeyes (5-5) beat two ranked teams and went 3-2 at the Classic, where they went a combined 2-8 the past two years.

Ohio State freshman Sam Marder (Calabasas, Calif./Calabasas) belted her team-leading fourth and fifth home runs of the season, both solos. Her first blast tied the game at 1-1 in the fourth inning and her second shot brought the score to 5-2.

Oklahoma left-handed starter D.J. Mathis (4-0), going against six OSU left-handed hitters in the starting line-up, retired nine of the first 11 Buckeyes she faced and allowed only four hits in the game.

“Oklahoma is a great team, I’m just disappointed we didn’t play better,” Linda Kalafatis, Ohio State head coach, said. “The weekend provided us with some great competition and we pretty much saw everyone’s No. 1 pitcher. I think we got better overall, but I think we can be a little bit better. We’ll use the next week of practice to work on some things and get ready to go to Birmingham next weekend.”

Senior Jamee Juarez (La Puente, Calif./Wilson) got the start in the circle and went four innings, allowing three runs, only two of which were earned and falls to 1-3. All three of her losses are to Top 10 opponents this season, including Oklahoma, No. 1 Arizona and No. 5 Arizona State.

The two Buckeyes who reached base in the first three innings got into scoring position, but were stranded. Senior Megan Schwab (Glendale, Ariz./Sunrise Mountain) doubled to the fence in right-center to lead off the second inning but was left at second, while freshman Whitney Cooper (Barstow, Calif./Barstow) doubled down the left-field line to lead off the third inning and got as far as third base.

In the fourth, Ohio State again led off an inning with an extra-base hit, but this time there was no doubt it would result in a run when Marder scooped a low offering from Mathis and sent it well over the fence in left-centerfield to tie the game at 1-1.

The Sooners responded, however, with two runs in the bottom of the fourth to retake the lead and Mariee Mena’s two-run homer that skipped off the top of the fence in the fifth put Oklahoma up 5-1.

Marder’s second homer, an opposite field line drive that tucked just inside the right field foul pole, brought the deficit to three runs at 5-2.

Sophomores Kim Reeder (Salinas, Calif./Notre Dame H.S.) and Courtney Pruner (Akron, Ohio/Ellet) worked the final two innings in the circle for Ohio State.

Next weekend, Ohio State travels to Birmingham, Ala., for the UAB Magic City Classic, where the Buckeyes will face UAM, Birmingham Southern and Samford in a total of four games Saturday and Sunday.

Postgame Notes -No. 9 Oklahoma 7, Ohio State 2

– Sam Marder’s five home runs already this season give her third place on the Ohio State freshman home runs list. She tied and then passed current Buckeyes Jamee Juarez (4 HR in 2004) and Liz Caputo (4 HR in 2005). Kristine Himes owns the frosh homer record with 10 in 2000 and Courtney Pruner is No. 2 with seven homers in 2006.

– Marder is the second freshman this decade to homer twice in a game, joining Pruner (at Miami, Ohio, in 2006), Caputo (vs. Long Island in Palm Springs in 2005) and Himes (vs. UNC-Greensboro in 2000).

– With the conclusion of the Palm Springs Classic Sunday, Ohio State ends a tough early portion of its schedule in which the Buckeyes faced six ranked teams, and two additional teams receiving votes, in their first 10 games.

– Oklahoma head coach Patty Gasso won her 600th career game Sunday. Ohio State head coach Linda Kalafatis owns 612 wins.

– With the win, Oklahoma remains one of three undefeated teams in Div. I college softball, along with No. 1 Tennessee and No. 5 Alabama.

– Oklahoma leads the all-time series with Ohio State 6-0.

– Oklahoma has eight starters back from its 2006 team that went 40-21-1 and went to the NCAA tournament. The Sooners were picked fourth in the 2007 Big 12 preseason coaches’ poll.

– Oklahoma’s two-time All-American utility player Norrelle Dickson is on the watch list for the USA Softball Collegiate Player of the Year award. A senior on the watch list for the third time in her career, she entered the game vs. Ohio State hitting .636 in Palm Springs and .500 overall this season.

### GO BUCKS! ###