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Ohio State at Marriott Houston Hobby Classic Tournament
Feb. 12-14, 2010
Tournament Central:
http://www.uhcougars.com/sports/w-softbl/spec-rel/10-mariott-hobby-invite.html 
Field: Cougar Softball Stadium (Seats 1,200), Houston, Texas
Tickets: Adults $8, Youth $5 (Cash only, No ATM on site)

COLUMBUS, Ohio – The No. 14/16 Ohio State softball team opens its much anticipated 2010 season Friday-Sunday at the Marriott Houston Hobby Classic Tournament in Houston, Texas. The Buckeyes will play five games at the classic, kicking things off vs. tournament host Houston at 7 p.m. Friday at Cougar Softball Stadium.

Ohio State plays Sam Houston State at 9 a.m. and No. 17/15 Baylor at 11 a.m. Saturday before concluding the weekend vs. No. 22/21 Louisville at 9 a.m. and Kansas at 11 a.m. Sunday. (All times listed are Central)

FOLLOWING FROM HOME
A link for live stats can be found on the Ohio State softball schedule page and at the Marriott Houston Hobby Classic tournament page (Click Here for complete tournament schedule – home team listed second).

ALL-TIME SERIES
Ohio State vs.
Houston:
1-0, last meeting in 2002; Last meeting at the 2002 Cougar Invitational, Ohio State defeated Houston, 5-0, Feb. 17, finishing the tournament with a perfect 5-0 ledger. That season the Buckeyes finished with a program-high 55 wins.

Sam Houston State: 4-2, last meeting in 2009; En route to its Easton Classic title, Ohio State earned two wins vs. Sam Houston State in Baton Rouge, La. The Buckeyes won 6-3 Feb. 14 and 2-0 Feb. 15.

Baylor: 2-1, last meeting in 2002; OSU last met Baylor at the 2002 Cougar Classic in Houston, Texas, winning, 2-0, Feb. 15.

Louisville: 1-0, last meeting in 2009; Last season, the Buckeyes went 5-0 at the Louisville Tournament March 13-15, including their 3-2 win vs. the No. 17/18 Cardinals.

Kansas: 3-0, last meeting in 1994; In 1994, Ohio State swept Kansas in a doubleheader, 2-1 and 7-4, March 20. That season, the Buckeyes ended the season with a 40-20 ledger.

BUCKEYES QUICK HITS

  • Ohio State returns 14 letterwinners and seven starters from its 2009 squad that went 47-11 and 16-2 in the Big Ten, finishing second in the league.
  • The Buckeyes have made three NCAA appearances in the last four years, including their first run in program history to the NCAA Super Regional in 2009. Ohio State also made the tournament in 2006 and ’07.
  • Last season the team recorded the second-most wins, runs and RBI in program history with a 47-11 ledger, 329 runs scored and 293 RBI. OSU also recorded the second-most shutouts in program history with 23, one shy of the record.
  • The Buckeyes won seven games vs. ranked opponents, including back-to-back wins over then-No. 5 Texas A&M in February and conference foe and No. 12 Northwestern in May.

IN HOUSTON
This is Ohio State’s first return to the Houston Tournament since its 2002 campaign. The Buckeyes went 5-0 at the 2002 Cougar Invitational, now named the Marriott Houston Hobby Classic.

2002 Cougar Invitational Results
W, 2-0 vs. Baylor Feb. 15
W, 8-0 vs. Stephen F. Austin Feb. 15
W, 7-2 vs. Sam Houston State Feb. 16
W, 7-0 vs. Mcneese State Feb. 16
W, 5-0 vs. Houston Feb. 17

AT THE HELM
Head coach Linda Kalafatis enters her 14th season at the helm of the Buckeyes as one of the most successful coaches in the Big Ten and the NCAA. She is one of four conference coaches with more than 700 career wins, placing her among the Top 30 active coaches in the country. The 2007 Big Ten Coach of the Year, Kalafatis is third among current Big Ten coaches in number of victories – with five fewer years coaching experience than her nearest colleague.

The Buckeyes have won 30 or more games in nine of Kalafatis’ 13 seasons in Columbus and in each of the last six seasons. Also the Big Ten coach of the year in 2002, she has guided Ohio State to five of the program’s six NCAA tournament appearances (2002, ’04, ’06, ’07, ’09), including its first trip to the NCAA Super Regional a season ago.

Kalafatis enters the 2010 season with a 454-284 (.615) record in 13 years at Ohio State, which marks the best win total and winning percentage in program history. In 21 years as a collegiate head coach, including stops at her alma mater California (Pa.) and Akron, she owns a record of 727-399-2 (.645).

ON THE ROAD
Ohio State opens 2010 with five-consecutive early-season tournaments on the road, playing 27 away games before hosting a Big Ten doubleheader vs. Wisconsin March 27-28 in Columbus. The Buckeyes went 20-3 during its early tournament season in 2009, including six wins vs. ranked opponents. The only Top 25 team OSU fell to in the first third of the schedule was Washington, a 1-0 loss in eight innings Feb. 22, who won the 2009 Women’s College World Series.

SEASON OPENERS
The Buckeyes have won the last six season openers and 9 of their last 10. Ohio State tied the best 10-game start in program history a season ago, going 9-1 through the first two weeks of the season. With 14 returning letterwinners on the squad, the Scarlet and Gray again will look to jump to a quick start.

In 2009, Ohio State opened with a 4-1 appearance at the New Mexico State Tournament (Feb. 6-8) in Las Cruces, N.M., before winning the Easton Tiger Classic (Feb. 13-15) in Baton Rouge, La., with a 5-0 ledger.

WINNING WAYS
Since 2000, Ohio State has won 380 games, which is the third-highest win total in the Big Ten during that time. The Buckeyes own a .657 winning percentage, good for fourth in the league.

The 2009 squad made history, recording 47 wins, the second most in school history, and advancing to the program’s first NCAA Super Regional. For six-consecutive seasons, Ohio State has notched 30 or more wins – the longest 30-win stretch in Buckeye history.

NOTING THE RANKINGS
Last season, the Buckeyes spent 14-consecutive weeks in the national rankings, spanning from Feb. 20 when they debuted at No. 23 through the NCAA Super Regional May 22 as they concluded 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. Previously, the 2003 and 2008 squads had maintained a Top 25 ranking for eight consecutive weeks.

Ohio State is 98-48 all-time when ranked, including 43-13 at home when owning a Top 25 mark. 

A TRIPLE-THREAT TRIO
For a second-consecutive year, seniors Whitney Cooper, Sam Marder and Courtney Pruner will serve as Ohio State captains.

“Whitney, Sam and Courtney will represent an outstanding team of young women as tri-captains this season,” Linda Kalafatis said. “It’s no mistake that all three repeat as captains again in their senior year after serving in this role along side of last year senior Kim Reeder.

“I like that each represents a different position group and that they understand the privilege of serving their team members as captains. We have high expectations for the upcoming season and these three will have crucial roles in keeping our team focused and working hard. They’ve got a great group to work with and I am confident that they’ll do a great job of leading the way for us.”

MARDER NAMED TO P.O.Y WATCH LIST
Two-time All-American Sam Marder was selected to the 2010 USA Softball Collegiate Player of the Year Top 50 Watch List for the third-consecutive season.

Known for her prowess at the plate, Marder already owns the Ohio State home run record with 43 in her career, despite leading the NCAA in bases on balls as both a sophomore (60) and junior (67). In three seasons, she has been walked 171 times, which also ranks as the most in school history.

Earning All-America honors in 2008 and ’09, Marder, a history major from Calabasas, Calif., is just the second Ohio State softball player to receive two national laurels and has the opportunity to become the most decorated Buckeye as a senior.

POWER HITTING
The Buckeyes return a dynamic hitting trio in Sam Marder, Courtney Pruner and Alicia Herron. With their help a season ago, Ohio State outscored its opponents, 329-120, as Marder knocked in a program-high 19 home runs to take over No. 1 in the record book with 43 in her career. Herron contributed 14 homers, the most by any Buckeye freshman, as Pruner chipped in 12.

GIVE HER A PROMOTION
Ali Viola was promoted to associate head coach of the Buckeyes prior to the start of the 2010 season. Viola will be serving her fifth year at Ohio State this year, working primarily with the Buckeye infield, as well as tutoring the team’s power hitters.

“Ali is very deserving of this promotion,” Linda Kalafatis said. “She brings a lot of experience to this program after coaching at four different universities. Ali has been an instrumental part of this program so I was proud to announce the decision to the team today.”

Viola has shared the credit for the Buckeyes’ success over the last few seasons – including their run to the 2009 NCAA Super Regionals, one of Ohio State’s three appearances at the national tournament (2006, ’07 and ’09) in her four years with the program. In just her second season, Viola assisted in guiding the Buckeyes to a Big Ten Championship in 2007.

A LOOK BACK AT 2009
A veteran Ohio State squad rewrote the program history book, tying the best 10-game start (9-1), recording the second-most wins (47) against one of its toughest schedules and making its first appearance at the NCAA Super Regional.

The Buckeyes opened the year with a 4-1 appearance at the New Mexico State Tournament before capturing the Easton Tiger Classic with a perfect 5-0 performance, including three wins over ranked opponents in Baton Rouge, La. Senior pitcher Kim Reeder was named the MVP of the LSU Tournament after striking out 22 opponents, fanning 11 batters in seven innings vs. No. 5 Texas A&M Feb. 15. Junior catcher Sam Marder and classmate Courtney Pruner joined Reeder on the All-Tournament Team.

Ohio State continued its stellar play throughout the season, posting a 47-11 overall record, including an 18-2 mark at home and 16-4 Big Ten ledger to finish second in the league. The Buckeyes went on two 11 game win streaks throughout the season as it climbed the national rankings from 23rd to 12th. In March, head coach Linda Kalafatis earned her 700th career win as Ohio State defeated Eastern Michigan, 11-3, in five innings at Ulmer Stadium in the its final game of the Cardinal Tournament in Louisville, Ky.

In the circle, Reeder ended her brilliant Buckeye career with the most wins (77) and strike outs (706) in 115 starts and 72 complete games. From 2006-09, Reeder pitched 763.2 innings and recorded the second-most shutouts (21).