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Ohio State plays No. 8/9 Alabama twice, URI, Stetson in DeLand, Fla.

Ohio State at Hatter Invitational
Feb. 19-21, 2010
Field:
Patricia Wilson Field (capacity: 1,000)
Location: DeLand, Fla.
Host website: GoHatters.com

COLUMBUS, Ohio – The No. 14 Ohio State softball team (4-1) heads off to its second of five early season tournaments on the road, playing five games at the Hatter Invitational Friday-Sunday hosted by Stetson in DeLand, Fla.

The squad opens the weekend vs. No. 8/9 Alabama at 1:30 p.m. Friday before playing tournament host Stetson at 6:30 p.m. On day two, the Buckeyes meet the Crimson Tide for a second time at 11 a.m. and finish the day vs. Rhode Island at 1:30 p.m.

On Sunday, Ohio State will play in either the championship or consolation game, depending upon its results from the first two days. The championship and consolation games will be played at 10 a.m. and noon Sunday.

KALFATIS ON THE WEEKEND
“We look to continue improving and setting in offensively,” Linda Kalafatis said. “We faced some good pitching last week but we were a bit anxious playing in our first tournament of the season. We need to build from last week and never be satisfied.”

FOLLOWING FROM HOME
A link for live stats and live streaming can be found on the softball schedule page at OhioStateBuckeyes.com and GoHatters.com.

ALL-TIME SERIES
Ohio State vs.
Alabama: 2-1, last meeting in 2006; Last time out, Ohio State stole a 3-1 win at Alabama, ranked sixth in the nation at the time, March 3, 2006, in the Hampton Inn Crimson Classic in Tuscaloosa, Ala. The Buckeyes went 3-2 at the classic en route to a 39-23 overall ledger.

Rhode Island: 1-0, last meeting in 1986; The game Saturday will be the first meeting between Ohio State and URI since the Buckeyes defeated vs. the Rams April 12 at the Penn State Tournament.  

Stetson: 3-1, last meeting in 2008; Last time in DeLand, Fla., Ohio State took two games vs. Stetson, 5-2 and 6-5, Feb. 9-10 at the 2008 Stetson Leadoff Classic. The Buckeyes finished the tournament with a perfect 5-0 record. OSU also played the Hatters in an early season tournament in 2006, splitting the meeting with a 2-0 loss Feb. 18 before bouncing back with a 5-2 win Feb. 19.  

BUCKEYES QUICK HITS

  • The Ohio State pitching corps owns a 0.62 collective ERA through five games.
  • Three Buckeyes in Sam Marder, Leah Ledford and Karisa Medrano have started 2010 off batting .500. The squad outscored its opponents, 16-6, last weekend in Houston.
  • Ohio State returns 14 letterwinners and seven starters from its 2009 squad that went 47-11 and 16-4 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.

IN DELAND
This is Ohio State’s third trip to DeLand, Fla., in five seasons. The Buckeyes have 11 student-athletes with experience in DeLand, as the 2008 team posted a 5-0 ledger in the Stetson Leadoff Classic that season. In 2006, the Scarlet and Gray went 1-3 in DeLand with their victory coming against Stetson, 5-2, Feb. 19 after falling, 2-0, the previous day to the Hatters.

2008 Stetson Leadoff Classic
W, 2-0 vs. Detroit Feb. 8
W, 8-0 vs. Marist Feb. 8
W, 7-1 vs. Marist Feb. 9
W, 5-2 vs. Stetson Feb. 9
W, 6-5 vs. Stetson Feb. 10  

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.

So far this season, the Buckeyes are 4-1 after winning the Marriott Houston Hobby Classic Tournament in Houston, Texas. After a 1-0 loss to Houston last Friday, Ohio State recorded four-consecutive wins, including two vs. ranked opponents in then-No. 15 Baylor and then-No. 21 Louisville.

BUCKEYES LOVE WINNING
With the 2-0 win vs. Louisville on Valentine’s Day last Sunday, Ohio State won the Marriott Houston Hobby Classic with a 4-1 record. With matching 4-1 ledgers at the conclusion of the classic, the Buckeyes won the tiebreaker over the Cardinals by virtue of their head-to-head victory.

MARDER MAGIC
Senior catcher Sam Marder was named Big Ten Player of the Week Monday, her fifth-career honor, after batting .500 through five games, including a 1.700 slugging percentage. Marder recorded six RBI off of four home runs. She now has 47 career home runs, distancing herself from second place in Ohio State’s all-time record book by six. The two-time All-American has 152 career RBI and is just 14 shy from tying the program record.

Against No. 15 Baylor Saturday, her second-inning homer jump started the Buckeyes’ 4-3 comeback win. Batting in the No. 2 spot, Marder sent in the first runs vs. Sam Houston State, Baylor, Louisville and Kansas last weekend.  Behind the plate, she recorded 37 putouts and three assists with no errors.

TAKE A BASE
Two-time All-American Sam Marder was walked eight times, including four intentional, in Ohio State’s opening weekend. She has been walked 179 times in her career, the most in Buckeye history. Since she joined Ohio State in 2007, Marder has been put on base intentionally 42 times – by far the most in school history dating back to the 1998 season. The second-most times a Buckeye had been intentionally walked in a career in the last decade is six.

BEGINNERS LUCK
Freshman pitcher Melanie Nichols has started her Ohio State career off on the right foot, winning two games for the Buckeyes last weekend at the Marriott Houston Hobby Classic. In 14.2 innings pitched, the San Jacinto, Calif., native fanned a team-high 16 batters while allowing just six hits.

Earning her first start and win vs. a Top 25 Baylor team last Saturday, Nichols threw her first career complete game with six strikeouts. Coming in to relieve senior pitcher Megan Miller vs. Kansas last Sunday, she threw a perfect game through six innings, striking out six while allowing no hits and walking no batters.

BACK IN ACTION
After spending the offseason rehabbing, redshirt junior Lindsay Bodeker is back on the mound for Ohio State with a 1-1 record and 0.62 ERA. In a complete game vs. Louisville last Sunday, Bodeker threw seven strikeouts while allowing just three hits. Against Houston last Friday, she threw 4.1 innings with seven strikeouts.

DOUBLE TROUBLE
Four Buckeyes in Alicia Herron, Karisa Medrano, Courtney Pruner and Rebecca Schultz have hit two doubles so far this season. Pruner and Medrano hit a pair of RBI doubles vs. Kansas last Sunday to propel Ohio State to a 4-2 victory.

AND IT’S GONE
The Buckeyes have seen three players hit home runs this season with Sam Marder recording a team-high four in five games. Senior Courtney Pruner, who has 27 homers in her career, knocked one over the fence vs. Sam Houston State to put the Buckeyes up 3-0 Saturday. Later in the day, junior Rachael Shepherd hit a leadoff homer in sixth inning to put Ohio State within one of Baylor in an eventual 4-3 OSU win.

The Scarlet and Gray pitching corps has not allowed an opponent to hit a home run so far this season.

WINNING WAYS
Since 2000, Ohio State has won 384 games, which is the third-highest win total in the Big Ten during that time. The Buckeyes own a .658 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, currently ranked 14th in both the NFCA and USA Softball polls, is 102-49 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 47 in her career, despite leading the NCAA in bases on balls as both a sophomore (60) and junior (67). In her career, she has been walked 179 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 career homers in three seasons. Herron contributed 14 homers, the most by any Buckeye freshman, as Pruner chipped in 12.