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Ohio State at USF ‘The Game’ Tournament
March 19-21, 2010
Location: Clearwater, Fla.
Field: Eddie C. Moore Complex
Tickets:  3-Day Tournament Package: Adults – $15; Students (6-17) – $10; Single Day tickets: Adults – $8; Students – $6; Children (5 and under) – free. (Purchase through Ticketmaster)
Tournament Central: http://www.gousfbulls.com/ViewArticle.dbml?&DB_OEM_ID=7700&ATCLID=204825742

COLUMBUS, Ohio – The No. 16/17 Ohio State softball team (13-6) heads out for its final early season tournament, playing five games at the 2010 USF ‘The Game’ Tournament in Clearwater, Fla., Friday-Sunday.

The Buckeyes open the tournament against Syracuse and Long Island at 11 a.m. and 1 p.m., respectively, Friday. The team then plays North Florida and Florida Atlantic at noon and 3 p.m. Saturday before wrapping up tournament action against Florida Gulf Coast at 11 a.m. Sunday.

Ohio State remains in the Sunshine State for three more games, playing South Florida at 6 p.m. Tuesday in Tampa before moving on to Orlando to face Central Florida and Cornell at 11 a.m. and 1:30 p.m., respectively.

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

ALL-TIME SERIES
Ohio State vs.
Syracuse: 2-0, last meeting in 2001; The last time Ohio State faced Syracuse also was the first meeting between the programs. The Buckeyes defeated the Orange, 3-0 and 3-2, Feb. 10-11 at the Auburn Invitational.   

Long Island: 2-0, last meeting in 2007; OSU and LIU last met in the 2007 South Florida tournament in Clearwater with the Buckeyes taking a 5-4 extra inning win over the Blackbirds.

North Florida: First meeting.

Florida Atlantic: 2-4, last meeting in 2005; The Buckeyes fell, 12-3, at Florida Atlantic in 2005 after defeating FAU, 4-3, at the NFCA Leadoff Classic in 2004. OSU earned its first win over the Owls in 2001, another 4-3 victory, in Miami.

Florida Gulf Coast: First meeting.

South Florida: 1-4, last meeting in 2004; Ohio State last met USF in the 2004 NCAA Regional in Tallahassee, Fla., dropping a 2-0 decision in its first of three games at the regional. The Buckeyes recorded their first win against the Bulls in 1998, a 1-0 victory at the Louisville Slugger Tournament on March 1.

Central Florida: 1-2, last meeting in 2006; OSU won the first meeting (9-6, March 23) between the programs in 2002 before dropping two games (2-1 (8) and 8-6, Feb. 18-19) to UCF at the Stetson Tournament in 2006.

Cornell: First meeting.

BUCKEYES QUICK HITS
– Sophomore Alicia Herron leads the squad, batting .404 while recording 14 RBI, five doubles and three home runs, including a seventh inning grand slam against Oregon State Feb. 27 in Palm Springs.
– Senior catcher Sam Marder leads the squad with 17 RBI this season and has 163 in her career – three shy of tying the all-time program record.
– The Buckeyes have out-hit their opponents, 150-106, this season. Herron has a team-high 23 hits while senior designated player Courtney Pruner has posted 22, Marder 19 and junior Dee Dee Hillman 17.
– All three Ohio State pitchers are seeing a lot of time on the mound with freshman Melanie Nichols throwing 50 innings, Lindsay Bodeker 43.1 and Megan Miller 33.2. The pitching corps has an ERA of 3.12 while its opponents have combined for a 5.88 ERA.
– 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 CLEARWATER
This will be Ohio State’s first time playing in Clearwater, Fla., since the 2007 South Florida adidas Invitational. The Buckeyes went 5-3 at the tournament with wins over Fordham, Robert Morris, Virginia Tech, Long Island and Massachusetts.

ON THE ROAD
Ohio State opened 2010 with five-consecutive early-season tournaments on the road, playing 27 away games before hosting a Big Ten series vs. Wisconsin March 27-28 in Columbus.

The Buckeyes went 20-3 during their 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 13-6 after posting a 3-1 record at the aTen Construction Tournament in Riverside, Calif. Ohio State also went 4-1 vs. a tough slate at the 2010 Cathedral City Classic in Palm Springs, Calif. The Buckeyes shut out then-No. 5 UCLA, 7-0, Feb. 28.

To open the season, the Scarlet and Gray won the Marriott Houston Hobby Classic Tournament with a 4-1 record Feb. 12-14 and finished second at the Hatter Invitational (2-3) Feb. 19-21. Ohio State had to play then-No. 8/9 Alabama three times in DeLand, Fla., losing two heartbreaking decisions, a 5-3 defeat Feb. 19 and 5-4 loss Feb. 20, before falling, 7-1, in the championship game Feb. 21.

I’LL TAKE A SAM MARDER, PLEASE
On Tuesday, senior catcher Sam Marder was inducted into the first annual sandwich club at Sloopy’s, a restaurant in Ohio State’s newly renovated student union.

From June 2010 until June 2011, Ohio State students will be able to order a Sam Marder Bistro Turkey at Sloopy’s. For her athletic and academic laurels, Marder was selected out of more than 200 applications for the honor. In total, 13 sandwiches are being named each year at the restaurant.

HERRON’S HITTING
Although she still is not satisfied, sophomore Alicia Herron has to be happy she is leading the team with a .404 batting average. The Cypress, Calif., native hit .462 at the aTen Construction Tournament, recording four RBI off of two doubles.

Junior Rachael Shepherd tied Herron for the team lead also posting four RBI while batting .400 on the weekend March 5-7.

THE STRIKEOUT BATTLE
Freshman Melanie Nichols recorded 11 strikeouts at the aTen Construction Tournament in three appearances while posting two wins. On the season, Nichols is just one strikeout shy of the team lead held by redshirt junior Lindsay Bodeker. Nichols has 41 while Bodeker has 42.

GOING STREAKING
Junior outfielder Dee Dee Hillman is on a team-leading eight-game hitting streak. Hillman currently has the second-best batting average (.395) in 13 games.

Senior power hitter Sam Marder’s 10-game hitting streak came to an end against Fresno State Feb. 26. The catcher owns a .373 batting average with 19 hits, 17 RBI, 16 runs scored and 10 homers.

JUMPING AHEAD
The Buckeyes are 7-0 when scoring in the first inning. Ohio State jumped to a 5-1 lead over East Tennessee and 4-0 lead vs. UC Riverside in the first stanza of play en route to two victories March 6.

THE BUCKEYES ARE RUNNING
Aggressive running helped Ohio State to its first 10 wins of the season. The Buckeyes were a perfect 15-15 when stealing in their first 15 games of 2010.

Senior Whitney Cooper and sophomore Katie Simonton lead the squad with four stolen bases while junior Dee Dee Hillman is 3-3. Junior Brittany Goodchild and Vanessa Spears are both 2-2 when stealing.

STEALING HOME
Pinch running against No. 5 UCLA, junior Brittany Goodchild stole home on a UCLA miscue to add to the Buckeyes’ lead en route to a 7-0 victory Feb. 28.

ON THE MARK
Senior Courtney Pruner batted .529 at the Hatter Invitational Feb. 19-21, including a 4-4 appearance vs. Stetson (2 runs, 2 RBI, 1 2B and 1 HR) Feb. 19 and a 3-3 outing vs. No. 8/9 Alabama Feb. 21. On the weekend, the Akron, Ohio, native recorded nine hits, three RBI and two runs.

Junior Dee Dee Hillman had the second-best batting average (.474) with nine hits, four runs, two RBI and two stolen bases.

13 AND 12
Ohio State recorded a season-high 13 runs and 12 RBI, batting .324 against East Tennessee March 5. The Buckeyes also had a season-high four home runs from three different players, including two from senior Courtney Pruner.

AND IT’S GONE
The Buckeyes have seen six players combine for 24 home runs this season with Sam Marder recording a team-high 10 in 19 games while boosting her Ohio State all-time career record to 53. Senior Courtney Pruner, who has 31 homers in her career sit at No. 3 all-time in the history books, has knocked five over the fence this season.

The Scarlet and Gray pitching corps has allowed opponents to hit just eight home runs so far this season.

UP NEXT
Ohio State opens its 2010 home schedule and Big Ten slate vs. Wisconsin March 27-28 at Buckeye Field. Both contests will be held at 2 p.m.