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Buckeyes meet Hawkeyes at 3 p.m. ET Saturday, 2 p.m. Sunday at Pearl Field

COLUMBUS, Ohio – After splitting a doubleheader vs. No. 2 Michigan last Wednesday, the No. 19/24 Ohio State softball team (31-12, 10-2 Big Ten) will face Iowa (23-17, 8-3 Big Ten) at 3 p.m. ET Saturday and 2 p.m. ET Sunday at Pearl Field in Iowa City, Iowa.

The Buckeyes are 10-1 in their last 11 games after recording a 10-game winning streak, including a 5-3 victory over the Wolverines last Wednesday at Buckeye Field. OSU’s run was snapped with a 4-3 loss to Michigan in game two of a doubleheader.

Iowa enters the weekend on a three-game losing skid, dropping a Big Ten series at Penn State and falling to Northern Iowa, 8-7, in eight innings. This season the Hawkeyes opened conference action with five-consecutive wins, downing Michigan State, Indiana and Northwestern (one game) before splitting with Purdue.

PRE-GAME FESTIVITIES
Tom Brands, head coach of the Iowa wrestling team, will throw out the first pitch before game two in the Ohio State-Iowa series slated for 2 p.m. ET Sunday.

Brands recently led the Hawkeye wrestling team to its third-consecutive national championship, and its 23rd title overall.

FOLLOWING FROM HOME
The Ohio State-Iowa series will be streamed live on BigTenNetwork.com and re-aired on the Big Ten Network. Game one of the series will be re-aired at 7 p.m. Sunday while game two will debut on the conference network at 10 p.m. Monday.

In addition, a link for live stats can be found on the softball schedule page at OhioStateBuckeyes.com.

ALL-TIME SERIES
Ohio State trails Iowa in the all-time series record, 34-59. However, in the last three seasons, the Buckeyes have been able to start chipping away at the deficit, splitting its league series with the Hawkeyes each season.

Last season both teams held a Top 25 ranking when they met in Columbus. OSU took game one, 3-0, March 28 before falling, 12-4, in game two March 29. The Buckeyes dropped just four Big Ten games in 2009 as they finished second in the league.

BUCKEYE QUICK HITS
– Sophomore Alicia Herron leads the squad and the Big Ten, batting .432 overall. The shortstop has started all 43 Buckeye games and is first on the team with 39 RBI, 13 doubles and three triples while hitting eight home runs. Herron is fifth on the all-time OSU home run list with 22 in two seasons.
– Senior catcher Sam Marder leads the squad and the Big Ten with 16 home runs. She also is second on the squad with 38 RBI this season. Marder holds first on the all-time Ohio State record lists for home runs (59), RBI (184) and walks (216). With four runs scored against Minnesota last weekend, Marder moved into third on the all-time record list and now has 143 in her career.
– Senior designated player Courtney Pruner is third on the all-time RBI and home run lists with 150 and 35, respectively. Pruner is just 16 RBI and six home runs shy of tying for second in both categories.
– Freshman Melanie Nichols leads the Buckeyes in wins (18), strikeouts (115), ERA (1.81) and innings pitched (143.0). The OSU pitching corps has a combined ERA of 2.39 while its opponents have combined for a 5.93 ERA.
– Ohio State returned 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.

LOOKING AT OHIO STATE
The Buckeyes are 18-3 in their last 21 games after sweeping three-consecutive Big Ten teams in Michigan State (April 17-18), Indiana (April 21) and Minnesota (April 24-25). Ohio State also has earned a split with then-No. 18 Illinois (April 10-11) and No. 2 Michigan (April 28).

In the last six games, junior Dee Dee Hillman owns a .474 batting average after hitting .714 against Minnesota last weekend. The leadoff hitter went 5-for-7 against the Gophers, scoring two runs. Sophomore Alicia Herron is second with a .429 batting average while recording a team-high nine RBI and six runs scored.

IN THE BIG TEN
After a sweep of Minnesota last weekend, Ohio State moved into second place in the Big Ten standings and held onto its position by earning a split with top-ranked Michigan (14-1 Big Ten). Illinois is currently third with an 8-2 ledger while Iowa is right in the mix at 8-3.

The Buckeyes have swept Wisconsin (March 27), Michigan State (April 17-18), Indiana (April 21) and Minnesota (April 24-25) while splitting a series vs. Illinois (April 10-11) and Michigan (April 28). April 7, Ohio State lost two games to Mother Nature while visiting Purdue in West Lafayette.

As a team, the Scarlet and Gray ranked third in the league with a .305 team batting average and 2.39 combined ERA.

Sophomore Alicia Herron leads the league with a .432 overall batting average and 60 hits while holding second with 13 doubles. Senior Sam Marder leads the Big Ten with a .557 on base percentage, 16 home runs and 45 walks. Marder is second in the conference with an .861 slugging percentage.

Freshman pitcher Melanie Nichols owns the third-best ERA in the conference with a 1.81, sitting behind Michigan’s Jordan Taylor (1.33 ERA, 21-3 record, 157.2 IP, 245 SO) and Illinois’ Pepper Gay (1.64 ERA, 12-1, 81.0 IP, 77 SO).

AGAINST THE CONFERENCE
In Big Ten games only, sophomore shortstop Alicia Herron is hitting a team-best .429 with 18 RBI and 12 runs scored.

Junior Dee Dee Hillman is second with a .395 batting average while senior Courtney Pruner is third with a 3.94 mean. Hillman is tied with senior Sam Marder for second with 13 runs scored while Pruner is tied with Marder for second with 13 RBI. Senior Whitney Cooper leads the squad with 14 runs scored.

Freshman pitcher Melanie Nichols is 7-1 against Big Ten foes, winning all five-consecutive games last week. The San Jacinto, Calif., native owns a 1.23 ERA against league opponents and has fanned 43 batters.

HOME FIELD ADVANTAGE
Ohio State owns a 12-1 record at home in 2010, outscoring its opponents, 99-36, at Buckeye Field.

At home, sophomore Alicia Herron leads the squad with a .500 batting average while recording 17 RBI and scoring 15 runs. The Cypress, Calif., native has hit six of her team-leading 13 doubles at Buckeye Field while going long four times. Junior leadoff hitter Dee Dee Hillman is second with a .412 batting average and has scored the most runs, crossing home plate 16 times.

With 10 of her 18 wins coming at home, freshman Melanie Nichols owns a team-best 1.49 ERA while pitching 56.1 innings at Buckeye Field.

ONE FOR THE SENIORS
The 5-3 upset victory vs. No. 2 Michigan last Wednesday was one the Ohio State senior class will remember. Powered by home runs from seniors Courtney Pruner and Rebecca Schultz, the Buckeyes delivered the Wolverines their first conference loss in 2010 while notching the class’ first career win vs. UM.

For Pruner, it took just one pitch to air mail her ninth home run of the season over the left field wall to give OSU a 3-0 lead in the first. In the bottom of the fourth, Schultz, who had a 3-1 count, added two more runs on the board as she hit her second homer of the year and fourth career.

FLIRTING WITH A SWEEP
After falling behind 4-0 in game two vs. No. 2 Michigan last Wednesday, Ohio State put up three runs in the bottom of the fourth to make it a one-run game. The Buckeyes then loaded the bases in the sixth but Michigan’s Jordan Taylor, who leads the league with 245 strikeouts, was able to escape the inning.

For the game, Ohio State had seven hits while Michigan had eight.

IN THE BIG GAMES
Senior Courtney Pruner has proven to be a vital part of the Ohio State team in the clutch, providing strong at-bats against both Top 25-ranked Illinois (April 10-11) and Michigan (April 28).

The Akron, Ohio, native batted .400 vs. two of the nation’s top pitchers last Wednesday, going 2-for-5 with a three-run home run in the 5-3 victory vs. Michigan. Against the Illini, Pruner was the hardest batter to get out, going 6-for-7 with seven RBI and three runs scored. She homered twice vs. Illinois, including a grand slam in Ohio State’s 10-2 victory April 11.

10 IN A ROW
Between April 11-28, Ohio State recorded a 10-game win streak with freshman pitcher Melanie Nichols recording the ‘W’ in seven games. Nichols won five-consecutive games for the Buckeyes, sweeping Indiana (April 21) and Minnesota (April 24-25) before helping Ohio State to its first victory over No. 2 Michigan since the 2003 season.

In that 10-game stretch, Nichols went 7-0 with a 0.85 ERA while allowing just five earned runs, striking out 37 and walking seven, five of which came vs. Michigan.

WITH RUNNERS ON THIRD
In 12 opportunities, freshman Megan Coletta has recorded 10 RBI with runners on third and less than two outs for a team-best .833 average. Senior Courtney Pruner and junior Dee Dee Hillman are tied with a .667 percentage while sophomore Alicia Herron is third with a .636 average.

SCHULTZ HOMERS
Senior Rebecca Schultz hit her first home run of the season, a solo shot over the left field wall in the third inning of game two vs. Indiana April 21.

And just a week later, the first baseman helped solidify Ohio State’s 5-3 victory over No. 2 Michigan with a two-run home run in the bottom of the fourth Wednesday.

She has four career homers after hitting two in both her junior and senior campaigns.

DOUBLE TROUBLE
Sophomore Alicia Herron leads Ohio State with 13 doubles while 13 Buckeyes have combined for a total of 64 doubles on the year. Senior Whitney Cooper has eight for second on the team while classmate Courtney Pruner has hit seven and Sam Marder has recorded six doubles.

Senior Rebecca Schultz and junior Dee Dee Hillman have five each while juniors Brittany Goodchild, Karisa Medrano and Rachael Shepherd also have chipped in four apiece.

JUMPING AHEAD
The Buckeyes are 18-1 when scoring in the first inning in 2010. Ohio State took a 3-0 lead over Michigan in game one last Wednesday after senior Courtney Pruner hit a first pitch, three run home run off Jordan Taylor. The Scarlet and Gray eventually won the game, 5-3.

Last weekend, Ohio State took a 4-0 lead against Minnesota in the first inning Sunday en route to a 13-5 run-rule victory.

Ohio State’s lone loss came to Syracuse March 19 in Clearwater, Fla. The Buckeyes scored a single run in the bottom of the first but was unable to gain momentum, eventually falling, 11-3, in five innings.

AND IT’S GONE
In the last eight games, Ohio State has hit 14 home runs to up its total to 47 this season. Last Wednesday, seniors Courtney Pruner and Rebecca Schultz hit multiple-run home runs to propel the Buckeyes past No. 2 Michigan. For Pruner, it was the 35th home run of her career and is just six shy of tying for second in the all-time OSU record book.

Against Indiana and Minnesota, Ohio State combined for seven homers including a grand slam by Sam Marder last Sunday.

The senior catcher has launched a team-high 16 in 43 games while boosting her Ohio State all-time career record to 59. Sophomore Alicia Herron also has added eight home runs this season and holds fifth on the all-time Buckeye record book with 22 in her career.

The Scarlet and Gray pitching corps has allowed its opponents to hit just 18 home runs so far this season.

LEADING OFF
Of Ohio State’s 47 home runs, 11 have been leadoff homers. The Buckeyes are 9-2 when they have an individual hit a leadoff home run.

TAKE A BASE
Two-time All-American Sam Marder has been walked 45 times this season, including 16 intentional. She has been walked 216 times in her career, the most in Buckeye history. Since she joined Ohio State in 2007, Marder has been put on base intentionally 54 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.

18-2
Freshman pitcher Melanie Nichols came in prepared for Division I NCAA fast pitch softball. The rookie leads Ohio State with 18 wins, 115 strikeouts and an ERA of 1.81 in 143.0 innings pitched.

Nichols’ first loss of the season came to Central Florida March 24 as the Knights scored one earned and two unearned runs in a 3-0 defeat of the Buckeyes. April 11, the freshman battled hard against a strong Illinois team, which ranked third in the nation in runs per game, holding the Illini hitters to just three runs off of seven hits in the 3-2 loss.