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May 18, 2004

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COLUMBUS, Ohio – No. 6-seed Ohio State (34-23; 8-11 Big Ten) will play No. 3 South Florida (57-12; 18-5 Conference USA) at 10 a.m. Thursday in Region No. 4 of the 2004 NCAA Softball Tournament at Tallahassee, Fla.

The double-elimination tournament consists of eight regions with eight teams in each region. The regional winners advance to the Women’s College World Series (WCWS), an eight-team, double-elimination tournament held at ASA Hall of Fame Stadium in Oklahoma City, Okla. The championship final is a single-game final. Regionals are being held May 20-23 and the WCWS is May 27-31.

ESPN and ESPN2 will be covering some of the tournament. For complete listings, the bracket and additional information concerning the 2004 NCAA Softball Tournament, please log on to ncaasports.com.

FOLLOW THE BUCKS ON THE NET
Florida State University, who is hosting Region 4 of the 2004 NCAA Softball Tournament will be web casting all the games at /sports/w-softbl/spec-rel/050304aaa.html. Additionally, fans can keep up with all the Region 4 happenings at /sports/w-softbl/spec-rel/04-region-four-home.html.

SECOND TRIP IN THREE YEARS
Ohio State, who was one of the 64 teams selected from around the nation to participate in the 2004 NCAA Softball Tournament, will be participating in its second NCAA tournament in the last three years under head coach Linda Kalafatis. Prior to the Buckeyes’ first trip under Kalafatis in 2002, an Ohio State team had not made the NCAA postseason tournament since 1990. NO. 6-SEED, AGAIN
The No. 6 seed seems to be the ticket for Ohio State. The Buckeyes were the No. 6-seed for the 2004 Big Ten Tournament in Ann Arbor, Mich., last weekend and Ohio State is also the No. 6-seed in the 2004 NCAA Softball Tournament.

FLASH BACK TO 2002
The 2002 season marked the last time a Buckeye softball squad made an NCAA appearance and 2002 was the first appearance for a Buckeye squad since 1990. Ohio State, who was the No.3-seed in Region 6, ended its 2002 season with a 55-14 record, finished second at both the NCAA Region 6 and Big Ten tournaments and established new marks in the OSU record books in 21 team and 15 individual categories. The Buckeyes added to their totals by earning a No. 13 ranking in the final National Fastpitch Coaches Association Coaches’ poll, the highest ever for the program, as well as finishing among the Top 10 in four team and four individual categories.

FIRST TO FLORIDA
While the 2004 Buckeyes managed to escape frigid Ohio earlier this spring to warm climates such as South Carolina, Georgia and Arizona, this is the Ohio State softball team’s first trip to sunny Florida this season.

BIG TEN TOURNEY RECAP
No. 6-seed Ohio State split the two games they competed in during the 2004 Big Ten Tournament last weekend at Alumni Field in Ann Arbor, Mich. In game one, the Buckeyes upset No. 3-seed Iowa, 5-1. Senior pitcher Kristi DeVries won her eighth-consecutive game as she threw her fourth complete one-hitter of the season and improved to 16-9 overall. DeVries contributed offensively as well for the Buckeyes with a two-run double in the top of the first, which put the first two Ohio State runs on the scoreboard. Iowa’s Lisa Birocci fell to 21-12 for the year.

Ohio State’s DeVries had a no-hitter heading into the bottom of the fifth and the Buckeyes held a 5-0 lead, but with one out, Iowa’ s Emily Gerlick hit a homerun. The only other Iowa base runner was Birocci, who was walked at the bottom of the second inning.

The Buckeyes fell to No. 2 Illinois, 5-0, in the semifinals of the 2004 Big Ten Tournament. The Fighting Illini, who eventually lost to No. 8-seed Michigan State in the championship game, tallied four runs at the top of the fourth inning to take a 4-0 lead and Ohio State was unable to answer offensively. The Buckeyes put five consecutive runners on base in the bottom of the fifth, but Illinois’ defense escaped without an Ohio State runner crossing home plate. OSU pitcher DeVries fell to 16-10 on the season as the Fighting Illini broke her eight-game winning streak. Illinois’ Amanda Fortune improved to 27-9 for the season.

(Note: The postseason conference tournament was expanded from six to eight teams this season.)

ALL BIG-TEN HONORS
Ohio State softball players Kristi DeVries, Jamee Juarez and Karisa Evans were awarded All-Big Ten honors this season. DeVries, a senior pitcher and first baseman from Corona, Calif., earned a spot on the second team as a utility player, while Juarez, a rookie pitcher and third baseman from La Puente, Calif., was the utility player on the third team. Evans, a junior outfielder from Franklin, Ohio, joined Juarez on the third team as an outfielder.

DeVries, who was a third team all-conference pick as a freshman, is 16-10 on the mound for Ohio State this season. Only the second player in Ohio State history to tally 600 career strikeouts, DeVries owns a 1.71 ERA this season and a 1.54 career ERA with a 59-28 overall record in four years at Ohio State. DeVries is batting .239 with 17 hits, six doubles and nine RBI.

Juarez has started in all 55 games she has played in wearing the Scarlet and Gray. With a .296 average, Juarez leads the squad with 36 RBI and has tallied 48 hits, 25 runs, 74 total bases, 12 doubles, one triple and four homeruns. Juarez is 12-10 from the mound with one save for the Buckeyes with a 1.82 ERA. Juarez has tallied 82 assists, 41 putouts, owns a .976 fielding percentage and has stolen 8-of-10 bases for the Buckeyes.

Evans has started in 56-of-57 contests this season and is one of only two Buckeyes to compete in all 57 games. She is batting .313 with 25 runs, 69 total bases and 51 hits, which ranks third on the team. Evans has notched five doubles, two triples, three homeruns and 19 RBI. In addition to six sacrifice hits and two sacrifice flies to her name, Evans has stolen 5-of-7 bases this year. Defensively, Evans owns a .949 fielding percentage and has marked 37 putouts.

LUCKY SIXES
Two of the Buckeyes last three regular-season victories were won in the sixth inning. Against Purdue, the Buckeyes laid on six runs at the top of the sixth to beat the Boilermakers and vs. Penn State, Ohio State tallied four scores at the top of the sixth to get the team’s eighth Big Ten win this season. The six-factor has continued for the Buckeyes as the team earned No. 6-seeds in both the Big Ten and NCAA tournaments.

SENIORS KEEP ADDING TO THE RECORD
The 2004 senior class of P/1B Kristi DeVries, 3B Breana Pozzi and 1B/DP Beth McAbier entered the 2004 season with 127 total victories in three years at OSU. The three student-athletes have been a part of 161 victories while wearing the Scarlet and Gray, which gives them the record for the winningest class in Ohio State history. The squad’s 6-4 midweek win in game one of a doubleheader vs. Kentucky April 21 tied the mark of 154 wins and a 1-0 victory at Illinois April 23 put them alone as the record holders. The senior class of 2003 held the previous record of 154 career victories. This season marks the third-consecutive season the Buckeye senior class has broken the school’s wins record.

A LOOK AT SOUTH FLORIDA
No. 3-seed South Florida is 57-12 overall and 18-5 in Conference USA games. The third-place team among CUSA leaders, the Bulls are No. 17 in both the USAToday/NFCA and ESPN.com/USA Softball Top 25 polls. USF is led by Carmela Liwag, who is one of two players to have started in all 69 games this season and was named to the 2004 Conference USA All-Tournament team as an infielder. Liwag bats .377, has 44 runs, 80 hits, a team-high 20 doubles, five homeruns and 47 RBI. While her offensive numbers are impressive, Liwag is not alone. Holly Groves bats .424 and leads the team with 17 homeruns, 89 hits, 158 total bases and 80 RBI. Kattrina Dowd, Shelly Riker and Samantha Ray all bat over .300 with marks of .379, .375 and .357, respectively. The team’s top pitcher Leigh Ann Ellis is 40-6 with a 0.81 ERA and a whopping 277 strikeouts this season. Head coach Ken Eriksen, who is in his eighth season at the helm of the USF program, has compiled a 370-184-1 record at the helm of the Bulls program.

OSU AND USF
Ohio State and South Florida have an even 1-1 record in the all-time series. The two teams met twice in 1998 at a Louisville Slugger Tournament. In game one Feb. 28, the Buckeyes fell, 3-2, and in game two March 1, Ohio State took a 1-0 victory. In her 16 years as a head coach, Ohio State head coach Linda Kalafatis has only met the Bulls while at the helm of the Buckeye program.

DEVRIES GETS NO. 500 AND NO. 600 THIS YEAR
Senior Kristi DeVries has lowered her ERA from 3.78 (as of Feb. 27) to her current 1.72 ERA. DeVries has reached two milestones this season with her 500th and 600th career strikeouts. DeVries caught the final Penn State batter swinging May 8 in State College, Pa., to account for her 11th strikeout of the day and her 600th career strikeout. DeVries is only the second Buckeye pitcher to total 600 career strikeouts. Former teammate Katie Chain, who graduated last year and is the OSU record holder, notched 692 during her four-year stint at OSU.

DeVries’ ninth and final strikeout at No. 15 Fresno State March 26 was her 500th career strikeout, making her just the second pitcher in Ohio State history to reach the 500 strikeout plateau.

DeVries has a total of 613 career strikeouts.

DEVRIES ADDING OFFENSE, TOO
While Ohio State pitcher and first baseman Kristi DeVries is contributing in a major way from the mound and as a part of the Buckeye defense, she is also adding to the Ohio State offense. In Big Ten games, she was batting .320 with a team-high five doubles (tied with Jamee Juarez), four RBI and a team-leading .520 slugging percentage and in the two games of the Big Ten tournament, DeVries was .429 at the plate, with one double, two RBI and four total bases.

FROSH FINDING WAY
Three freshman have made quite an impact for the Buckeyes this season. Jamee Juarez, a third-team All-Big Ten selection, Nycole Koyano, and Megan Schwab are starters for Ohio State and have made their way onto a number of freshman record lists among Ohio State annals. See below where the class of 2007 falls among current OSU freshman records.

Ohio State Freshman Records Batting Average 6. Koyano .329 9. Schwab .301 11. Juarez .296

Hits T5. Koyano 52 Schwab 52 T7. Juarez 48

Doubles T2. Schwab 13 T3. Juarez 12 (14 is the record)

Homeruns 2. Juarez 4 T3. Schwab 3

RBI 1. Juarez 36 T5. Schwab 24

Runs 2. Koyano 33 4. Schwab 28 6. Juarez 25 (38 is the record)

Stolen Bases 1. Koyano 16 T5. Schwab 9 T8. Juarez 8

Walks 1. Koyano 27 T8. Schwab 15

KOYANO ON FIRE IN LAST EIGHT WINS
Nycole Koyano has been on fire at the plate during the Buckeyes’ last eight victories. The rookie second baseman started all eight games and batted .407 with a team-high 11 hits and a team-best 13 RBI. She scored five runs, hit two doubles and owned a .481 slugging percentage and a .429 on-base percentage during the past eight victories.

JUAREZ SETS ROOKIE RBI RECORD
Jamee Juarez tallied two RBI in game one vs. Penn State May 8 and upped her career total to 36 RBI, which leads the team and broke the rookie RBI record of 35. Current team manager Kristine Himes held the previous record of 35, which she set in 2000.

EIGHT CONSECUTIVE
Ohio State pitcher Kristi DeVries had won eight-consecutive games on the mound for the Buckeyes before Ohio State’s 5-0 loss to No. 2-seed Illinois in the 2004 Big Ten Tournament. Her last eight victories had come vs. Kentucky, at Illinois, at Iowa, vs. Wright State, at Purdue, at Indiana, at Penn State and vs. Iowa. In her eight-consecutive wins, DeVries saw 189 batters, pitched 52.2 innings, tallied 58 strikeouts and compiled a 1.33 ERA.

BAKER SWIPING 10-FOR-10
Sophomore Chelsea Baker is 10-for-10 when it comes to stealing bases. She is one of five Buckeyes to have attempted at least 10 stolen bases this season and the only one with a perfect record. Last season, Baker attempted one and was caught trying to steal that base.

Rookie Nycole Koyano is holding her own as the squad’s leader with 16-of-18 stolen bases on the year. Sixteen stolen bases is an Ohio State freshman record. Baker and Koyano are the only two Buckeyes to have stolen 10 ore more bases this season.

TWO MORE SHUTOUTS FOR THE RECORD
Senior pitcher Kristi DeVries, who has won the last seven games she has started, blanked Illinois April 23, 1-0, for her 25th career shutout, which is just one shutout away from the Ohio State record of 26 held by Katie Chain (2000-03).

TWO IN EXTRA INNINGS
Ohio State won its first extra-inning game April 17 when it beat Michigan State, 8-7, in eight innings and tallied a second extra-inning victory when the Buckeyes beat the Hawkeyes of Iowa, 5-3, in game one April 25. Previously, Ohio State dropped a nine-inning game vs. Massachusetts Feb. 29 at the NFCA Leadoff Classic in Columbus, Ga., and lost to Minnesota in 10 innings, 1-0, during the Big Ten opener April 2 at Buckeye Field in Columbus, Ohio.

100 AND COUNTING FOR JUAREZ
With seven strikeouts in the 8-7 Buckeye win over Michigan State April 17, freshman pitcher Jamee Juarez upper her total to 102 strikeouts this season. She now has 111 total strikeouts and is ranked No. 4 on the all-time rookie records list. Juarez is only the fourth freshman pitcher in Buckeye history to reach the 100 strikeouts milestone and is 14 strikes from moving to No. 3 on the rookie record list.

RACKING UP THE MILES
The Ohio State softball team is on its fifth-consecutive road trip this weekend at Region No. 4 of the NCAA tourney in Tallahassee, Fla. The Buckeyes finished Big Ten play on the road the final three weekends of conference competition and traveled to Michigan for the 2004 Big Ten Tournament. OSU traveled to Illinois and Iowa April 23-25, Purdue and Indiana May 1-2 and finished up the regular-season Big Ten schedule at Penn State May 8-9.

THE BUCKEYES IN THE BIG TEN
In overall Big Ten statistics as of May 10, Ohio State boasted the league’s third-best offense with a .272 batting average and are fifth with a pitching staff that had tallied a 1.70 ERA. In addition, the Buckeyes rank third among Big Ten leaders in slugging percentage (.387) and third in on-base percentage (.343). OSU is No. 4 in the Big Ten for stolen bases (67).

Individually, rookie Megan Schwab is tied for third with 13 doubles. Freshman Nycole Koyano is tied for sixth among conference leaders in runs scored (33), sixth in on-base percentage (.431), tied for third for walks (27) and tied for No. 5 in stolen bases (16). Jamee Juarez ranked tied for fifth in RBI (36). Sophomore Chelsea Baker was No. 8 with a 1.58 ERA and senior Kristi DeVries ranked ninth in the league for strikeouts (174).

BUCKEYE BITS
– With a stolen base vs. Dayton April 7, Nycole Koyano set an Ohio State record for stolen bases by a freshman with 13. She has 16 for the season. The previous record of 12 was set by Candace Kollen in 1995.

– Sophomore Stacy Hibma’s home runs April 6 and 7 were her first of the season. Her second homer, a two-run shot vs. Dayton, accounted for her first career multi-RBI game.

– Karisa Evans, Jamee Juarez and Nycole Koyano each own a team-best 13 multi-hit games this season. Megan Schwab has 12 for the year.

– With a homerun vs. Butler last Tuesday, Chelsea Baker extended her hitting streak to nine games, which ended a game later but ranks as the best on the team this season. Baker has improved her batting average from .100 (as of March 6) to .303 (as of May 17).

– Koyano has upped her average from .105 (as of Feb. 28) to .329 (as of May 17).

– Koyano (at second base) has started all 57 games this year.

– Juarez’s 12 pitching wins rank fifth in Ohio State history for wins by a freshman. The record is 16 and is held by senior Kristi DeVries (2001).

– The Buckeyes have out-scored their opponents 64-23 in the first inning of games this season.

BUCKEYE LEADERS
– Nycole Koyano and Megan Schwab lead Ohio State in hits (52), followed by Karisa Evans, who has 51 on the season. Jamee Juarez and Ashley Cutcliff have nailed a team-high four homeruns, which leads OSU, followed by Evans, Chelsea Baker, Natalie Hales and Megan Schwab, who all have hit three dingers this season.

– Koyano is batting .329 with 12 RBI and a .348 on-base percentage and leads the team with 33 runs and 16 stolen bases (of 18 attempted). Her 33 runs scored are No. 2 among Buckeye all-time freshmen leaders (five from the record of 38 held by Candace Kollen) and her 16 stolen bases is a record for a rookie Buckeye softball player.

– Megan Schwab (.301) has 13 doubles, best on the squad. Jamee Juarez follows with 12 doubles.

– Juarez owns a team-best 36 RBI, while Schwab is next with 24.

– Ashley Cutcliff owns the best slugging percentage (.556) on the squad.

– Kristi DeVries (16-10, 1.72 ERA) owns a team-best 187 strikeouts in 163.0 innings pitched and opponents are hitting just .188 against her – a team high. Juarez (12-10, 1.82 ERA) owns 111 strikeouts and Baker is 6-3 with a 1.58 ERA.

KALAFATIS WINS NO. 250 AT OSU
With the Buckeyes’ 8-0 win vs. Dayton in the first game of a double-header April 7, Ohio State head coach Linda Kalafatis collected her 250th win at the helm of the Buckeye softball program. Already Ohio State’s all-time wins leader, Kalafatis has improved to 262-190-2 in her eighth season at Ohio State and 535-305-2 overall in 16 seasons as a collegiate head coach.

KALAFATIS REACHES MILESTONES
The 2003 season provided Ohio State head coach Linda Kalafatis with a pair of prestigious accomplishments. A 4-1 win vs. Toledo April 9 was Kalafatis’ school-record 221st while at Ohio State, surpassing the previous record of 220 set by Gail Davenport from 1989-1996. Then April 30 a 6-0 win vs. Marshall gave Kalafatis her 500th career victory as a collegiate head coach. Kalafatis is now 535-305-2 in her 16th season as a collegiate head coach and 262-190-2 in her eighth season at the helm of the Ohio State program.

FOWLER ADDED TO OSU STAFF
Former Buckeye standout Chrissy Fowler has joined the Ohio State softball coaching staff. Fowler, a 2002 OSU graduate, was a three-year starter for the Buckeyes from 2000-02 in the outfield and was an integral part of Ohio State’s record-setting teams in 2001 and 2002 that finished 46-18 and 55-14, respectively. In 2000, she was named the team’s scholar athlete of the year and earned the Buckeye spirit award. In 2001, she was named the team’s most improved player.

Fowler, who graduated with degrees in sociology and women’s studies, is a native of Utica, Ohio. Fowler will be coaching the Buckeye outfielders in place of Drema Neal, who is on medical leave.

CUTCLIFF, JUAREZ BUCKEYE INVITATIONAL ALL STARS
Ohio State junior Ashley Cutcliff and freshman Jamee Juarez both were named to the nine-member Buckeye Invitational All-Tournament Team. Cutcliff batted .833 (5-for-6) during the weekend with three RBI, while Juarez batted .556 (5-for-9) with a double, triple and four RBI. Juarez also went 1-0 on the mound with a 0.00 ERA in nine innings pitched.

BAKER, SCHWAB EARN HONORS AT WINTHROP INVITATIONAL
Ohio State’s Chelsea Baker and Megan Schwab both were named to the all-tournament team of the Winthrop Invitational March 12-14.

Baker went 2-0 with a 0.00 ERA in 15.0 innings during the tournament and tossed a one-hit shutout vs. Furman Saturday. She also was impressive with the bat, hitting .467 (7-for-15) with a double and home run.

Schwab batted .412 (7-for-17) during the weekend with two doubles, a home run and six RBI. Her home run, a leadoff homer vs. Jacksonville State, was her second of the season and her 4-for-4 performance vs. tournament host Winthrop was her second such perfect effort of the season.

DEVRIES PERFECT VS. WRIGHT STATE
Senior Kristi DeVries tossed a six-inning perfect game in Ohio State’s 8-0 mercy rule win vs. Wright State March 6 at the Dayton Flyer Invitational. DeVries set down all 18 Raider batters she faced, striking out a season-high 10 hitters and retiring the remaining eight batters with four ground-outs and four pop-outs. The Big Ten named her the league’s Pitcher of the Week for her efforts.

The game marked DeVries’ 20th career shutout (ranked 2nd all-time) and second career no-hitter, with her first coming April 17, 2002 vs. Morehead State. She took a perfect game into the seventh inning vs. Robert Morris as a freshman (March 20, 2001) but allowed a hit in the seventh inning.

SEVEN STARTERS BACK
Seven starters return for the Buckeyes in 2004, including senior P/1B Kristi DeVries (.288, 15 RBI, 12-8, 1.33 ERA), junior OF Karisa Evans (.345, 13 2b, 17 RBI), junior 1B/DP Ashley Cutcliff (.280, 5 HR), sophomore SS Billie Jo Carder (.271), junior OF Meghan Rowlands (.192), senior 1B/DP Beth McAbier (.185) and junior IF Jennifer Johnson (.169). A total of 13 letterwinners return.

DEVRIES, POZZI NAMED CAPTAINS
Senior P/1B Kristi DeVries and senior 3B Breana Pozzi have been selected as co-captains for the 2004 Buckeyes. DeVries is already near the top of most Ohio State pitching records and also has been a solid contributor at the plate for the Buckeyes, as well. Pozzi, who heads into the 2004 season as the starter at third base, has proven to be a spark at the plate for Ohio State. Nagging injuries hampered her junior season after she batted .329 with 12 RBI as a sophomore.

LOSSES FROM 2003 SQUAD
The 2003 senior class left Ohio State as the winningest class in the history of the program. 3B Kristine Himes, 2B Jennifer Link, IF Elizabeth Kacsanek, OF Rogeanna Hottinger, OF Amy Ellis, C Annie Dedic and P Katie Chain racked up 157 victories while wearing scarlet and gray.

Chain set career records at Ohio State for innings pitched (677.1), wins (67), strikeouts (692) and shutouts (26). She and Link received All-America honors in 2002, while Himes belted a school-record 41 career home runs.

2004 OUTLOOK
The Ohio State softball program is looking to return to their winning ways under the direction of head coach Linda Kalafatis, who is in her eighth season at the helm of the Buckeye program. A combination of new talent, experienced leaders, versatility and lights at Buckeye Field for the first time in program history should prove to add up to an exciting softball season in Columbus.

Ohio State finished 55-14 in 2002 but saw its record slip to 26-23 last season.

“We were not pleased with the second half of our season (last year) and I think that really has motivated our team,” Kalafatis said. “I think we have some very determined young ladies.”

In addition to a freshman class that will contribute immediately, Kalafatis is confident in her senior class, which consists of DeVries, McAbier and Pozzi.

“We have three seniors who are all capable of having their best seasons yet,” Kalafatis said. “So far they have provided good leadership for our team and they have the potential to leave as the winningest class in Ohio State softball history, like the two previous senior classes did.”

The pitching mound will have one of the Buckeyes’ leaders and all-time best pitchers this year in DeVries, who ranks second in career wins and strikeouts at Ohio State. The infield is perhaps where the most experience and the most versatility lies on the Buckeye squad. Returnees include DeVries, who doubles as a pitcher and first base player, McAbier, who led the team with 211 putouts last year at first base, Carder and Johnson, who shared time at shortstop last season, and Pozzi, who split time between third base and shortstop. A pair of catchers, junior Natalie Hales and sophomore Stacy Hibma, played in 16 and 28 games, respectively, last year. Rowlands, who played left field last season, will shift to center field this season and will be joined by returning starter junior Karisa Evans, who batted a team-high .345 in 2003.

PERFECTION IN THE FALL
Ohio State fashioned a perfect 9-0 record during the fall over two weekends of tournament play. Once again Ohio State hosted the Ohio Collegiate Charity Classic, which raised nearly $10,000 for breast cancer research. Kalafatis’ squad won the event with a 5-0 record for the third consecutive year. A week later, the Buckeyes were a flawless 4-0 at the Wright State Fall Tournament in Dayton, Ohio.