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Nov. 21, 2006

COLUMBUS, Ohio – The Ohio State softball program has received commitments from five prep standouts to become first-year Buckeyes in the fall of 2007, head coach Linda Kalafatis announced. Two signees are from Ohio, while two are from California and one is the first New Mexico native signed by Kalafatis.

The group includes Brittany Goodchild (West Hills, Calif./El Camino), Dee Dee Hillman (Defiance, Ohio/Defiance), Karisa Medrano (Albuquerque, N.M./St. Pius), Carissa “Nic” Perales (San Jose, Calif./Valley Christian) and Rachel Shepherd (West Chester, Ohio/Lakota West).

When the five arrive in Columbus next fall, they will have big shoes to fill in replacing the Buckeyes’ five seniors on the team this coming spring, four of which have been four-year starters and the fifth will be a two-year starter after transferring to the team before last spring.

“We have a tremendous group of seniors and somehow we’ll have to replace them,” Kalafatis said. “It’ll be tough to replace five impact players, but I believe we are bringing in five impact players. And four of our signees are lefties, which is an important element we needed to fill. This new group is very talented and versatile.”

“With Dee Dee and Rachel, we think we have the two of best players in Ohio to go along with three other very good players,” Kalafatis said. “We really like the athleticism and versatility of this class. All of them are top of the order kids who have batted first, second or third for their teams and who are going to hit for average and occasionally pop one out. They allow us to continue to be the aggressive offensive hitting team we are.”

Goodchild, a left-handed outfielder who also pitches, was teammates in club softball with current Buckeyes Sam Marder and Megan Miller.

“Brittany has good speed and is a clutch hitter with some surprising pop in her bat,” Kalafatis said. “She comes from a quality club team, the Valley Breeze, and has been instructed well. We didn’t necessarily recruit her as a pitcher but we’ll see if she can help us there, too. She’ll help us replace a veteran outfield with Megan Schwab being a senior and Liz Caputo and Brittany Vanderink being juniors.”

Recruited as a second baseman, Hillman brings outstanding defensive ability as well as the ability to bunt, slap and hit away, usually from the first or second spot in the lineup.

“I have seen Dee Dee make jaw-dropping defensive plays,” Kalafatis said. “Her athletic ability really is exceptional. She’s naturally right-handed but does hit from the left side some. We’ll keep her batting from the left side and we’ll continue to develop her there as a triple-threat. Dee Dee has tremendous character and will be an excellent teammate.”

Medrano is a triple-threat leftie at the plate and has played primarily at shortstop and pitcher for her club team, the Arizona Suncats, where she was coached by OSU assistant coach Erica Beach’s father and sister.

“The fact Karisa plays both shortstop and pitcher tells you she is an exception athlete,” Kalafatis said. “She is our first signee from New Mexico and joins Dee Dee and Rachel to give us three quality infielders, which we went after with this class. She has the ability to hit it in the gap or drop a bunt to get on. This is her first year playing on a Gold team so she’ll continue to get valuable experience to prepare her for the Big Ten.”

As a left-handed centerfielder for the San Jose Sting, Perales plays for her father and developed skills on and off the field.

“Nic is a very mature kid and a team player and who is someone who I could see being a leader for us,” Kalafatis said. “We weren’t necessarily looking for an outfielder but said if we found one who was good offensively and solid defensively we would recruit her since we knew we were going to be losing three good ones in the next couple years. I think Nic is going to be a solid hitter for us. She fell in love with the pride and tradition of being a Buckeye as soon as she stepped on campus last summer.”

Shepherd, the only right-handed hitter of the group, played high school and club softball with current Buckeye Leah Ledford and possesses an exceptional arm, which she used primarily behind the plate and in the infield.

“Rachel is just an excellent athlete and we really like her versatility,” Kalafatis said. “She has a sweet swing and very surprising pop from someone her size. I saw her hit a home run in a high school state tournament game on our field when she was a freshman and knew she’d be one to follow. We always want to the best players in the state and Rachel, along with Dee Dee, has proven to be just that to us. They will represent Ohio well throughout their Buckeye careers.”

### GO BUCKS! ###