Feb. 15, 2005
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COLUMBUS, Ohio – The Ohio State softball team gets the 2005 season underway this weekend as the Buckeyes travel to Boca Raton, Fla., for the Florida Atlantic University Worth Invitational. Ninth-year Ohio State head coach Linda Kalafatis and 14 returning letterwinners are out to build on last season’s 35-25 overall record and trip to the NCAA Regional tournament in Tallahassee, Fla.
The trip to Boca Raton marks the first of three consecutive weekend trips for the Buckeyes to start the 2005 season. Ohio State will travel to Palm Springs, Calif., Feb. 25-27 followed by a trip to Atlanta, Ga., March 3-6.
AWARD WINNERS RETURN
Four Buckeyes who earned postseason awards in 2004 are back for Ohio State this spring. Senior RF/3B Karisa Evans was a third-team All-Big Ten selection last year after batting .312 with five doubles, three home runs and 20 RBI. Sophomore P/3B Jamee Juarez was also a third-team all-league pick and earned second-team Great Lakes All-Region honors as she hit .279 with 12 doubles, four home runs and 36 RBI. Sophomore 2B Nycole Koyano was also a second-team all-region selection as she posted a .327 batting average with a .418 on-base percentage, while sophomore LF Megan Schwab was a Big Ten All-Tournament Team honoree, hitting .295 with 13 doubles and three home runs with 25 RBI.
THREE CAPTAINS NAMED
In the offseason, the Buckeyes named three seniors as captains for the 2005 campaign. Those three are RF/3B Karisa Evans, C Natalie Hales and OF Meghan Rowlands, who combined to start 153 games last season. All three were Academic All-Big Ten selections.
SIZING UP THE COMPETITION
Ohio State will face four teams in Boca Raton before entering the seeded portion of the FAU Worth Invitational. The Buckeyes faced three of those teams, FAU, N.C. State and Pittsburgh, last year.
Rutgers and 600-win coach Pat Willis return five starters back from their 2004 squad that posted a 26-23 record. The game will mark just the second meeting between the Buckeyes and Scarlet Knights – the first was an Ohio State win in 1983.
Florida Atlantic returns eight starters, including 2004 Atlantic Sun Conference Pitcher of the Year and A-Sun tournament MVP Candice Freel, from its 2004 NCAA tournament team that was 56-18 overall. FAU has won eight consecutive A-Sun championships and has been to the NCAA tournament six straight years. The Buckeyes knocked off the Owls last season, 4-3, Feb. 28 at the NFCA Leadoff Classic in Columbus, Ga.
N.C. State was 32-27 a year ago, with a 2-0 loss to Ohio State March 13 at the Winthrop Invitational included in that record. Eight starters are back for the Wolfpack, who are in their second season as a varsity team.
Pittsburgh and Ohio State will meet twice in 2005, once in Florida and then in Pittsburgh May 3 for a double-header. The Buckeyes swept the Panthers at Buckeye Field in 2004 as Pittsburgh went on to finish the season 21-36. Six starters are back for Pitt.
A GLANCE BACK AT 2004
The Buckeyes posted a 35-25 overall record in 2004 and made trips to the Big Ten and NCAA Regional tournaments. OSU earned a No. 6 seed in the Big Ten tournament and knocked off No. 3 seed Iowa before falling to No. 2 seed Illinois. At regionals, the Buckeyes topped Bethune-Cookman but were eliminated from the bracket by South Florida and Cal State-Northridge.
Seniors Kristi DeVries, Beth McAbier and Breana Pozzi concluded their Ohio State careers with 160 wins, marking a new school record for wins by one class. DeVries, a pitcher, leaves OSU ranked No. 2 in the career record book for wins (59), strikeouts (624), ERA (1.52) and shutouts (19). She and McAbier return in 2005 as volunteer assistant coaches.
The Buckeyes played their final 10 Big Ten games all away from Buckeye Field, but OSU battled to a 5-5 record in those games to finish the league season with an 8-11 record.
FRESHMEN RECORD SETTERS RETURN
Last year’s freshman class of P/3B Jamee Juarez, LF Megan Schwab, 2B Nycole Koyano and OF/DP Christina Douglas not only made an immediate impact for the Buckeyes, they rewrote many OSU freshman records along with way.
Juarez cracked the Top 10 in every freshman pitching category, ranking fourth in innings pitched (158.1), third in wins (13), fourth in strikeouts (118), seventh in ERA (1.72), sixth in shutouts (3) and fifth in complete games (13). Offensively, Koyano, Schwab and Juarez rank fourth, sixth and eighth, respectively, in hits by a freshman with 55, 54 and 48 apiece, while Koyano ranks sixth in batting average (.327) and Schwab ranks 10th (.295).
Schwab’s 13 doubles rank second and Juarez ranks fourth in the same category with 12. Schwab’s four home runs, and the three by Juarez, rank second and third all-time by a freshman, while Juarez’s 36 RBI are the most ever by a rookie. Koyano’s 27 walks and 16 stolen bases are also OSU freshman records.
BUCKEYES 8-2 IN FALL BALL
Ohio State posted an 8-2 record during its two-week fall schedule, which included a perfect 5-0 record in the Ohio Collegiate Charity Classic, hosted by the Buckeyes Oct. 2-3. The tournament, won for the fourth year in a row by the Buckeyes, raised over $13,550 for the Stefanie Spielman Fund for Breast Cancer Research.
THE BUCKEYES IN THE BIG TEN
In the final 2004 Big Ten regular season statistics report, Ohio State ranked No. 3 in the league in batting average with a .272 average. The Buckeyes ranked fifth as a pitching staff with a 1.70 ERA. In addition, the Buckeyes ranked third among Big Ten leaders in slugging percentage (.387) and third in on-base percentage (.343). OSU was No. 4 in the Big Ten for stolen bases (67).
Individually, freshman Megan Schwab tied for third with 13 doubles. Freshman Nycole Koyano 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). Freshman 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 in strikeouts (174).
KALAFATIS IN YEAR NINE AT OSU
Ohio State head coach enters her ninth season at the helm of the Buckeyes’ softball program in 2005. She is already OSU’s all-time wins leader with 263 victories in Columbus (263-192-0, .578), and her overall record stands at 536-307-2 (.636) in 16 years as a collegiate head coach. Kalafatis has guided Ohio State to the NCAA tournament in two of the last three years and was named the 2002 Big Ten Coach of the Year.