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April 13, 2006

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SETTING THE SCENE
Undefeated at home and riding an eight-game winning streak, the Ohio State softball team hosts Minnesota at noon Sunday in a doubleheader at Buckeye Field. The Buckeyes (26-14, 6-2 Big Ten) are 17-4 in their last 21 games, which includes all 11 of their home games this season, while Minnesota (12-21, 1-7 Big Ten) has yet to play a home game.

Ohio State’s student radio station, The Underground, will call the games live on its website, www.underground.fm/sports, and GameTracker will have live stats at www.ohiostatebuckeyes.com.

The Buckeyes’ eight-game winning streak is their best since 2003 when they won nine in a row. At 6-2 in the Big Ten, Ohio State sits in third place and does not play a Friday-Saturday Big Ten series for the only time this season. Minnesota plays at Penn State Friday and Saturday before traveling to Columbus.

Ohio State hosts IUPUI next Tuesday before traveling to Oxford, Ohio, for one game against Miami, which is the only road game in a 19-game span for the Buckeyes.

SWEEPS AND STREAKS
With two Big Ten sweeps last weekend, Ohio State swept back-to-back Big Ten opponents for the first time since 2002 when the Buckeyes swept six consecutive league opponents. It was also in 2002 that OSU last swept a ranked opponent (twice, vs. No. 25 Minnesota, at No. 20 Iowa).

Ohio State’s current eight-game winning streak is its best since winning nine in a row in March of 2003. Should the Buckeyes’ win streak extend to 10 games, it would be their fifth-best in program history. The school record for longest winning streak is 18 games set in 2002.

SCHWAB BIG TEN PLAYER OF THE WEEK
Junior Megan Schwab was named the Big Ten Player of the Week Monday for the first time in her career. She batted .500 (7-for-14) last week in six games, all OSU wins, with a triple, home run, five RBI, eight runs scored and a .632 on base percentage. Schwab had at least one hit in all six games to extend her current hitting streak to a team-best eight games. Her home run came Sunday to help the Buckeyes sweep 15th-ranked Northwestern. A first-team all-region selection last year, Schwab is batting a team-best .363 this season, which ranks fifth in the Big Ten.

NO PLACE LIKE HOME
Ohio State is in a homestand that includes 18 of 19 games at home. The most recent similar homestand was in 2004 when the Buckeyes played a stretch of 16 of 18 games at home. The longest streak of consecutive home games occurred in 1994 when Ohio State played 20 straight home games, which was nearly topped in 1998 when OSU played 16 in a row at Buckeye Field.

OHIO STATE AT A GLANCE
Ohio State has won eight in a row and 17 of its last 21 games. Eleven of those wins have come at Buckeye Field, where OSU was 13-4 last year. With a 6-2 Big Ten record, the Buckeyes sit in third place behind Michigan State (6-0) and Michigan (5-1). Northwestern, ranked No. 15 last week, is also 6-2 but was swept by the Buckeyes Sunday.

At Buckeye Field, Ohio State is batting .321 as a team, compared to .264 overall, and OSU pitchers have a 1.45 ERA at home (2.38 overall).

Junior Megan Schwab leads Ohio State with a .363 average, a .463 on-base percentage, a .566 slugging percentage and nine doubles. Billie Carder owns the team’s second-best average at .274 and shares the team lead in RBI with 21 (Schwab and freshman Courtney Pruner).

The pitching staff includes junior Jamee Juarez (12-8, 2.71 ERA), freshman Kim Reeder (11-6, 1.78 ERA) and Pruner (3-0, 3.46 ERA), whose three wins have all come in the past week, including two against No. 15 Northwestern last Sunday.

OSU returns 11 letterwinners and welcomes four newcomers in 2006 for head coach Linda Kalafatis, who is in her tenth season. The Buckeyes were 32-17 overall in 2005 and finished fourth in the Big Ten with a 9-7 league mark. OSU ranked among the NCAA’s Top 13 in six categories, including scoring (8th, 5.8 runs/game).

BUCKEYES-GOPHERS CONNECTIONS
The hometowns of Ohio State junior Megan Schwab (Glendale, Ariz.) and Minnesota junior Rene Konderik (Peoria, Ariz.) are just five miles apart. OSU’s Christina Douglas is also from nearby Mesa, Ariz. From the Los Angeles area are Minnesota’s Valerie Alston (Canyon Lake) and Mandy Valadez (Torrance) and Ohio State’s Stacy Hibma (Buena Park), Nycole Koyano (Walnut), Jamee Juarez (La Puente) and Liz Caputo (Riverside).

OSU VS. MINNESOTA SERIES NOTES
Ohio State is 25-55 all-time against Minnesota but is 14-12 against the Gophers at Buckeye Field. These two teams have split three of their last four series in Columbus (all but 2002 when OSU swept). The Buckeyes swept the Gophers last year in Minneapolis for the first time in program history.

Year Location Winner Score(s) 2005 Minneapolis Ohio State (DH) 5-1, 13-1 2004 Columbus split 0-1, 9-6 2003 Minneapolis Minnesota (DH) 5-1, 2-1 2002 Columbus Ohio State (DH) 5-0, 5-3

A LOOK AT THE GOPHERS
Minnesota (12-21, 1-7 Big Ten) plays at Penn State Friday and Saturday before traveling to Columbus. The Gophers are 2-9 on opponents’ home fields this season and play their first home game of the season next Friday against Illinois. Minnesota ranks 11th in the Big Ten in hitting (.206), ninth in pitching (2.86 ERA) and sixth in fielding (.962). Last weekend co-head coach Lisa Bernstein recorded her 500th career victory as the Gophers split a doubleheader with Wisconsin. Junior Megan Higginbotham, the Big Ten’s first-team all-conference catcher last year, leads the Gophers with a .355 average, while junior Lisa Parks owns a team-best four home runs and 15 RBI. Junior Rene Konderik (3-2) owns a team-best 1.83 ERA, while freshman Briana Hassett (5-11, 2.62 ERA) leads in wins.

LAST TIME VS. MINNESOTA
Coming off two Big Ten-opening losses at Wisconsin last year, Ohio State swept a Sunday doubleheader at Minnesota by 13-1 and 5-1 scores. In the opener, OSU’s Christina Douglas went 4-for-4 with two doubles and four RBI, while Jamee Juarez held the Gophers to four hits. In game two, Juarez again went the distance, scattering six hits, while the Buckeyes scored three runs in the fourth inning to overcome a 1-0 Gopher lead. Like she did in game one, OSU’s Liz Caputo went 3-for-3, while Billie Carder hit one of four Buckeye doubles and went 2-for-3.

OSU WIN STREAK REACHES EIGHT
Ohio State swept Toledo Tuesday night at Buckeye Field (8-2, 13-8) to extend its winning streak to eight games. OSU went 6-0 last week in six close games at Buckeye Field to begin the streak. Last week began with a doubleheader sweep (3-0, 4-1) of Bowling Green Wednesday. OSU scored all seven of its runs in the third inning of the two games. The Falcons (20-12) entered the games 11-2 in their last 13 games, with their only losses coming at then-No. 12 Michigan and Notre Dame.

After a two-hour rain delay Friday night, Ohio State saw Illinois score five runs in the first inning, but the Buckeyes came back for an 8-7 win. On Saturday OSU built a 5-0 lead and held off a late Illini rally to win 5-3. Against 15th-ranked Northwestern Sunday, Ohio State got a walk-off home run in the bottom of the seventh inning from senior Chelsea Baker to top the Wildcats 2-1, before freshman Courtney Pruner pitched a six-hit complete game in her first collegiate start to beat NU 3-2 in the night cap.

SHORT HOPS…
The Buckeyes are 22-0 when leading after four innings and 21-3 when scoring three or more runs. The Buckeyes had a season-high five sacrifice bunts in their 3-2 game-two win over Northwestern last Sunday, which set up their game-tying and game-winning runs, before exploding for a season-high 13 runs against Toledo Tuesday.

Chelsea Baker’s walk-off home run against Northwestern Sunday was the first for a Buckeye since April 21, 2002, when Chrissy Fowler’s solo blast beat Illinois 6-5 at Buckeye Field in a game that Ohio State trailed 5-0. Baker homered against Tuesday against Toledo for her 12th career long ball (tie for sixth in OSU history) and she is batting .526 (10-for-19) in her last six games.

Courtney Pruner’s fifth home run of the season Sunday against Northwestern ranks her second all-time for homers in a season by a freshman. She earned the pitching win in both games Sunday vs. the 15th-ranked Wildcats for her first two wins of the season and picked up her third win against Toledo Tuesday.

Billie Carder extended her hitting streak to a career-best seven games last weekend, during which time she hit .435 (10-for-23). She went 3-for-7 against Toledo Tuesday, as did Lauren Daykin and Christina Douglas. Nycole Koyano was 4-for-7 in the doubleheader, while Stacy Hibma went 3-for-3 in game-two vs. the Rockets.

See page 4 of the PDF version of this release for player bios.

BUCKEYES IN THE BIG TEN
In Big Ten statistics as of April 10, Ohio State ranked eighth in the Big Ten in batting (.256 avg.), sixth in pitching (2.43 ERA) and ninth in fielding (.956 pct.). The Buckeyes were tied for the lead in triples (7), ranked third in stolen bases (51) and fourth in home runs (25).

Individually, Megan Schwab ranked fifth in batting average (.364), seventh in doubles (9), ninth in total bases (63) and seventh in on base percentage (.449). Nycole Koyano ranked third in stolen bases (19) and Christina Douglas ranked fifth in sacrifice bunts (9). Among Big Ten pitchers, Kim Reeder ranked ninth in ERA (1.78), sixth in innings pitched (121.2) and ninth in strikeouts (111), while Jamee Juarez ranked eighth in innings pitched (118.1) and sixth in strikeouts (131).

KALAFATIS IN 10TH YEAR AT OSU
Ohio State head coach Linda Kalafatis is in her 10th season at the helm of the Buckeyes’ softball program in 2006. She is already OSU’s all-time wins leader with 321 victories in Columbus (321-223-0, .584), and her overall record stands at 594-338-2 (.640) in 18 years as a collegiate head coach. She is assisted by former Buckeyes Belinda Quisenberry and Kristi DeVries and former Nebraska All-American Ali Viola.

IN THE OSU RECORD BOOK
Junior Jamee Juarez has 12 wins this season to increase her career total to 50, which ranks third all-time. She ranks seventh on the career innings pitched list (498.0). Junior Megan Schwab has hit four home runs to increase her career total to 14, which ranks tied for fourth-most in OSU history with Ashley Cutcliff (2003-05). Chelsea Baker has five homers to give her 12 for her career, which is tied for sixth with Jodi Dolan (1995-98). Junior Nycole Koyano ranks tied for second in OSU history with 74 walks, fourth in stolen bases with 53 and eighth in runs scored with 98. She is already tied for ninth in career triples with seven and her next triple will tie her for fourth.

### GO BUCKS! ###