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April 17, 2014

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COLUMBUS, Ohio – Following a five-game homestand last week, the Ohio State softball team hits the road for a three-game series at No. 19/20 Nebraska this weekend. First pitch is set for 7 p.m. (EST) on Friday, 2 p.m. on Saturday and 1 p.m. on Sunday.

BUCKEYES IN A NUTSHELL
Ohio State is 20-20 overall after dropping Sunday’s rubber game of its series against Purdue. Offensively, the Buckeyes are paced by the combination of senior Evelyn Carrillo and junior Caitlin Conrad. Carrillo leads the team in batting (.368) and RBI (29) while Conrad paces the squad in runs scored (32), slugging percentage (.658), doubles (12) and home runs (six). In addition, Taylor Watkins (.339) and Cammi Prantl (.322) both have put up stellar numbers thus far.

In the circle, junior Olivia O’Reilly has logged 103.1 innings thus far with a 2.51 ERA and 70 strikeouts. Last week, she pitched 25.2 innings with just six earned runs, three complete games and two shutouts.

SCOUTING THE CORNHUSKERS
Nebraska, ranked No. 19 in this week’s USA Softball/ESPN.com poll and No. 20 in the NFCA/USA Today poll, comes into the weekend with a record of 30-13 (8-4 Big Ten). At the plate, the Cornhuskers are led by Taylor Edwards (.376, 13 HR, 28 RBI, .728 slugging percentage). Six players are hitting over .300 for Nebraska and as a team the Huskers bat .290.

In the circle, Tatum Edward and Emily Lockman have split the innings. Edwards is 15-9 with a 2.10 ERA and 147 Ks while Lockman checks in with a 15-4 record and 2.25 ERA.

Ohio State and Nebraska have met nine previous times with the Cornhuskers holding a 5-4 edge in the series. The team’s last played in 2012 with Nebraska taking two of three games from the Buckeyes in Columbus.

FOLLOWING FROM HOME
Live updates will also be available on the team’s official Twitter account, @OhioState_SB. Additionally, Friday’s and Saturday’s games will be streamed live on BTN.com.

THE LAST 20
Ohio State has won 11 of its last 20 games and in that stretch has been getting both timely hitting and consistent pitching. A look at the top performers over that span:

Evelyn Carrillo….. .406, 17 RBI, 4 HR,
Taylor Watkins .388, 14 R, 13 RBI, 3 HR
Cammi Prantl ..377, 15 RBI, 9 2B, 15 RBI
Caitlin Conrad .349, 6 2B, 15 RBI, .698 SLG%

Top pitchers:
Olivia O’Reilly….. 8-4, 2.09 ERA, 54 K

CAREER RECORDS WATCH
Melanie Nichols, a fifth-year senior, is looking to work her way up the career record books for wins and strikeouts. In 2010, she made an instant impact as a freshman, going 21-3 with a 1.92 earned-run average of a team that advanced to the NCAA Tournament. Nichols redshirted in 2011 while recovering from an injury and returned in 2012 to start 25 games (12-9, 3.45 ERA, 82 K). In 2013, Nichols went 6-2 with a 3.05 ERA and 51 Ks. Currently, she ranks sixth in all-time in wins (43) and sixth in strikeouts (303).

Career wins
1. Kim Reeder (2006-09)………….. 77
6. Melanie Nichols (2010-pres.)… 43

Career Strikeouts
1. Jamee Juarez (2004-07)……… 747
5. Genice Turley (1994-95))……. 307
6. Melanie Nichols (2010-pres.). 303

In addition, senior Evelyn Carrillo is also climbing her way up the career lists in hits and runs batted in. The senior from Corona, Calif., has played in 192 career games and currently ranks 12th in hits (190), just four shy of 11th place. Her 136 RBI are good for sixth place.

Career Hits
1. Anna Smith (1999-02)………… 243
10. Megan Schwab (2004-07)….. 207
11. Evelyn Carrillo (2011-pres.).. 197

Career RBI
1. Sam Marder (2007-10)……….. 191
4. Courtney Pruner (2006-10)…. 158
5. Evelyn Carrillo (2011-pres.)…. 143

IN THE BIG TEN STATS
A look at where the Buckeyes stack up amongst their Big Ten counterparts:

Batting average…………….. 6th, .286
Runs……………………………. 6th, 192
Hits……………………………… 4th, 298
RBI……………………………… 5th, 179
Doubles…………………………. 1st, 65

Big Ten-only games:
Batting average……………. 2nd, .326
ERA……………………………. 5th, 3.56
Runs……………………………… 5th, 70
Hits……………………………… 3rd, 103

Additionally, several individuals rank among the Big Ten leaders – Evelyn Carrillo is fifth among all players in Big Ten-only batting average (.486) and is 13th in all games. Caitlin Conrad is seventh in the conference in slugging percentage (.658) and ninth in runs scored (32). Olivia O’Reilly is 8th in ERA (2.51) and sixth in opposing batting average (.220).

THE CANNON CREW
Ohio State’s outfield of Caitlin Conrad, Cammi Prantl and Taylor Watkins have been dubbed “The Cannon Crew” (TCC) partly because the first letters of their first names spell TCC and also because they have combined for 11 outfield assists thus far. The group is also lethal at the plate:

Caitlin Conrad .358, 27 RBI, 6 HR, 12 2B
Cammi Prantl .322, 22 RBI, 11 2B, 29 R
Taylor Watkins .339, 32 R, 27 RBI, 4 HR

Collectively, the group is hitting .340 with 71 RBI, 91 runs scored, 30 doubles, 11 stolen bases and 15 home runs.

LAST TIME VS. NEBRASKA (4/21-4/22/2012)
Nebraska 11, Ohio State 2
Ohio State claimed a 2-1 lead in the bottom of the third, but the Huskers rallied to plate four runs in the fourth, four runs in the sixth and two additional runs in the seventh to tally the first win of the doubleheader.

Offensively, the Buckeyes were led by Danielle LeBeau, who claimed her first-career three-hit game with two doubles and a single, while Taylor Watkins went 2-for-4 with two singles.

Pitcher Mikayla Endicott threw 4.1 innings, allowing seven hits on five earned runs with five strikeouts. Endicott began the game with five strikeouts through two scoreless innings of work before Nebraska’s four-run rally. In her 10th appearance, Olivia O’Reilly threw 2.2 innings, allowing seven hits and two earned runs with one strikeout.

Nebraska 3, Ohio State 2 (8 inn.)
Game two consisted of a pitcher’s duel between Melanie Nichols and the Huskers’ game one starter, Ashley Hagemann. Despite leaving 11 runners on base, Nebraska came up with the clutch hit in the top of the eighth with one down on an RBI single to earn the series victory.

Nichols, who kept her team within striking distance throughout the entire eight innings, received the loss to fall to 9-7 overall, allowing three earned runs on six hits with seven strikeouts.

Ohio State 4, Nebraska 0
Melanie Nichols led Ohio State to a 4-0 victory vs. Nebraska after throwing a three-hit, complete-game shutout at Buckeye Field.

Offensively, Megan Coletta had a home run and two RBI and Evelyn Carrillo was 1-for-2 with an RBI.

Ohio State took a 2-0 lead in the bottom of the third on a sacrifice fly and a Nebraska throwing error. The Buckeyes put the pressure on Husker starter Tatum Edwards when they loaded the bases with one out. Ohio State got three-consecutive batters on base after Taylor Watkins hit an infield single, Vanessa Spears was hit by a pitch and Alicia Herron walked. Carrillo then plated her 40th RBI when she sent a fly ball to right field to score Watkins to make it 1-0. Spears then crossed the plate for the second run on a first and third situation following a throwing error by the Nebraska catcher.

A MARKED IMPROVEMENT
Several Buckeyes are enjoying significant statistical improvements at the plate from 2013 to 2014, including senior Melaina Saalfeld, junior Caitlin Conrad and sophomore Jayla Saibene.

Player……………………………………..         2013       2014       Diff.
Caitlin Conrad…………………………..         .285        .358        +.073
Melaina Saalfeld……………………….         .193        .253        +.060
Jayla Saibene……………………………         .214        .267        +.053

PLAYING THE BEST
The Buckeyes’ non-conference schedule will once again test Ohio State against some of the nation’s elite. In all, OSU will play at least 16 games against teams that qualified for last year’s NCAA Tournament, including eight against squads that advanced to the Women’s College World Series. Additionally, Ohio State plays 15 games against teams either ranked or receiving votes in the NFCA/USA Today Preseason Top 25 poll. Nine of those games are against Top 10 teams.

EXPERIENCED COACHING STAFF
Ohio State’s coaching staff of Kelly Kovach Schoenly, Amanda Buchholz, Jenna Hall and Megan Coletta has 36 years of combined experience either playing for coaching in the Big Ten. Kovach-Schoenly was four-year starter at Michigan and was an assistant coach for nine years at Penn State. Buchholz was a starting shortstop at Nebraska from 2000-03 and a volunteer assistant coach with the Cornhuskers for six years as a volunteer assistant. Hall played at Illinois for four years and is the school’s all-time leader in career and single season batting average. Coletta wrapped up her four-year playing career with the Buckeyes last spring.

OHIO STATE/PURDUE NOTES
• Despite losing two of three games, Ohio State outscored Purdue, 12-6
Cammi Prantl hit a team-best .444 over the weekend with a double, two RBI and a .500 on base percentage.
Olivia O’Reilly limited the Boilermakers to just 10 hits over 17.2 innings.

O’REILLY EMERGES AS THE ACE
Junior Olivia O’Reilly is enjoying a season for the Buckeyes as she leads team in every major pitching category, including wins (nine), ERA (2.51), strikeouts (70) and complete games (nine). Last week, she pitched 25.2 innings and gave up just six earned runs while registering three complete games and two shutouts.

PACKIN’ THEM IN
A season-high crowd of 1,598 filled Buckeye Field on Sunday, marking the largest home crowd in at least 10 years. The top attendance figures in that span:

4/13/14 vs. Purdue…………….. 1,598
4/11/09 vs. Illinois……………… 1,277
4/7/12 vs. Michigan……………. 1,217
5/19/07 vs. Cal State Fullerton 1,175
5/2/12 vs. Iowa…………………. 1,147
5/9/09 vs. Penn State…………. 1,105

OHIO STATE/INDIANA SERIES NOTES
• The Buckeyes’ top four hitters (Conrad, Watkins, Prantl, Carrillo) combined to go 21-for-41 (.512) with seven doubles, three home runs and 18 RBI.
• As a team, Ohio State hit .386 in the series.
• 13 of Ohio State’s 34 hits vs. the Hoosiers were for extra bases.

BUCKEYES’ BATS COME ALIVE VS. MSU
Ohio State’s offense posted several impressive numbers in its Big Ten-opening sweep of Michigan State. As a team, the Buckeyes hit .432 with 38 total hits, nine doubles, one triple and five home runs. Additionally, several players enjoyed big weekends, including:

Evelyn Carrillo…….. .700, 2 HR, 6 RBI
Cammi Prantl…….. .600, 3 2B, 6 runs
Keelia Nester……… .571, 1 HR, 3 RBI
Caitlin Conrad .455, 5 RBI, 1 2B, 1 HR

RETURNING STATISTICAL LEADERS
Entering the 2014 season, Ohio State returns eight of its top 10 hitters and all five of its pitchers. In total, 79.1 percent of its RBI total returns,   77.6 percent of its runs returns, 87.5 percent of its stolen bases and 82.2 percent of its total bases return.

FOLLOW THE BUCKEYES
Fans can follow Ohio State softball on the web and through social media via the following outlets:

Website: OhioStateBuckeyes.com
Twitter: @OhioState_SB
Facebook: Facebook.com/OhioStateSoftball
Instagram: Instagram.com/ohiostate_sb