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Ohio State is 15-3 on the season and ranked No. 21 by NFCA; 16th by USA Softball

COLUMBUS, Ohio The Ohio State softball team moved up in both the USA Today/NFCA Coaches and ESPN.com/USA Softball polls, coming in at Nos. 21 and 16, respectively, after going 3-0 on the weekend and improving to 15-3 overall this season. The Buckeyes won three games at the NFCA Leadoff Classic last Friday and Saturday, defeating Mississippi State, Hofstra and Illinois State by a combined 14-0 score to move their shutout win total to seven on the year.

This is the second-consecutive week that Ohio State has been ranked in both major polls. The Buckeyes entered the National Fastpitch Coaches Association (NFCA) poll last week at No. 24, while coming in at No. 20 according to USA Softball after moving up from 23rd spot two weeks ago. By earning the Top 25 nod a week ago, the Buckeyes return to the national rankings after an 11-week absence. Ohio State spent the first six weeks of the 2008 season in the Top 25 before dropping out in the March 10 edition. The Scarlet and Gray is 75-42 all-time when ranked in one or both of the USA Softball or NFCA polls.

The 2009 Buckeyes are off to one of the best starts in program history. Now 18 games into the schedule, they eclipsed the best 15-game record, going 12-3, and are on pace to establish a new program-best through 20 games (16-4 in 2008). Ohio State currently leads the Big Ten, not only in the rankings, but in several team and individual statistics categories.

Individually, senior pitcher Kim Reeder, who is in the Top 3 for wins and ERA in the conference, earned Big Ten player of the week honors Monday for the second time this season. The Salinas, Calif., native earned two of the Buckeyes’ wins at the NFCA Leadoff Classic, both by shutout, to give her eight wins on the season with an impressive 0.90 ERA and 74 strikeouts in 62 innings pitched.

In the batter’s box, junior Sam Marder leads the Big Ten with nine homeruns and 21 RBI. She hit a pair of two-run blasts vs. Mississippi State last Friday, propelling the team to a 7-0 win and moving to within three of tying Ohio State’s all-time homerun leader, Kristine Himes. The USA Softball player of the year candidate and reigning All-American has 38 for her career.

Ohio State returns to action March 13-15 at the Courtyard by Marriott Cardinal Tournament hosted by University of Louisville. The Buckeyes are scheduled to take the field against Loyola (Ill.) at 10 a.m. March 13, followed by a 2 p.m. game vs. UIC. They will then face host Louisville at noon Saturday, followed by two games vs. Eastern Michigan at 4 p.m. Saturday and 10 a.m. Sunday.