Buckeyes-Wolverines take the field for two at 5 p.m., live on the Big Ten Network
COLUMBUS, Ohio The Ohio State softball team holds onto to its No. 11 ranking by the National Fastpitch Coaches Association for the second-consecutive week as it heads into a pivotal Big Ten doubleheader with eighth-ranked Michigan, with whom it shares the current top spot in the conference, at 5 p.m. Wednesday in Ann Arbor, Mich. The game will be televised live on the Big Ten Network, with Leah Secondo and Heather Lyke calling the action.
The Scarlet and Gray, winners of its last seven games and 16 of its last 17, is holding steady at the top of the Big Ten for the third week in a row with a 14-2 conference record and an overall 42-7 ledger coming off a record-breaking sweep of No. 12 Northwestern last weekend. Ohio State earned a 7-6 win Saturday, breaking Northwestern’s 29-game home winning streak, before coming away with a 10-1 win in five innings Sunday. Freshman shortstop Alicia Herron hit three homeruns on the weekend, while Courtney Pruner tallied six RBI between the two games.
Michigan is currently 38-9 on the season and 14-2 in the Big Ten, sharing the conference lead with Ohio State. The schools also split the conference weekly awards this week, with Herron taking player of the week honors for the Buckeyes and Michigan hurler Jordan Taylor receiving pitcher of the week honors after throwing back-to-back two-hitters last week. The Wolverines have won 18 games in a row, dating back to March 22 and a 2-1 loss to Northwestern in Evanston, Ill. They are an undefeated 11-0 at their home field, the Wilpon Soccer Complex, this season.
THE WEEK THAT WAS
>>Sunday, May 3: The Buckeyes shattered several records with their 10-1 win over Northwestern, including the single-season team record for homers (56, previous record 54 in 2002) and homeruns by a freshman (Alicia Herron, 11). They also handed the Wildcats their first series sweep at Drysdale Field since the 2003 season when they lost to Minnesota in an April 20 doubleheader. Ohio State also gave Northwestern its first Big Ten run-rule loss since the same date in 2002 when Michigan defeated it 11-1.
>>Saturday, May 2: Ohio State broke Northwestern’s 29-game, two-year winning streak on its home field with a 7-6 victory. It was the first loss since April 15, 2007. Kim Reeder earned the win in the circle, moving her to within three of tying the Buckeye career wins record.
>>Wednesday, April 29: The team defended its first games as the No. 11 team in the nation by shutting out Western Michigan, 2-0 and 1-0, in the final non-conference doubleheader of the season. Alicia Herron was responsible for plating both game-winning runs, sending home the first on a long a long sac fly in the first inning and the second on a RBI single to right field that scored Tory Haddad.
>>Tuesday, April 28: On earning the No. 11 ranking for the first time – “The rankings are a reflection of how motivated this team is, and has been all year,” head coach Linda Kalafatis said. “It is certainly gratifying to be voted No. 11 and to earn the highest ranking in our program’s history, but this team knows that there is a lot more to play for beyond the ranking. We need to stay focused on the most important game the next one and continue to work hard and remain grounded to accomplish what we need to do each day.”
At No. 11 for the second-consecutive week, the Buckeyes hold their highest-ever ranking and a Top 25 spot for a school-record 12th-consecutive week and are also currently holding a No. 12 ranking by USA Softball. The previous record for consecutive weeks in the nation’s Top 25 was eight, set in 2003 and matched again last season.
By earning the No. 23 nod by USA Softball Feb. 17, the Buckeyes returned 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 97-45 all-time, 28-5 this season, when ranked in either the USA Softball or NFCA polls.
FOLLOW THE BUCKEYES
TV: The Big Ten Network will broadcast both games of the Michigan doubleheader live, with Leah Secondo doing play-by-play and Heather Lyke providing color commentary.
Live stats: Live stats for all Buckeye games are available and will be linked from the homepage, as well as the softball schedule page of OhioStateBuckeyes.com.
If you go: Directions to Wilpon Soccer Complex
New Buckeye Field was officially dedicated April 11 with the game vs. Illinois. The Buckeye softball team commemorated the day with several special activities and recognized the donors and construction managers that made the building possible. The 2009 season marks the first in the new 1,500-seat stadium a facility that is undoubtedly among the finest in the country. In addition to more than doubling Buckeye Field’s previous capacity of 800, the new stadium includes indoor and outdoor batting cages, a three-plate bullpen, a 650-square foot press box, player clubhouse and locker room, new dugouts, coaches and umpires dressing rooms and concession areas.
OHIO STATE AT A GLANCE
From the batter’s box: As a team this season, the Buckeyes are hitting .293 with 56 homers, breaking the previous single-season record 54 set during the 2002 season with three Sunday vs. Northwestern. They are led by Sam Marder, the recently-named USA Softball player of the year finalist, with a .373 average. The junior captain has notched a season record-tying 16 homeruns this season and has 39 RBI. Marder and Courtney Pruner are both making their way up the Buckeye career homerun charts, holding second and fourth place, respectively. Marder has 40 for her career just one shy of the all-time Ohio State record 41 set by Kristine Himes (2000-03). Pruner increased her total to nine against Northwestern for the season and 23 in her career for the fourth-place position.
Alicia Herron has officially joined the power-hitting ranks after breaking the freshman record for homers with two Sunday vs. Northwestern and moving into fourth overall in a single season. She now holds 11 to her credit, with six coming during Big Ten games, and moved into fifth on the season RBI chart (43). The Buckeyes have not overlooked the importance of small ball amongst all the homeruns. Whitney Cooper leads the team in total hits with 49 (36 singles) and has driven home 29 RBI – good for fourth on the team.
In the circle: The veteran pitching staff of senior Kim Reeder, junior Megan Miller and redshirt sophomore Lindsay Bodeker has been stellar this season, holding a cumulative 1.56 ERA and .208 opponent batting average. Reeder, who is three wins away from tying the all-time career record, has a team-best and fourth-lowest in the Big Ten ERA of 1.28, while holding a 22-4 individual record. She is second all-time at Ohio State in career innings pitched (722.1) and wins (73).
Bodeker (15-3), who is in her first full season with the Buckeyes, has a conference-leading four saves this season and holds a 1.78 ERA and 151 strikeouts, averaging 6.04 per appearance (25 apps), while Miller remains undefeated (5-0) in the circle. Earlier this season, Bodeker threw the first Ohio State no-hitter since April 17, 2007, when she shut out Eastern Michigan March 14 in Louisville in five innings.
In the field: Ohio State is third in the conference in fielding percentage (.968) and has the third-fewest errors of any team (46). First baseman Tory Haddad and catcher Sam Marder are both in the Top 5 in the Big Ten in put-outs, taking spots four and five with 316 and 314 POs, respectively. Alicia Herron at shortstop and Whitney Cooper at second base have 93 and 83 assists, respectively, to lead the Buckeyes.
LAST TIME OUT: NORTHWESTERN
Records fell on both sides as Ohio State earned a two-game sweep of Northwestern last weekend in Evanston, Ill. With a 7-6 win Saturday, Ohio State broke Northwestern’s 29-game, two-year home winning streak, before coming away with a 10-1 win in five innings Sunday. Freshman shortstop Alicia Herron hit three homeruns on the weekend, while Courtney Pruner tallied six RBI and a .667 batting average between the two games.
Game One: Pruner drove home three runs on two RBI doubles and made the game-winning catch with a diving snag of Nicole Pauly’s fly to right field to end the seventh inning. The Wildcats scored two and had placed the potential game-tying run on second with no outs, but Ohio State forced three-consecutive outs to retire the side, ending with Pruner’s catch, in the bottom of the seventh. Kim Reeder struck out six in the first 4.2 innings of work before giving way to Lindsay Bodeker in the fifth inning. After Bodeker gave up two runs off one hit, Reeder re-entered for the seventh and ended her day with a cumulative 5.2 innings of work and seven strikeouts, earning her 73rd career win to move to within three victories of tying the all-time Ohio State record of 76.
Game Two: Herron tied and broke the freshman record for homeruns as Ohio State blasted Northwestern, 10-1, in five innings and with the first, broke the team single-season record for homers with the 55th of the year. The win was the seventh in a row for the Buckeyes and 16th in the last 17 games, giving them a 42-7 record on the season and 14-2 in the conference. In the circle, Bodeker allowed three hits on zero walks and struck out three through five innings of work. Northwestern sent just 17 batters to the plate with only three reaching base.
NEXT UP: PENN STATE
Following the Wednesday games against Michigan, the Buckeyes wrap up the 2009 regular season with a doubleheader vs. Penn State beginning at 2 p.m. Saturday at New Buckeye Field. Following the games, seniors Kim Reeder and Cortney Cannon will be honored for their four years of dedication to the Ohio State softball team as part of the Senior Day festivities. Also join the Buckeyes Saturday for:
>>FREE rally towels to first 250 fans courtesy of Nationwide
>>Buckeye Kids Club Day FREE Cracker Jacks to the first 100 club members
>>FREE t-shirts to the first 200 fans
>>Student Day Register to win a $100 Target gift card
>>Meet the Buckeyes postgame autograph session