Buckeyes welcome Canisius, BYU and Kentucky in their sixth NCAA Tournament appearance
COLUMBUS, Ohio The NCAA Tournament returns to Columbus for the second time in three years as New Buckeye Field was selected as one of 16 sites for a tourney regional. The 11th-ranked Buckeyes have been awarded the No. 11 seed in the tournament and will welcome Canisius, BYU and Kentucky to their home field Thursday-Saturday. Ohio State (44-9) is the top seed within the double-elimination regional and will face Canisius at 7:30 p.m. Thursday. BYU and Kentucky open the Columbus regional action at 5 p.m.
There are three games scheduled for Friday and at least one, possibly two, Saturday with the regional winner advancing to face the victor of the Chapel Hill regional, hosted by North Carolina and featuring ninth-seeded Georgia, Campbell and Radford, in addition to the Tar Heels. Fourteen of the 16 regional sites are scheduled to play Friday-Sunday; however, BYU and Campbell do not play on Sundays because university policy, causing games to be pushed up one day at their respective sites. See schedule below left
NCAA REGIONAL SCHEDULE – COLUMBUS
Thu. 14 Gm 1: BYU vs. Kentucky 5 p.m.
14 Gm 2: CANISIUS 7:30 p.m.
Fri. 15 Gm 3: Gm 1 winner vs. Gm 2 winner 2:30 p.m.
15 Gm 4: Gm 1 loser vs. Gm 2 loser 5 p.m.
15 Gm 5: Gm 4 winner vs. Gm 3 loser 7:30 p.m.
Sat. 16 Gm 6: Gm 3 winner vs. Gm 5 winner 1 p.m.
16 Gm 7: Gm 6 winner vs. Gm 6 loser* 3:30 p.m.
* if needed
Tickets are $8 for adults, $5 for children and students and can be purchased at the New Buckeye Field ticket window starting an hour and a half before the first game of the day. All sales are CASH ONLY.
BUCKEYES IN THE NCAA TOURNAMENT
Ohio State is making its sixth appearance in the NCAA tournament and third as host of a regional. The Buckeyes are 7-10 at the regional level and are seeking their first trip to a Super Regional.
Prior to and during the formation of the NCAA tournament in 1982, the Buckeyes made three trips to the AIAW tournament (1978, 1979, 1982 AIAW World Series).
2007 Columbus Regional: beat CS Fullerton 2-1, beat Virginia Tech 2-1, lost to CS Fullerton 6-5, lost to CS Fullerton 10-3
2006 Tucson (Ariz.) Regional: beat Auburn 1-0 (10 inn.), lost to Arizona 6-3, lost to Auburn 4-0.
2004 Tallahassee (Fla.) Regional: lost to South Florida 2-0, beat Bethune-Cookman 2-0, lost to Cal State Northridge 4-2.
2002 Ann Arbor (Mich.) Regional: beat Central Michigan 7-0, lost to Michigan 3-0, beat Washington 2-1, lost to Michigan 4-0.
1990 Midwest Regional, Columbus, Ohio: lost to Kent State 4-0, beat Oregon 2-0, lost to Kent State 5-3.
AGAINST THE 2009 FIELD
Ohio State is 13-5 this season against 12 of the teams in the tournament field and 248-379-4 all-time vs. 50 squads. That includes a 181-214-3 mark against teams in the Big Ten and a 67-165-1 record vs. non-conference schools.
FOLLOW THE BUCKEYES
Radio: Scarlet and Gray Radio, the student station of Ohio State, will provide play-by-play for the Buckeye games, live on OhioStateSports.net
Live stats: Gametracker for all NCAA games in Columbus is available and will be linked from the homepage, as well as the softball schedule page of OhioStateBuckeyes.com. Links also can be found on the tournament central page, as well as NCAA.com.
OHIO STATE AT A GLANCE
From the batter’s box: As a team this season, the Buckeyes are hitting .289 with 61 homers, dismantling the previous single-season record 54 set during the 2002 season. They are led by All-American Sam Marder with a .367 average after she broke the program records for career and season homeruns with 42 and 18, respectively, heading into the NCAA tournament.
Marder may own the top spot, but junior captain Courtney Pruner also has made inroads on the career homerun totals. The Akron, Ohio, native increased her total to nine against Northwestern for the season and 23 in her career for the fourth-place position.
Alicia Herron also has officially joined the power-hitting ranks after breaking the freshman record for homers with two against Northwestern May 3 and moving into fourth overall in a single season. She now has 12 to her credit, with seven coming during Big Ten games, and moved into fifth on the season RBI chart (45). The Buckeyes have not overlooked the importance of small ball amongst all the homeruns. Whitney Cooper leads the team in total hits with 52 (39 singles) and has driven home 29 runs – good for fifth 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 1.61 ERA and .210 opponent batting average. Reeder, who is two wins away from tying the all-time career record and one shutout away from the single-season mark, has a team-best and fourth-lowest in the Big Ten ERA of 1.39, while holding a 23-5 individual record. She is second all-time at Ohio State in career innings pitched (735.2) and wins (74).
Bodeker (16-4), who is in her first full season with the Buckeyes, has a conference-leading four saves this season and holds a 1.79 ERA and 158 strikeouts, averaging 5.9 per appearance (27 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 (49). 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 353 and 332 POs, respectively. Alicia Herron at shortstop and Whitney Cooper at second base have 103 and 91 assists, respectively, to lead the Buckeyes.
At No. 11 for the third-consecutive week, the Buckeyes hold on to their program-best ranking and a Top 25 spot for a school-record 13th-consecutive week and also are currently holding a No. 10 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 99-45 all-time, 30-5 this season, when ranked in either the USA Softball or NFCA polls.
LAST TIME OUT
Sam Marder broke the Ohio State softball career homerun record with her 42nd overall and 18th this season as the No. 11-ranked Buckeyes swept Penn State, 6-0 and 2-0, in a doubleheader May 9 at New Buckeye Field in front of 1,105 fans. With the wins, the Scarlet and Gray wrapped up the regulat season with 44-9 overall record, 16-4 in the Big Ten and secured a second-place finish in the Big Ten conference standings. The Nittany Lions finish their season at 19-27 and 7-13 in conference play.
The 44 wins stand as the most since the Buckeyes tallied 55 during the 2002 season and the third-most of any team in program history, including postseason runs. Senior Kim Reeder, who was honored after the games during the Senior Day activities along with Cortney Cannon, and sophomore Lindsay Bodeker earned the wins in the circle, bringing the team’s total shutout wins this season to 22. Marder’s blast came in the bottom of the sixth in the second game of the doubleheader with a solo shot to center field.
Records have been falling by the wayside for the Buckeyes this season. As a team, they have shattered the single-season homerun total with a current total of 61 (1.15/game), breaking the previous mark of 54 set during the 2002 season (.78/game). Courtney Pruner tied the team record in the second inning vs. Northwestern May 3 before Alicia Herron broke it in the fifth with the first of two round trips that day. Herron’s second vs. the Wildcats was her 11th this season and broke the high for homeruns by a rookie, a number she has since stretched to 12 with one against Michigan.
Against Penn State May 9, Sam Marder broke the all-time career homerun record of 41 set by Kristine Himes during the 2000-03 seasons, with her 42nd of her three-year career. Earlier this season, Marder obliterated the all-time walks chart with 60 through 53 games this season, including 14 intentional, for 165 through three seasons.
Pruner, who jacked the first homer at New Buckeye Field, also is up there among the homerun leaders as a junior, holding on to fourth with 23. Marder also ranks second with 144 RBI. In the circle, senior Kim Reeder is second in wins (74) and innings pitched (735.2) and fourth in strikeouts (668).
Current undergraduate assistant coach Brittany Vanderink finished her career last season fourth all-time at Ohio State in stolen bases (63) and was tied for fifth in career batting average (.347), tied for fourth in triples (11), fifth in runs scored (127) and fifth in hits (219).
New Buckeye Field was officially dedicated April 11 with the games vs. Illinois. The Buckeye softball team commemorated the day with several special activities and recognized the donors and construction managers that made the facility 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 is 15-2 at New Buckeye Field and has won 20 of its last 22 home games dating back to last season. The Buckeyes went 10-12 at Buckeye Field in 2008 for just the second losing record there since the facility opened in 1988. Ohio State was 21-2 at home in both 2007 and 2006.
Against Marshall April 2, 2008, the Buckeyes saw their 32-game winning streak in regular-season home nonconference games come to an end with an 11-0 loss in game one of a doubleheader. When Marshall won game two, 6-1, it marked the first time since April 29, 1992, that Ohio State was swept in a home nonconference doubleheader.
Because the position of home plate at New Buckeye Field remains the same as it has been since 1988, home records will continue to accumulate. Ohio State is now 336-137 (.705) all-time at Buckeye Field since the facility originally opened in 1988. That mark includes a 133-108 (.545) record in Big Ten games and a 193-29 (.865) record in non-league games.
The Golden Griffins (26-23) qualified for the NCAA tournament for the 11th time in school history and third in a row after defeating Niagara 9-0 in the MAAC Championship game Saturday. The Griffs are led by senior third baseman Cameron Norton, who was named the 2009 MAAC Tournament MVP after she hit .667 (8-for-12) with six RBIs, five runs scored, three home runs and a double in the Griffs’ four games in the MAAC Tournament. She leads the team with her .307 batting average and is tied for the team’s lead in hits (43) and runs batted in (28).
Fellow senior Mallory Aldred was honored as a 2009 MAAC all-tournament team honoree after she won all three games in the conference tournament for the Blue and Gold. She leads the squad’s pitching staff in wins (19), ERA (1.95), strikeouts (176), complete games (15), shutouts (9) and innings pitched (150.2). The Griffs had a total of five players named to the 2009 MAAC all-tournament Team, with Norton and Aldred being joined by senior Rachelle Barrientos, junior Michelle Fridey and freshman Lizzy Gatto.
SERIES HISTORY VS. THE GRIFFS
Ohio State holds a 1-0 advantage in the series with the only previous meeting taking place in 1999. The Buckeyes won 3-0 at the Kentucky Invitational March 7. When the Buckeyes last hosted a NCAA regional in 2007, they were originally scheduled to face Canisius; however, a seeding error by the NCAA led to a change in the bracket. The Griffs played two games in Columbus, falling to Cal State Fullerton and Virginia Tech.
BYU makes its sixth overall appearance and fifth-consecutive in an NCAA regional since the program was started in 2000; however the Cougars have not advanced to the Super Regional, falling in the regional final in each of the last two seasons. One of three teams from the Mountain West, BYU earned the conference’s automatic bid
BYU sophomore Jessica Purcell was named MWC Player of the Year, while fellow Cougar Christie Zinanti captured the MWC Pitcher of the Year award. BYU’s Gordon Eakin captured MWC Coach of the Year honors for the first time.
Purcell finished the regular season ranked third in the nation for RBI (1.41), 18th for slugging percentage (0.819), 25th in doubles per game (0.31) and 26th in home runs (15). Zinanti was 20-7 in the circle this season with a 1.28 ERA, while leading the conference in opponent batting average (.201), batters struck out looking (65) and wins (20). She also ranks first in the school’s record books for all-time wins (51), strikeouts (427) and innings pitched (470.1).
SERIES HISTORY VS. THE COUGARS
The Buckeyes and Cougars have faced once before with Ohio State taking an 8-3 win Feb. 23, 2007 in the opening game of the Palm Springs Classic in Cathedral City, Calif.
Kentucky is making its first trip to the NCAA tournament in school history after going 32-21 through the season with the biggest turnaround in school history after posting 14 more wins than they did a season ago. In their first SEC tournament appearance in eight seasons, the Wildcats picked up a 2-0 decision over No. 7 Georgia for their first win in the postseason.
Junior shortstop Molly Johnson and freshman pitcher/designated player Rachel Riley led the Wildcats in their victory over the Bulldogs and subsequent contest vs. Alabama. Riley was the winning pitcher, throwing a complete game effort and allowing no runs. Johnson’s two-run home run gave Kentucky the only scores it would need to pull off the upset. Against Alabama, Riley had an RBI single and drove in Johnson as Kentucky took the first lead of the game before falling 2-1 to the Tide in eight innings. Johnson has led the team all season, batting .434 with a team-leading 75 hits, including nine homeruns, and 50 runs scored.
SERIES HISTORY VS. THE WILDCATS
The Buckeyes hold a 6-3 advantage all-time vs. Kentucky with the last two meetings coming a season ago. In that non-conference doubleheader April 16, the squads split their matchups.