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Buckeyes and Badgers take the field at Goodman Diamond Saturday & Sunday LIVE on BTN

COLUMBUS, Ohio The No. 15/13 (NFCA/USA Softball polls) Ohio State softball team returns to Big Ten conference action this weekend with two games at Wisconsin’s Goodman Diamond. The Buckeyes and Badgers are scheduled to take the field at 2:30 p.m. CT (3:30 ET) Saturday and 2 p.m. CT (3 ET) Sunday with both games being shown on the Big Ten Network. This is Ohio State’s first of two scheduled appearances on the conference network this season, as its doubleheader with Michigan May 6 is also slated for broadcast.
     Ohio State extended its winning streak to nine games with a 6-2 victory over Evansville Wednesday, while upping their overall record to 33-6. The Buckeyes hold the No. 2 spot in the Big Ten with a 9-1 mark with Northwestern holding the top ranking at 11-1 and are ranked in the nation’s Top 25 for a school-record ninth-consecutive week. The Badgers have lost eight-consecutive games and are 12-30 on the season, 1-7 in the Big Ten, holding on to the No. 10 spot after securing its lone conference win against Indiana March 28.
     With a doubleheader sweep of Indiana April 8, the Buckeyes secured their 30th win of the season and marked the sixth season in a row that they have won at least 30 games, the longest such streak in program history. The record for wins in a season is 55, set in 2002 (55-14).
     Since the Buckeyes’ current win streak began April 1 vs. Ball State, they have been led by Dee Dee Hillman with a .400 batting average on 10 hits and two RBI. All-American and USA Softball player of the year finalist Sam Marder clocks in at .368 in the stretch, .389 on the season, after hitting three homeruns in the last nine games including one grand slam vs. Illinois. In the circle, Lindsay Bodeker has picked up four of the team’s last nine wins, holding a team-best 1.93 ERA with 37 strikeouts and just four walks in 25.1 innings of work.

FOLLOW THE BUCKEYES
Television: This weekend’s game will be broadcasted live Saturday and Sunday on the Big Ten Network with Leah Secondo, Eileen Canney and Leslie Hill calling the action.
Live stats: Live stats for all Buckeye games are available will be linked from the homepage, as well as the softball schedule page, of OhioStateBuckeyes.com

DEDICATION DAY
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.

POLL POSITION
The Buckeyes are ranked in the Top 25 in both the NFCA/USA Today and ESPN.com/USA Softball polls for a school-record ninth-consecutive week and have moved to Nos. 15 (tie) and 13, respectively. 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 91-45 all-time, 22-5 this season, when ranked in either the USA Softball or NFCA polls.

THE RED, WHITE & BLUE
Sam Marder, a junior All-America and national player of the year finalist, has accepted an invitation to the 2009 USA Softball Women’s National Team Selection Camp in Chula Vista, Calif., June 8-12, announced April 10  by the Amateur Softball Association of America (ASA). Marder is one of 27 athletes included in the initial round of invitations with additional attendees being announced at a later date.

OHIO STATE AT A GLANCE
From the batter’s box: As a team this season, the Buckeyes are hitting .288 with 45 homers nine short of the team record 54 belted during the 2002 season. They are led by Sam Marder, the newly-named USA Softball player of the year finalist, with a .382 average. The junior captain has notched a Big Ten-leading 15 homeruns this season and has 36 RBI (0.92 per game). Marder and Courtney Pruner are both making their way up the Buckeye career homerun charts, holding second and fourth place, respectively. Marder has 39 for her career just two shy of the all-time Ohio State record 41 set by Kristine Himes (2000-03). Pruner increased her total to seven against NC State for the season and 21 in her career for the fourth-place position.
     Freshman Alicia Herron has been making her bat known lately as well. The Cypress, Calif., native had a grand slam and a three-run homer in the Buckeyes’ 14-4 win over Indiana April 8, contributing to her six on the season good for fourth all-time among freshman hitters in their rookie season.  

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 1.60 ERA and .213 opponent batting average. Reeder has a team-best and fourth-lowest in the Big Ten ERA of 1.34, while holding a 17-3 individual record. She is second all-time at Ohio State in career innings pitched (684.2) and wins (68).
     Bodeker (12-3), who is in her first full season with the Buckeyes, has a conference-leading four saves this season and holds a 1.68 ERA and 124 strikeouts, averaging 6.2 per appearance (20 apps), while Miller remains undefeated (4-0) 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 second in the conference in fielding percentage (.970) and has the second-fewest errors of any team (33). Catcher Sam Marder and first baseman Tory Haddad are both in the Top 10 in the Big Ten in put-outs, sharing the No. 6 spot with 252 apiece. Alicia Herron at shortstop and Whitney Cooper at second base have 69 and 68 assists, respectively, to lead the Buckeyes.

LAST TIME OUT: EVANSVILLE
Leah Ledford drove home two runs in the bottom of the sixth to help guide the No. 15th-ranked Ohio State softball team to a 6-2 win over non-conference opponent Evansville Wednesday evening at New Buckeye Field. The win extended the Buckeyes’ winning streak to nine games, while upping their overall record to 33-6 heading , while the Purple Aces absorb a loss, moving to 10-26 on the season.
     Ledford entered the game in the bottom of the sixth as a pinch hitter for Dee Dee Hillman and promptly sent a double down the left field line to plate Katie Simonton, as a pinch runner for Rebecca Schultz, and Courtney Pruner to give Ohio State the 6-4 lead and ultimately its 19th win this season by at least a four-run margin.
     Evansville jumped out to a 1-0 lead in the top of the first, but the Buckeyes quickly tied it up in the bottom half of the inning off a sac fly from Tory Haddad that plated Hillman who reached on a single up the middle to start off the inning. They went on to stretch the lead to 3-1 with two runs in the bottom of the third when Rachael Shepherd crossed the plate on a wild pitch and Hillman scored her second run of the game on a play started by a fielder’s choice granted to Haddad. The Purple Aces cut the lead back to one in the fourth, but a run in the fifth gave Ohio State a two-run lead again, which they stretched to four with Ledford’s two-RBI double in the sixth.
     Kim Reeder earned the win in the circle, moving to 17-3 on the season after relieving starter Megan Miller with no outs in the fourth inning. She fanned four and gave up two hits in 4.0 innings of work. Evansville starter Jennifer McKee absorbed the loss, falling to 5-11 after allowing three runs on two hits through the first three innings of the game.

NEXT UP: PURDUE, OAKLAND
Following the weekend contests against Wisconsin, the Buckeyes host Purdue in a Big Ten doubleheader Wednesday beginning at 5 p.m. at New Buckeye Field before welcoming Oakland for another doubleheader Sunday, April 26 starting at 2 p.m. The Oakland games will wrap up Ohio State’s Scarlet and Gray Days a series of athletics events next weekend that include men’s lacrosse vs. Notre Dame Saturday in The shoe before the annual spring football game. Baseball also takes the field for three games at Bill Davis Stadium during the weekend.