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Buckeyes take on Illini at 2 p.m. Saturday and Sunday in Big Ten series action

COLUMBUS, Ohio The No. 16/14 (NFCA/USA Softball polls) Ohio State softball team takes on Illinois this weekend at 2 p.m. Saturday and Sunday at New Buckeye Field. The game Saturday marks “Dedication Day” for the new stadium, as the Buckeyes (30-6, 7-1 Big Ten) recognize the people that made the building of New Buckeye Field possible and celebrate the day with several fan-friendly activities. The Illini are 22-10 on the year and 5-2 in the conference after a pair of non-conference wins this week over Illinois State and Bradley.
     Ohio State has won six-consecutive games and eight of its last nine as it holds on to the No. 2 spot in the Big Ten, trailing Northwestern by a game. With a doubleheader sweep of Indiana Wednesday, 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).
     Freshman Alicia Herron belted a grand slam and a three-run homerun for a program record-tying seven RBI, leading Ohio State in the first game vs. the Hoosiers. It was the first grand slam for the Buckeyes since Courtney Pruner knocked one out at Long Beach State March 20, 2007 and the first seven-RBI showing since Liz Caputo’s performance vs. Long Island Feb. 27, 2005.

FOLLOW THE BUCKEYES
Webcast: The majority of Ohio State home games, including the series with Illinois, will be streamed live on Buckeye Vision, from OhioStateBuckeyes.com. Subscription fees apply.
Radio: Scarlet and Gray Radio, the student station of Ohio State, will provide commentary for the Buckeye Vision broadcast. The audio can also be followed on OhioStateSports.net.
Live stats: Live stats for all Buckeye home games are available will be linked from the homepage, as well as the softball schedule page of OhioStateBuckeyes.com

DEDICATION DAY
New Buckeye Field will officially be dedicated at 2 p.m. Saturday with the game vs. Illinois. Join the Buckeye softball team for a variety of activities to commemorate the special day and recognize the donors who made the new stadium possible. The first 350 fans will receive free Ohio State Softball pennants, while those in attendance can also enjoy Matt the Balloon Guy, the Chillicothe Paints mascot and the athletic band, cheerleaders and Brutus. All kids are invited to run the bases following the game and to participate in a postgame autograph session.

PARKING ADVISORY
There are several sporting events scheduled for Saturday in the vicinity of New Buckeye Field. The Ohio State baseball team takes on Michigan State at 1 p.m. at Bill Davis Field, while the track and field team begins “The Dual” meet with Michigan at 11 a.m. in Jesse Owens Memorial Stadium. Be advised that parking in the lots around these venues will be crowded and plan accordingly as to not miss any of the “Dedication Day” activities. 

POLL POSITION

The Buckeyes are ranked in the Top 25 in both the NFCA/USA Today and ESPN.com/USA Softball polls for the seventh-consecutive week and have moved to Nos. 16 and 14, respectively. The school record for consecutive weeks in the nation’s Top 25 is 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 88-45 all-time, 19-5 this season, when ranked in either the USA Softball or NFCA polls.

LAST TIME OUT: INDIANA
Alicia Herron hit a grand slam and a three-run homerun for a program record-tying seven RBI to lead the No. 16 Ohio State softball team in the first game of a doubleheader sweep of Indiana Wednesday afternoon at the IU Softball Field. The Buckeyes came away with a 14-4 win in five innings and followed up with a 1-0 victory in the second contest. The Scarlet and Gray exploded for seven runs in the first inning, including Herron’s grand slam, as the top of the order pounced early and the Buckeyes maintained momentum by sending 12 batters to the plate in the inning.
     Indiana cut the lead to five in the bottom half of the inning, but the Buckeyes put up three runs in the next two innings to stretch the lead back to 9-2. The Hoosiers put another on the board in the bottom of the fourth, but Ohio State exploded for four runs in the top of the fifth to gain an 11-run lead. The Hoosiers scored again in the bottom of the fifth, but the Buckeyes came away with the 14-4 win and their 11th run-rule victory this season. Kim Reeder earned her 15th win of the season, while striking out six.
     In the second game, the Buckeyes loaded the bases in the third inning with walks to Rebecca Schultz and Marder and a botched fielder’s choice for Hillman. An illegal pitch by Indiana’s Sara Olson sent Schultz home and advanced the remaining runners to second and third with two outs. The Hoosiers closed out the inning by striking out Pruner, but Ohio State earned the 1-0 lead that it would hold on to through the remainder of the contest.
     In the circle, Lindsay Bodeker struck out eight and gave up three hits to earn her third-consecutive shutout win and sixth complete game shutout this season.

NEXT UP: EVANSVILLE, WISCONSIN
Following the weekend contests against Illinois, the Buckeyes host Evansville in a single game at 5 p.m. Wednesday, April 15 before traveling to Wisconsin April 18-19. The Buckeyes and Hoosiers take the field at 2 p.m. CT Saturday and Sunday.

LESS IS MORE …
Ohio State leads the Big Ten in fewest runs allowed (54) and is second in earned runs (44), while ranking No. 10 in the NCAA at the start of the week in team earned-run average (1.27). The Scarlet and Gray has given up more than four runs in a single game just three times and has shutout 15 opponents.

… AND MORE IS EVEN MORE
In addition to holding opponents’ scoring at bay, the Buckeyes are second in the Big Ten in runs scored (197) and were 12th in the nation homeruns per game and No. 32 with an average of 5.35 runs scored per game at the beginning of this week. They have out-scored opponents by a combined 197-54 a 143-run difference and defeated 12 teams by eight runs or more.

700 AND COUNTING
With an 11-3 victory over Eastern Michigan last Sunday, head coach Linda Kalafatis earned her 700th career win. In 21 seasons as a collegiate head coach, Coach Kalafatis has earned a 710-394-2 record for a .643 winning percentage. The second game of the doubleheader vs. Ball State April 1 was Kalafatis’ 1100th game as a collegiate head coach (1106). She is among the Top 30 winningest active coaches and is third among current Big Ten coaches in number of victories with five fewer years coaching experience than her nearest colleague.

BIG TEN OPENERS
Under Linda Kalafatis, Ohio State is 6-7 in Big Ten openers, including wins in each of the last three. During this stretch, the Buckeyes have faced Michigan State twice in the first conference game of the year, defeating the Spartans to open the 2002 and 2009 Big Ten schedule.

THIRD (AND FIFTH) INNINGS ARE A CHARM
The Buckeyes have outscored opponents 38-11 in the third inning, 37-9 in the fifth and 197-54 total. Some 38 percent of the team’s total runs are scored between those two innings, with the fifth-inning margin as the largest differential between Ohio State and its opponents (28), though the Buckeyes hold the advantage in all innings.  

THE MIGHTY HAVE FALLEN
Ohio State has seven wins over teams ranked in either the NFCA or USA Softball polls this season, with three coming while the Buckeyes were unranked themselves. They knocked off then-No. 5 Texas A&M twice at the Easton Tiger Classic in Baton Rouge, while also defeating then-No. 21 LSU at its home tourney. The Buckeyes then extended the streak to four games with a win over No. 17 Nevada at the Cathedral City Classic before falling to third-ranked Washington, 1-0, in eight innings. They added wins over then-No. 25 Mississippi State at the NFCA Leadoff Classic, No. 17 Louisville on its home field March 14 and No. 24 Iowa March 28.

TOUGH SLATE
Seven teams on the Buckeyes’ 2009 schedule are currently ranked in the Top 25 by the NFCA and/or USA Softball, while three others have spent time in the polls already this season or are currently receiving votes for entry. Heading into the season, Ohio State had 16 scheduled games against teams in the 2008 NCAA Tournament, with the possibility of more during tournament play. The Buckeyes are 7-3 in their 10 games against ranked opponents last coming off a split in their series with No. 24 (USA Softball) Iowa.

SCOUTING ILLINOIS
The Illini, 22-10 overall and 5-2 in the Big Ten, have won four-consecutive games, including two over conference foe Wisconsin, to start the streak. They are currently ranked third in the Big Ten behind Ohio State. Illinois is batting .291 as a team, led by Danielle Zymkowitz and her .445 average.  The second baseman leads the league with 48 hits and is tied for first with 34 runs scored. Joining Zymkowitz among the Illini offensive leaders are Hollie Pinchback and Hope Howell. Howell went 3-for-4 from the plate against Wisconsin, reaching base in all seven plate appearances. She also drove in a pair of runs and crossed the plate four times, scoring the game-winning run in the second contest against the Badgers.

SERIES HISTORY WITH THE ILLINI
Ohio State owns a 14-9 advantage all time against Illinois, winning five of the last six meetings. The teams split the series last season, with the then-No. 22 Buckeyes falling 4-3 in the first game of a doubleheader before coming back to win 11-10 in the second March 30. Sam Marder’s sacrifice fly in the sixth inning brought home the 21st and final run in the highest-scoring Big Ten game in Buckeye Field history as the No. 22 Ohio State softball team erased two multiple-run deficits to beat Illinois, 11-10, Sunday in game two of a doubleheader. All 10 Illini runs came on four home runs in the nearly three-hour affair, but Illinois (17-17, 1-1 Big Ten) committed six errors and walked 11 OSU batters. The Buckeyes (23-8, 2-2 Big Ten) capitalized on those walks five of the OSU batters who walked scored and four drew walks with the bases loaded to force home a run.

REWRITING HISTORY
After being walked 35 times through 36 games this season junior Sam Marder stretches her lead atop the all-time walks chart with 139 in the last three seasons. On the OSU career home run list, Marder is in sole possession of second place with 38 just three shy of the all-time Ohio State record 41 set by Kristine Himes (2000-03), while junior Courtney Pruner, who jacked the first homer at New Buckeye Field, moves into fourth with 21. Marder also ranks third with 135 RBI. In the circle, senior Kim Reeder is third in wins (66) and innings pitched (671.0) and fourth in strikeouts (616). See page six for complete career record watch.
 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).

WELL SEASONED
In addition to all the career records falling by the wayside, this year’s team is well-positioned to dominate the season record books. With 14 to her credit, Sam Marder needs three to take the lead on the homerun chart. Kristine Holmes tallied 16 during the 2002 season. Marder is also expected to break the Top 5 in RBI, hits and RBI.

HOME BODIES
Ohio State is 5-1 at New Buckeye Field and has won 10 of its last 11 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 328-136 (.705) all-time at Buckeye Field since the facility originally opened in 1988. That mark includes a 130-107 (.545) record in Big Ten games and a 188-29 (.865) record in non-league games.

MARDER-DOM
Junior All-American Sam Marder was named one of 25 finalists for the 2009 USA Softball Collegiate Player of the Year April 1, as selected by the Amateur Softball Association of America (ASA), the National Governing Body of softball in the United States. This is the second-consecutive season the Calabasas, Calif., native has been named a Top 25 finalist for the award that is considered the most prestigious honor in Division I collegiate softball. Marder is one of three Big Ten players among the finalists, joining Michigan’s Nikki Nemitz and Northwestern’s Tammy Williams, and is one of three catchers.

BODEKER THROWS NO-HITTER
Bodeker threw the first Ohio State no-hitter since April 17, 2007, when she shutout Eastern Michigan March 14 in Louisville. The West Chester, Ohio, native retired the side three times and struck out six in just 16 at bats. She also tallied her Big Ten-best fourth save of the year against Louisville earlier in the day March 14. She currently leads the Big Ten with a 0.81 ERA and has a .185 opponent batting average.

REEDER IS FUNDAMENTAL
On Feb. 17, Kim Reeder became the first Buckeye to be named the USA Softball Collegiate National Player of the Week. The senior captain helped lead the Buckeyes to a five-game sweep of the Easton Tiger Classic in Baton Rouge, La., Feb. 13-15.  Named the tournament MVP, she compiled a 3-0 record in the circle with wins against a then No. 5 Texas A&M and No. 20 LSU. Against LSU, the right-handed hurler tallied a 2-0 shutout victory with seven strikeouts allowing just two hits before defeating Sam Houston State in four innings with a 6-3 victory.  Against the Texas A&M Aggies Sunday, Reeder struck out 11 batters and allowed just two hits. In four games of action, Reeder gave up just one run on eight hits for a 0.38 ERA through the weekend. The Calabasas, Calif., native also has been named Big Ten pitcher of the week twice this season Feb. 16 after the tournament at LSU and March 2 following a 2-0 showing at the NFCA Leadoff Classic.

COMEBACK KID
Redshirt junior Courtney Pruner returns to the Buckeyes after sitting out the entire 2008 season while recovering from hip surgery. As a sophomore in 2007, she was a first-team All-Big Ten selection after batting .336 with seven home runs and 37 RBI. Now, with seven already this season and 21 career home runs, she holds fourth place all-time in the OSU records books, moving up from No. 7 at the start of the season.

THIRTY-SOMETHING
After defeating Indiana Wednesday, Ohio State has won at least 30 games each of the last six seasons, the longest 30-win streak in program history. The record for wins in a season is 55, set in 2002 (55-14).

FREQUENT FLYERS
The Buckeyes spent five of the first six weekends of the season on the road as the snow melted and temperatures warmed up in Ohio. They made treks to Las Cruces, N.M., Baton Rouge, La., Palm Springs, Calif., Columbus, Ga., and Louisville, Ky., totaling approximately 11,168 miles with at least one stop in each of the four continental time zones.

5.9-MILLION DOLLAR BUCKEYES
Home plate remains where it has rested at Buckeye Field since 1988, but little else will be the same for the Ohio State softball complex after $5.9 million of stadium renovations. The 2009 season marks the first in the new 1,500-seat Buckeye Field 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.

LUCKY 13 FOR HEAD COACH LINDA KALAFATIS
Head coach Linda Kalafatis is in her 13th season at Ohio State in 2009 and her 21st season as a collegiate head coach. Kalafatis, who twice has been named the Big Ten Coach of the Year (2002, 2007), is Ohio State’s all-time wins leader (428-276) and is one of three Big Ten coaches with more than 650 career wins (710-393-2). Eight times the Buckeyes have won at least 30 games under Kalafatis, who guided Ohio State to the NCAA tournament four times (2002, 2004, 2006, 2007). She is assisted by former collegiate All-Americans Ali Viola (Nebraska) and Erica Beach (Arizona State).

BUCKEYES TAKE WIN NO. 900
Ohio State recorded the program’s 900th win with a 2-0 shutout decision over Hofstra Feb. 27 at the NFCA Leadoff Classic in Columbus, Ga. In 36 years of Buckeye softball, the program holds a 910-801-4 record.

CAPTAIN, OBVIOUSLY
The Ohio State softball team has selected a quartet of captains for the 2009 season announced head coach Linda Kalafatis. Senior Kim Reeder, along with juniors Whitney Cooper, Sam Marder and Courtney Pruner will guide the Buckeyes in the upcoming year.
     “These four young women will do an excellent job of leading our team with their work ethic, attitude and performance on the field,” Kalafatis said. “They are great people with strong values.”

OHIO STATE IN SEASON OPENERS
Ohio State has won its last five season-openers and eight of its last 10. In their last 10 season-opening tournaments, the Buckeyes are 34-16. This season, the Buckeyes opened at the Hotel Encanto Invitational in Las Cruces, N.M., where they picked up four-consecutive wins, including the opener against Cleveland State, before dropping their last game of the tournament to host New Mexico State.