COLUMBUS, Ohio The No. 17/15 (NFCA/USA Softball polls) Ohio State softball team hosts Ball State in a doubleheader beginning at 5 p.m. Wednesday in non-conference action at New Buckeye Field. The Buckeyes (24-6, 3-1 Big Ten) are 3-1 at home since opening their new stadium March 21 against Michigan State and are looking to rebound from a loss to Iowa over the weekend. Ball State (13-14) has won four of its last five games, including a two-game sweep of Eastern Michigan one of four mutual opponents for the Cardinals and Ohio State on their early season schedules.
The games against Ball Stare mark the third series at New Buckeye Field. The stadium underwent a $5.9-million renovation prior to the 2009 season. The new 1,500-seat park features indoor batting cages, a three-plate bullpen, 650-square foot press box, player clubhouse and locker room, new dugouts, coaches and umpires dressing rooms and concession areas.
FOLLOW THE BUCKEYES
Webcast: The majority of Ohio State home games, including the doubleheader vs. Ball State, 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 softball schedule page on OhioStateBuckeyes.com
Blog: Follow the team’s travels with different players this season via their “On the Road with the Buckeyes” blog. The next installment will follow the Buckeyes’ trip to Minneapolis, Minn., April 3-5.
New Buckeye Field will officially be dedicated at 2 p.m. April 11 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.
OHIO STATE AT A GLANCE
From the batter’s box: Junior captain Whitney Cooper and freshman Vanessa Spears each batted .500 in the Iowa series, with Spears cranking her first career homerun a two-run shot to center in the second game. Cooper was 3-for-6 on the weekend and scored three runs. As a team this season, the Buckeyes are hitting .283 with 37 homers led by junior All-American and Sam Marder with a .395 average. The junior captain has belted a Big Ten-leading 12 homeruns this season and has tallied 29 RBI (1.0 per game). Marder and Courtney Pruner are both making their way up the Buckeye career homerun charts, holding second and fourth place, respectively. Marder, a candidate for the 2009 USA Softball player of the year award has and 36 for her career just five 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.
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 1.37 ERA and .213 opponent batting average. Miller is undefeated (4-0) in the circle, while Reeder is second in the Big Ten in ERA (0.94) and has been steadily moving up in the all-time record books for wins, strikeouts and innings pitched (see page 6). Bodeker (8-3) has a conference-leading four saves this season after throwing the first Ohio State no-hitter since April 17, 2007, when she shut out Eastern Michigan March 14 in Louisville.
On the field: Second baseman Whitney Cooper leads the team with 56 assists and sits in seventh place in the conference in the same category. She also holds a .950 fielding percentage with five errors after playing and starting in all 30 games the only player to do so this season. Dee Dee Hillman is the only other player to see action in every game, making 27 starts, primarily in center field.
The Buckeyes are ranked in the Top 25 in both the NFCA/USA Today and ESPN.com/USA Softball polls for the sixth-consecutive week and have moved to Nos. 17 and 15, respectively. 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 84-45 all-time, 15-5 this season, when ranked in either the USA Softball or NFCA polls.
NEXT UP: ON THE ROAD AGAIN
Following the mid-week games with Ball State, the Buckeyes are scheduled to take on Minnesota at 1 p.m. CT (2 p.m. ET) Saturday and Sunday in Big Ten conference play in Minneapolis, Minn. The Golden Gophers are 20-19 on the season and 3-1 in the conference.
LESS IS MORE …
Ohio State leads the Big Ten in fewest runs allowed (49) and is second in earned runs (39), while ranking No. 14 in the NCAA at the start of the week in team earned-run average (1.4). The Scarlet and Gray has given up more than four runs in a single game just once and has shutout 11 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 (167) and were 11th in the nation homeruns per game and No. 26 with an average of 5.57 runs scored per game. They have out-scored opponents by a combined 167-49 a 118-run difference and defeated 10 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 704-394-2 record for a .641 winning percentage. 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 INNING’S A CHARM
The Buckeyes have outscored opponents 35-11 in the third inning this season and 167-49 total. The third-inning margin is the largest differential between Ohio State and its opponents, 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 currently 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.
Seven teams on the Buckeyes’ 2009 schedule are currently ranked in the Top 25 by the NFCA and/or USA Softball, while four 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 coming off a split in their series with No. 24 (USA Softball) Iowa.
SCOUTING BALL STATE
The Cardinals are currently led in the circle by Elizabeth Milian, who boasts a 10-9 record with a 1.59 ERA. At the plate, Ball State features three players who are hitting .300 or better, with Alyssa Collins leading the way at .402. Collins is on an 11-game hitting streak and has tallied eight multi-hit games, including five in the last two games. Jen Reifschneider is the sole player to log a home run this season with a team and MAC-best seven. Through 27 games, the Cardinals have stolen 46 bases with Lisa Rozanski going 11-for-11 on stolen base attempts.
SERIES HISTORY WITH THE CARDINALS
Ohio State holds a 13-6 all-time advantage in the series, including a pair of victories last season in a doubleheader April 23 in Columbus. The Buckeyes shutout Ball State, 2-0, in the first game off nine strikeouts by Kim Reeder and runs from Kady Caughenbaugh and Rebecca Schultz before coming up with a 7-0 blanking in the second. Ohio State scattered six hits and reached base six times on walks with Megan Miller earning the win in the circle.
Ohio State is 3-1 at New Buckeye Field and has won eight of its last nine 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.
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.
Junior All-America catcher Sam Marder was selected by the Amateur Softball Association of America (ASA), the National Governing Body of Softball in the United States, to its initial 50-player “Watch List” for the Eighth Annual USA Softball National Collegiate Player of the Year Award. This award, considered the most prestigious honor in Division I women’s collegiate softball, is designed to recognize outstanding athletic achievement by female collegiate softball players across the country. A list of 25 finalists will be announced April 1. A finalist for the same award last year, Marder is one of six Big Ten players and five catchers to be named to the Watch List this year.
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.”
After being walked seven times in the last five games, junior Sam Marder moved atop the all-time walks chart with 122 in the last three seasons. On the OSU career home run list, Marder is in sole possession of second place with 36 just five 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 132 RBI. In the circle, senior Kim Reeder is third in wins (62) and innings pitched (646.1) and fourth in strikeouts (590).
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).
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. With 14 career home runs, she maintains a tie for seventh place all-time in the OSU records books after just two seasons of action.
Ohio State has won at least 30 games each of the last five seasons, the longest 30-win streak in program history. With 23 games remaining on the schedule for the regular season, the Buckeyes are in a good position to extend that streak to six seasons. The record for wins in a season is 55, set in 2002 (55-14).
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 (422-276) and is one of three Big Ten coaches with more than 650 career wins (703-393-2). 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.
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.