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Ohio State takes four-game winning streak and 15-3 record to the Bluegrass State.

COLUMBUS, Ohio The No. 22/17 (NFCA/USA Softball polls) and Big Ten-leading Ohio State softball team returns to action this weekend with five scheduled games at the Courtyard by Marriott Airport Cardinal Tournament, hosted by the University of Louisville March 13-15 at Ulmer Stadium. The Buckeyes are slated to face Loyola (Ill.) at 10 a.m. Friday, followed by UIC at 2 p.m. before Saturday games vs. No. 17/18 Louisville at noon and Eastern Michigan at 4 p.m. Ohio State wraps up its weekend with another game against Eastern Michigan at 10 a.m. Sunday. The Scarlet and Gray is 15-3 on the season and is ranked in both major softball polls for the third-consecutive week.
     Ohio State last took the field Feb. 27-28 at the NFCA Leadoff Classic in Columbus, Ga., where it picked up shutout wins against No. 25 Mississippi State, Hofstra and Illinois State by a combined 14-0 score. Senior Kim Reeder earned her second Big Ten pitcher of the week honor following two outings in Georgia with 19 strikeouts and no runs allowed through 14 complete innings of work.
     The Buckeyes are led at the plate by All-American and USA Softball player of the year candidate Sam Marder, who has a conference-leading nine homeruns on the season with a .389 batting average and 21 RBI. On defense, the Ohio State infield has been stellar of late, recording over 85 percent of the team’s total put-outs and allowing an average of fewer than five hits per game. Second baseman Whitney Cooper and shortstop Alicia Herron lead the team with 35 put-outs apiece.
     Reeder and redshirt sophomore Lindsay Bodeker have split the bulk of the time in the circle for the Buckeyes this season and hold spots two and three, respectively, in the Big Ten for ERA. Reeder, with a 0.90 ERA, has not allowed a run since Feb. 22 against UC Santa Barbara and is seventh in the conference with 74 total strikeouts. Bodeker holds a 0.94 ERA and leads the Big Ten in saves (3).

ABOUT THE TOURNAMENT
Louisville is hosting its third-consecutive tournament of the season at Ulmer Stadium. The field consists of the host Cardinals, as well as Loyola, UIC, Eastern Michigan and Minnesota. The Buckeyes will wait until April 4-5 to take on the Golden Gophers during the Big Ten schedule and will instead face Eastern Michigan twice on the weekend. The complete game schedule can be found on Louisville’s athletics Web site: UofLsports.com

 Date Opponent Time March 13  Loyolavs. Ohio State  10 a.m. March 13  OhioState vs. UIC  2 p.m. March 14  OhioState vs. Louisville  Noon March 14 Ohio State vs. E. Michigan  4p.m.. March 15  E. Michigan vs. Ohio State 10 a.m.Home team is listed second

FOLLOW THE BUCKEYES
Live stats: Live stats for all five of the Buckeyes’ games at the Courtyard by Marriott Airport Cardinal Tournament 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. Katie Simonton takes over the reins for the trip to Louisville, Ky., following up Leah Ledford’s blog from the NFCA Leadoff Classic two weekends ago. Look at OhioStateBuckeyes.com to read previous entries from Kim Reeder, Whitney Cooper and Tory Haddad.

POLL POSITION
The Buckeyes are ranked in the Top 25 in both the NFCA/USA Today and ESPN.com/USA Softball polls for the third-consecutive week, though they fall down a spot to Nos. 22 and 17, 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 75-42 all-time, 6-2 this season, when ranked in either the USA Softball or NFCA polls.

NEXT UP: HOMECOMING
Following the final early season tournament of the year in Louisville, the Buckeyes will come home for the first time. The New Buckeye Field’ is slated to open March 21 with Ohio State’s first Big Ten series vs. Michigan State. The stadium will not officially be dedicated until the April 11 game vs. Iowa; however, the Buckeyes are scheduled to take the field six times prior to that date.

HIT THE ROAD
The Buckeyes will not play a home game at the new Buckeye Field until March 21, instead spending five of the first six weekends of the season on the road. They have made treks to Las Cruces, N.M., Baton Rouge, La., Palm Springs, Calif., and Columbus, Ga., totaling approximately 10,756 miles. With only a bus ride to Louisville and 412 round-trip miles to go, the end is nearly in sight. The team will travel a total of 11,168 miles by the end of the early tournament season, with at least one stop in each of the four continental time zones.

THIRD INNING’S A CHARM
The Buckeyes have outscored opponents 23-3 in the third inning this season and 100-26 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 five 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 another win over then-No. 25 Mississippi State at the NFCA Leadoff Classic and are prepared to face No. 17/18 Louisville this weekend.

TOUGH SLATE
Seven teams on the Buckeyes’ 2009 schedule are currently ranked in the Top 25 by the NFCA and/or USA Softball, while five 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.

 Team

 NFCA Rank

 USA Softball Rank

 Rank vs. OSU
(NFCA)

 Washington

t2 

 Michigan

10 

10 

May 6 

 Northwestern

13 

12 

May 2-3 

 North Carolina

15 

15 

March 24 

 Louisville

17 

18 

17 

 Texas A&M

18

25

 5

 LSU

20

22

 21

 Nevada

RV

RV

 17

 Iowa

RV

RV 

 March 28-29

 Illinois

RV

NR

 April 11-12

 Mississippi State

NR

NR

 25

 New Mexico State

NR

RV

 NR

 
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.

OHIO STATE AT A GLANCE
The Buckeyes are on pace for one of the best seasons in program history, after tying the best 10-game start (9-1), rallying to earn the best record through 15 games (12-3) and then staying on track to best the best 20-game record (16-4, 2008). They are now atop the Big Ten conference with a 15-3 record, including four-consecutive wins, and have outscored opponents 100-26 on the year. Ohio State has shut out each of its last three opponents and has not allowed a run since Feb. 22 against UC Santa Barbara.
     Ohio State holds a .291 team batting average with 25 total homeruns and 49 total extra-base hits. Four players are batting over .350, including Sam Marder, a preseason candidate for the USA Softball Player of the Year award, with a .389 average. She also leads the homerun charge with nine, giving her 33 for her career to take over second place on the career charts. Marder is now eight homeruns away from matching the record of 41 set by Kristine Himes in 2000-03.
     The Ohio State pitching staff has an ERA of 1.00, while its opponents are hitting just .195. Senior Kim Reeder and redshirt sophomore Lindsay Bodeker have split the bulk of the time in the circle for the Buckeyes this season. Bodeker is third in the Big Ten with a 0.94 ERA and first in saves (3) through 10 appearances, while Reeder is second in ERA (0.90), seventh in wins (8) and sixth in opponent batting percentage (.180).
     Marder, a junior All-American, and Reeder headline the list of returnees, along with junior infielder Whitney Cooper. The Buckeyes also welcome back 2007 first-team All-Big Ten first baseman Courtney Pruner, who redshirted last season while recovering from injury. The Buckeyes were 33-23 last season.
     Nine current players saw action during the 2007 season and the Buckeyes’ run for the Big Ten regular season and tournament titles. A couple years older and wiser, this veteran core is expected to lead Ohio State in its quest to return to the top of the conference and region.

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.”

MARDER-DOM
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.

REWRITING HISTORY
On the OSU career home run list, junior Sam Marder is in sole possession of second place with 33 and junior Courtney Pruner, who missed all of last season with an injury, moves into a tie for fifth with 16. Marder also ranks third with 108 walks and fourth with 124 RBI. In the circle, senior Kim Reeder ranks third (tie) in wins (59) and fourth in strikeouts (565) and innings pitched (626.1).
 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).

BUCKEYES IN THE BIG TEN
Despite taking a weekend off while eight other Big Ten teams remained in action, Ohio State maintains a Top 3 spot in six offensive categories, including homeruns (2nd, 25), RBI (2nd, 89) and runs scored (2nd, 100). Buckeyes control several individual categories as well, led by Sam Marder’s nine homeruns and 52 total bases.

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.

AROUND THE FIELD
Courtyard by Marriott Airport Cardinal Tournament field: Eastern Michigan, Louisville, Loyola and UIC

SCOUTING EASTERN MICHIGAN: The Eagles hold a 5-8 record after taking each of the last two weeks off. They handed host Louisville one of its two losses on the season Feb. 22, earning votes for the first time in the subsequent NFCA poll. Sophomore Stacie Skodinsk is hitting .472 with 10 RBI, seven extra-base hits and a .778 slugging percentage. Junior Jenny Scherer is also an Eagle offensive leader. She became Eastern Michigan’s all-time leader in career home run after hitting the 25th of her career March 1.
 Series History: The Buckeyes hold an 11-3 advantage in the all-time series, including wins each of four meetings under head coach Linda Kalafatis. The teams last met March 21, 2008, with Ohio State earning a 2-1 win at the Buckeye Invitational in Columbus. Sam Marder drove home both runs, tallying an RBI single in the third that scored Dee Dee Hillman and another single in the bottom of the seventh that plated Liz Caputo.

SCOUTING LOUISVILLE: The Cardinals are currently 18-2 on the season and ranked 17th by the NFCA and 18th by USA Softball for their highest rankings in program history. They ride a six-game winning streak into the weekend, outscoring opponents 41-7 during that stretch and 113-35 overall. Louisville is batting .323 as a team with five batters holding an average higher than .350. With eight starters above the .300 mark, sophomores Chelsea Bemis and Colby Wherry are atop the team’s batting leaders with averages of .379 and .378, respectively. Melissa Roth has a team-leading 17 runs, while Bemis and Vanessa James is not far behind with 14. Kristi Cunningam has a team-leading six home runs and 2s RBI on the season.
 Series History: First meeting.

SCOUTING LOYOLA:  Loyola is 8-4 overall after winning three out of five games at the Under Armour Invitational hosted by South Florida last weekend. Sophomore Haley Ambrosch was the lone Rambler on the all-tournament team after batting .533 with four doubles, a home run and five RBI in five games. For the year, Ambrosch is batting .367, which ties with Stevie Bradich for the team lead, with five doubles, a home run, seven runs scored and nine RBI.
 Series History: Ohio States lead the all-time series 4-1, though the teams have not met since the 2004 season a 3-0 win for the Buckeyes at the Buckeye Invitational. That is the lone meeting during Kalafatis’ tenure at Ohio State.

SCOUTING UIC: The Flames are 4-14 overall after ending last weekend with a 2-3 record at the Under Armour Invitational hosted by South Florida. Melissa Marinacci is one of two UIC players hitting above .300. She has a .320 average with a team-leading 16 hits and 10 RBI to lead the Flames along with Melinda Macias with a .311 average and eight runs to her credit. Ashley Hewett has made 15 appearances in the circle this season, holding a 2-7 record and 3.45 ERA to her credit. Sarah Clynes threw her first victory of the season with the Flames’ win over St. Bonaventure last weekend.
 Series History: First meeting.

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 pressbox, player clubhouse and lounge, new dugouts, coaches and umpires dressing room 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 (696-389-2). 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).

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. 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.

THIRTY-SOMETHING
Ohio State has won at least 30 games each of the last five seasons, the longest 30-win streak in program history. In 2008, the Buckeyes went 33-23 overall.

HOME BODIES
Ohio State won its last five home games last season but went 10-12 at Buckeye Field overall 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, 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.
 Ohio State is now 325-135 (.705) all-time at Buckeye Field since the facility opened in 1988. That mark includes a 127-106 (.545) record in Big Ten games and a 188-29 (.865) record in non-league games.