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Ohio State (25-16) coming off 2-2 Big Ten road trip; Marder named finalist for USA Softball Collegiate Player of the Year

Ohio State vs. Kentucky
Doubleheader, April 16, 2008
Buckeye Field – Columbus, Ohio

ALL-TIME SERIES
Ohio State is 5-2 all-time against Deb Moore’s Kentucky Wildcats, including 2-2 at Buckeye Field. The last time the Buckeyes met the Wildcats was in 2004, when they split a doubleheader (won 6-4, lost 4-3).

IF YOU’RE SCORING AT HOME
Live Audio: www.OhioStateSports.net
Live Stats: www.OhioStateBuckeyes.com
For More Information: Game notes, recaps, box scores and photos at OhioStateBuckeyes.com.

FIVE WARM-UP PITCHES
1. Sophomore Sam Marder has been named a finalist (25 named) for the USA Softball Collegiate Player of the Year Award. She leads the Big Ten in slugging pct. (.864) and on base pct. (.614), ranks second in RBI (46) and batting average (.466) and third in home runs (12).
2. Ohio State is 319-131 (.709) all-time at Buckeye Field since the facility opened in 1988. That record includes a 183-28 (.876) record in non-league games.  
3. Senior Brittany Vanderink is tied for second in the Big Ten lead in hits (52) and ranks third in runs (35).
4. In Ohio State’s regular batting order, only two returning starters have played in every game this season, including Brittany Vanderink and Sam Marder.
5. In June, a $5.9 million renovation project will begin at Buckeye Field, which opened in 1988.

SETTING THE SCENE
COLUMBUS, Ohio –
An eight-game home stand begins Wednesday for the Ohio State softball team, which hosts Kentucky in a doubleheader beginning at 5 p.m. The Buckeyes are 25-16 overall and 4-8 at home this season, while the Wildcats are 15-27 and 4-7 on the road.

Ohio State is coming off a 2-2 Big Ten road trip that saw the Buckeyes split two games at Indiana and Purdue. Following the doubleheader against Kentucky Wednesday, Ohio State hosts Michigan Friday and Saturday and Penn State for two games Sunday, then wraps up the home stand next Wednesday with a twin bill against Ball State.

LISTEN TO THE BUCKEYES ONLINE
Log on to www.OhioStateSports.net to listen to the Buckeyes take on Kentucky Wednesday. Josh Ellis and Gabe Norris will have the call. In addition, live statistics for both games will be available at www.OhioStateBuckeyes.com.

THE BUCKEYES AT HOME
Ohio State’s 4-8 record at home so far this season is an uncharacteristic one. Ohio State was 21-2 at home in both 2007 and 2006 and had won 25 in a row at home from April 22, 2006 until a 1-0 loss to Iowa March 29 earlier this season.

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 statistical leaders at home this season:

Sam Marder –    .500, 3 HR, 8 R, 9 RBI
Dee Dee Hillman –    .297, 6 R, 11 hits
Tory Haddad –    .222, 6 hits, 5 RBI
Kim Reeder –    2-5, 3.41 ERA, 46 K, 51.1 IP

OSU GEARING UP FOR BIG WEEKEND
This weekend marks Scarlet and Gray Days, when the Ohio State department of athletics seeks to set four attendance records. The softball Buckeyes will be featured Sunday when they take on Penn State. The attendance record at Buckeye Field is 1,175, set last May against Cal State Fullerton in the NCAA tournament. The regular-season attendance record is 682, set April 19, 2003 against Michigan.

Other home events on the docket this weekend that are part of the Scarlet and Gray Days include baseball vs. Purdue at 6:35 p.m., men’s lacrosse at 11 a.m. in Ohio Stadium and the NYSP Spring Football Game at approximately 1:30 p.m.

BUCKEYES LAST WEEKEND
Ohio State went 2-2 on the road last weekend, splitting games at Indiana (won 3-2, lost 0-1) and Purdue (won 7-4, lost 1-3). Among the highlights were:
– Friday at Indiana (W, 3-2): Kim Reeder struck out a career-high 12 batters and Sam Marder hit her 12th home run (10th GWRBI in 2008).
– Saturday at Indiana (L, 4-0): Reeder pitched her 500th career inning.
– Sunday at Purdue, Game 1 (W, 7-4): Megan Miller notched her first career Big Ten pitching win. Rebecca Schultz made her first career start at second base and went 2-for-4.
– Sunday at Purdue, Game 2 (L, 3-1): Brittany Vanderink collected her 200th career hit (sixth Buckeye to do so). Kim Reeder threw her 17th complete gaeme of the season.
Statistical leaders from last weekend:

Brittany Vanderink –    .333 (4-12), 2 RBI
Tory Haddad –    .308 (4-13), 2 RBI, 1 2B
Whitney Cooper –    .250 (3-12)
Rebecca Schultz –    .250 (2-8), 1 2B
Sam Marder –    .250 (1-4), 11 BB, 1 HR, 2 RBI
Megan Miller –    1-0, 0-00 ERA, 7 IP, 0 ER
Kim Reeder –   1-2, 3.32 ERA, 19.0 IP, 26 K
 
OHIO STATE AT A GLANCE
The Buckeyes have only three field starters and one starting pitcher back from their 2007 Big Ten champion team that went 40-18 overall and 14-2 in the conference.

Ohio State began the season 21-6 after five southern tournaments and two home nonconference wins, marking the program’s second-best 27-game start. Since then, however, the Buckeyes are 4-10 to see their record now stand at 25-16 overall. Their 4-8 Big Ten record has them in eighth place.

Ohio State is batting .269 overall (sixth in Big Ten) and opponents are batting .247. OSU pitchers own a 2.53 staff ERA (fourth in Big Ten) and have struck out 234 batters in 279.2 innings.

Leading the Buckeyes at the plate is a pair of 2007 first-team All-Big Ten selections, including sophomore Sam Marder (.466, 12 HR, 46 RBI) and senior Brittany Vanderink (.361, 35 R, 14-15 SB). In the circle are junior Kim Reeder (13-11, 2.01 ERA) and sophomores Lindsay Bodeker (6-2, 1.23 ERA) and Megan Miller (6-3, 3.80).

The Buckeyes are 20-2 this season when leading or tied after four innings. Ohio State is 19-5 when scoring first.

Ohio State has 11 letterwinners back from its 2007 squad that won both the league’s regular-season and conference championships. The Buckeyes hosted an NCAA Regional last season and came within one win of their first trip to Super Regionals before falling twice to Cal State Fullerton.

In Big Ten games last season, Ohio State led the Big Ten in batting (.319) and fielding (.973) and ranked third in pitching (2.50 ERA). Overall, the Buckeyes batted .292 as a team, compared to .221 by their opponents. The pitching staff owned a 2.37 ERA, which was almost two full runs lower than the opposition (4.11).

THE HOME RUN QUEEN RETURNS
First-year Kentucky assistant coach Kristine Himes was an All-Big Ten slugger for the Buckeyes from 2000-03. An OSU captain in 2003, Himes led the Buckeyes in home runs all four years and her 41 career homers still stand as the school record. Her 138 career runs batted in rank second all-time at Ohio State and her 74 walks rank third.

SISTER ACT
Kentucky freshman Annie Rowlands is the younger sister of former Buckeye Meghan Rowlands, who wore the scarlet and gray from 2002-05 and played centerfield for Ohio State.

The Rowlands family, which is from nearly Hilliard, Ohio, and attended Bishop Ready High School, includes another Buckeye, Tommy, who was an All-American wrestler for Ohio State and is now an OSU assistant coach. Another older sister, Kate, played soccer at Kentucky.

OTHER OSU-OPPONENT CONNECTIONS
Ohio State freshman Karisa Medrano played travel ball with Kentucky sophomore Natalie Smith.

A LOOK AT THE WILDCATS
Kentucky (15-27, 3-16 Southeastern Conference) is led at the plate by Molly Johnson (.386, 15 2B, 6 HR, 31 RBI) and Natalie Smith (.372, 24 R). Amber Matousek (9-14, 3.84 ERA) leads the pitching staff. The Wildcats got off to a 13-10 start with a win over No. 6 Tennessee, but are 2-17 since. Kentucky has three returning field starters and five pitchers back from its 2007 team that went 20-31 overall and 4-24 in the SEC.

BUCKEYES VS. WILDCATS
Ohio State leads the all-time series with Kentucky, 5-2, with the last four meetings coming at Buckeye Field (2002 and 2004). The Wildcats split those two doubleheaders, with their 4-3 win in 2004 representing the last time Ohio State lost a regular-season nonconference game at home until the loss to Marshall earlier this season.

MARDER FINALIST FOR USA SOFTBALL PLAYER OF THE YEAR
Ohio State sophomore Sam Marder was named a finalist for the Amateur Softball Association’s Collegiate Player of the Year Award. Marder is one of only five sophomores among the 25 finalists. The list will be narrowed to 10 May 7, then three May 21.

Predominantly a catcher, Marder leads the Buckeyes with a .466 average overall, five doubles, 12 home runs, 46 runs batted in, 41 walks, a .864 slugging percentage and a .614 on base percentage.

Last year, Marder led the Buckeyes with a .359 average, 10 home runs, 49 runs batted in and a school record 44 walks on her way to earning first-team honors from the Big Ten and NFCA Great Lakes Region.

A WALK ON THE WILD SIDE
Sophomore Sam Marder has been walked this season 41 times already, including 26 times in Big Ten games. Marder is only 7-14 officially against conference opponents with three home runs and an .818 on base percentage. Here is a breakdown on how Big Ten teams have pitched to Marder so far:

Opp.        Plate App.  BB   Officially
Iowa            7        6   1-1, 1 HR, 1 RBI
Illinois        9        4   2-3, 1 RBI
Mich. St.       7        3   3-4, 1 HR , 1 RBI
Northwestern    6        2   0-2
Indiana         7        5   1-2, 1 HR, 2 RBI
Purdue          8        6   0-2

IN MEMORY OF MARSHA PRUNER
The Buckeyes will wear “MP” on their uniforms and helmets for the rest of the season in honor of Marsha Pruner, the mother of OSU junior Courtney Pruner, who passed away March 21.

HEAD COACH LINDA KALAFATIS
Head coach Linda Kalafatis is in her 12th season at Ohio State in 2008 and her 20th 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 (397-264, .606) and is one of three Big Ten coaches with more than 650 career wins (670-379-2, .643).

Seven times the Buckeyes have won at least 30 games under Kalafatis, who has 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).

FOR MORE ON THE BUCKEYES…
In addition to OhioStateBuckeyes.com, check out www.theozone.net and www.bigtennetwork.com/videos for interviews and photos.

BUCKEYES AMONG NATIONAL LEADERS
In the latest national statistics report released April 7, Ohio State sophomore Sam Marder ranked third in the nation in on base percentage (.594), fourth in batting average (.475), sixth in RBI per game (1.19) and slugging percentage (.859) and eighth in walks per game (.81).

Senior Brittany Vanderink ranked 28th in runs per game (.92).

Log on to www.NCAAsports.com for the complete report, which also includes Kim Reeder and Tory Haddad.

BUCKEYES IN THE BIG TEN
In Big Ten statistics as of April 14, Ohio State ranked sixth in batting average (.269), fourth in pitching (2.53 ERA) and 11th in fielding (.943).

As of April 14, sophomore Sam Marder led the league in slugging percentage (.864), on base percentage (.614) and walks (41) and ranked second in batting average (.466) and RBI (46) and third in home runs (12).

Senior Brittany Vanderink was tied for second in hits (52), ranked third in runs (35) and ninth in batting average (.361). Junior Kim Reeder ranked fourth in innings pitched (163.2), seventh in strikeouts (148), eighth in wins (13) and 10th in ERA (2.01).

IN THE CAREER RECORD BOOK
Senior Brittany Vanderink ranks fourth all-time at Ohio State in stolen bases (60), sixth in career batting average (.344), tied for fourth in triples (11) and sixth in runs scored (123). On the OSU career home run list, sophomore Sam Marder is third with 21 and junior Courtney Pruner, who will miss her junior season is tied for seventh with 14. In the circle, junior Kim Reeder ranks fourth in wins (46), fourth in strikeouts (439) and seventh in innings pitched (506.0).

OHIO STATE AT BUCKEYE FIELD
Ohio State is 319-131 (.709) all-time at Buckeye Field since the facility opened in 1988. That mark includes a 126-103 (.550) record in Big Ten games and a 183-28 (.876) record in non-league games.

Now 4-8 at home this season, Ohio State is 46-12 at Buckeye Field overall the last three seasons. Ohio State was dominating at home last season with a 21-2 record, which tied the best winning percentage in Buckeye Field history (.913) since the facility opened in 1988.

Ohio State batted .360 at home last season, compared to .184 by the opposition, and OSU pitchers compiled a 1.57 earned run average compared to 6.13 the opposing pitchers.

In 2006, Ohio State also went 21-2 at home, batted .350 as a team and owned a 1.58 staff earned run average.

TAKE A CHANCE ON ME
The 2008 Ohio State roster includes 13 freshman and sophomores. There are three juniors and two seniors. Senior Brittany Vanderink and sophomore Sam Marder have started all 37 games this season but are the only two starters back from last season who have done that. Five seniors graduated last year and first-team All-Big Ten selection Courtney Pruner, a junior in 2008, will miss the entire season because of offseason hip surgery.

BUCKEYE FIELD TO GET $5.9M FACELIFT
It was announced last year that Buckeye Field, home of Ohio State softball since 1988, will get a $5.9 million renovation as soon as the 2008 season is over. The new 1,500 seat stadium will include indoor and outdoor batting cages, a three-plate bullpen, 650-square foot press box, player clubhouse, lounge and locker room, new dugouts, coaches and umpires locker room and a concession area.

BUCKEYES RANKED FOR EIGHT WEEKS
Last week marked the first time this season that the Buckeyes were not among the nation’s Top 25 in either poll. Ohio State was ranked for the previous eight-consecutive weeks, tying the program record first set in 2003.

The Buckeyes were ranked No. 22 and No. 23 in the two preseason national polls and have been ranked as high as No. 18 (Feb. 11). Ohio State ended last season ranked in the same positions as in the two preseason national polls this season.

Ohio State is 69-38 all-time when ranked, including 25-11 at home when owning a Top 25 mark.

THE BUCKEYES AT NIGHT
Ohio State is 5-3 at night this season (4-0 on the road, 1-3 at home). Sophomore Sam Marder leads the offense in night games with a .522 average (12-23), four home runs and 12 RBI, while freshman Karisa Medrano is batting .409 (9-22). Junior Kim Reeder is 2-2 at night this season with a 2.33 ERA and sophomore Megan Miller is 2-1 in the circle (3.44 ERA).

The Buckeyes went 9-3 in night games last season, including 4-0 at home, 1-1 on the road and 4-2 at neutral sites. Among the highlights at night were a Kim Reeder no-hitter at UAB, a Jamee Juarez perfect game against IUPUI and three postseason wins at night at Buckeye Field. Sam Marder led the offense with a .423 average (11-26) in night games, while Reeder went 3-0 with a 1.47 ERA.

ROAD TRIPPIN’
The Buckeyes played five-consecutive early-season tournaments to begin the season that took them to DeLand, Fla. (went 5-0, Feb. 8-10), Miami (went 3-2 Feb. 15-17), Palm Springs (went 3-2 Feb. 22-24), Las Vegas (went 5-0 March 7-9) and Sacramento (went 3-2 March 14-16). Of note, the first two weeks of the season marked the first time Ohio State is playing in Florida twice in the same season.

COURTNEY PRUNER TO MISS 2008
Ohio State junior Courtney Pruner, a first-team All-Big Ten selection last season, will miss all of the 2008 season after undergoing hip surgery in December. Pruner batted .336 with seven home runs and 37 runs batted in last year and was penciled in to play first base this season.

BIG SHOES TO FILL
Ohio State said goodbye to five senior starters from its 2007 team, leaving big shoes to fill for the 2008 Buckeyes. Positions open include first base (Christina Douglas), shortstop (Nycole Koyano), pitcher/third base (Jamee Juarez), left field (Megan Schwab) and designated player (Lauren Daykin). All five of those Buckeyes earned postseason honors from the Big Ten last season.

AWARD WINNERS RETURN
Ohio State head coach Linda Kalafatis was named the 2007 Big Ten Coach of the Year and welcomes back three Buckeyes who earned All-Big Ten honors last season. Sophomore Sam Marder and junior Courtney Pruner were first-team honorees last season, while senior Brittany Vanderink was a second-team selection. Marder earned her award at catcher and she will also see innings at first base in 2008. Pruner was the league’s pick in right field, but she is expected to play first base this season if she returns from offseason surgery (see previous note). Vanderink returns at second base and was named the Buckeyes’ 2008 captain.

In addition, Marder was named first-team all-region by the NFCA, while Vanderink was a second-team choice.

Among returning Buckeyes who received postseason team awards is Marder, who became the first freshman to earn the team’s Offensive Player of the Year award. She was also named the Rookie of the Year, while pitcher Kim Reeder earned the Scholar-Athlete of the Year honor. Pruner was named the Most Improved Player and Whitney Cooper took home the Buckeye Spirit Award.

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