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NOTE: Check OhioStateBuckeyes.com for any weather-related delays or cancellations this weekend at the Buckeye Invitational.

 

No. 21 Ohio State hosts the Buckeye Invitational
March 21-23, 2008
Buckeye Field – Columbus, Ohio

SCHEDULE
Friday
1 p.m. Bowling Green vs. Robert Morris
3 p.m. Ohio State vs. Robert Morris
5 p.m. Ohio State vs. Eastern Michigan

Saturday
11 a.m. Eastern Michigan vs. Binghamton
1 p.m. Eastern Michigan vs. Robert Morris
3 p.m. Ohio State vs. Bowling Green
5 p.m. Binghamton vs. Bowling Green

Sunday
11 a.m. Robert Morris vs. Binghamton
1 p.m. Ohio State vs. Binghamton
3 p.m. Bowling Green vs. Eastern Michigan

 

IF YOU GO
All games of the Buckeye Invitational will be played at Buckeye Field on the Ohio State campus. Saturday, fans are asked to park at the Woody Hayes Athletic Center, entering from Olentangy River Road, because of Smucker’s Stars on Ice at the Jerome Schottenstein Center. Admission is free. For directions log onto www.OhioStateBuckeyes.com.

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

FIVE WARM-UP PITCHES
1. The Buckeyes’ 19-6 record is the program’s second-best record after 25 games (20-5 in 2002).  
2. Ohio State is ranked No. 21 in the NFCA USA Today poll and is No. 26 in the USA Softball ESPN.com poll. 
3. The Buckeyes are batting a Big Ten-best .301 as a team compared to .225 by their opponents. OSU pitchers own a 1.75 ERA, while opposing pitchers have a 3.45 ERA.
4. In Ohio State’s regular batting order, only three returning starters are back this season (lead-off batter Brittany Vanderink, No. 3 hitter Sam Marder and No. 8 hitter Liz Caputo.
5. In June, a $5.9 million renovation project will begin at Buckeye Field, which opened in 1988.

SETTING THE SCENE
COLUMBUS, Ohio –
In its 2008 home opener, the No. 19 Ohio State softball team (19-6) hosts the Buckeye Invitational this weekend at Buckeye Field. The five-team, 10-game event will begin at 1 p.m. Friday and includes Binghamton, Bowling Green, Eastern Michigan, Ohio State and Robert Morris.

A scheduled doubleheader Wednesday against Houston was rained out, but the Buckeye Invitational still marks the beginning of 14-consecutive home games on the Ohio State schedule after the Buckeyes played their first 25 games out of state.

The Buckeyes are 42-4 at home the last two seasons (21-2 in 2006 and 2007) and are 181-26 (.874) all-time there in non-league games. Ohio State is 21-3 at home when ranked in the Top 25.

The Buckeyes are coming off a 3-2 record at the Capital Classic in Sacramento, Calif., last weekend, which marked the fifth and final of their early-season tournaments on the road.

FOLLOW THE BUCKEYES ONLINE
Live statistics for all games of the Buckeye Invitational will be available at www.OhioStateBuckeyes.com.

ABOUT THE BUCKEYE INVITATIONAL
The 10 games of the Buckeye Invitational are preset and there will not be a championship bracket. Best record in the tournament will determine the champion and, if needed, a tie-breaker system will be used to determine order of finish.

Ohio State is 42-1 all-time in the Buckeye Invitational, with the lone loss coming to Ball State in 1989. The Buckeyes have won 36 in a row in their early season tournament.

Ohio State went 21-2 at Buckeye Field last year and is 96-10 in non-conference home games under 11th-year head coach Linda Kalafatis.

19-6 IS SECOND-BEST START
Ohio State’s 19-6 record is the second-best 25-game start in program history. The 2002 Buckeyes were 20-5 after 25 games and went on post a 55-14 overall record.

BUCKEYES RANKED No. 21
This week in the national polls, Ohio State is ranked No. 21 in the USA Today/NFCA poll and No. 26 in the ESPN.com/USA Softball poll.

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 65-32 all-time when ranked.

A GLANCE AT THE GUESTS
Binghamton, located in Vestal, N.Y., brings a 2-13 overall record to Columbus. The Bearcats went 0-6 at the College of Charleston Tournament last weekend but four of those losses were by only one run and two of them went into extra-innings. Offensive leaders include Sandy Meadows (.317, 2 3B, 7-7 SB), Shannon McLeese (.314) and Deannie Plemon (.311, 11 RBI).

A two-hour drive from the Ohio State campus, Bowling Green is 0-14 overall, but only six of those losses have been by more than two runs. Dawnjene DeLong leads the Falcons at the plate with a .381 average, while Allison Vallas is batting .372 with two homers.

Eastern Michigan is 6-11 overall and has played its last 12 games in California. The Eagles, who hail from Ypsilanti, Mich., just southeast of Ann Arbor, are coming off Mid-American Conference title and trip to the NCAA tournament. Jenny Scherer leads EMU with a .347 average, seven extra-base hits and 10 RBI.

Robert Morris is 7-7 with wins in five of its last six games. The Moon Township, Pa., school is located 15 minutes northwest of downtown Pittsburgh. The Colonials are led by Brenna Reed, who is batting .333. Lindsey Moates is 4-3 in the circle with a 2.78 ERA, while Reed is 3-4 with a 2.55 ERA and 37 strikeouts.

OHIO STATE AT A GLANCE
Despite the fact the Buckeyes have only three field starters and one starting pitcher back from their 2007 Big Ten champion team, they are 19-6 overall, which is the program’s second-best record after 25 games (2002, 20-5).

Ohio State is batting .301 overall, which leads the Big Ten, and opponents are batting only .225. The Buckeyes own 32 extra-base hits (opponents have 24) and are out-scoring their opponents 18-6 in the first inning and 53-19 in the first three innings combined.

OSU pitchers own a 1.75 staff ERA and have struck out 141 batters in 171.2 innings. The Buckeyes have thrown 15 complete games in 25 starts.

Ohio State owns two six-game winning streaks this season. The first came to begin the season and the second came March 7-14.

Leading the Buckeyes at the plate is a pair of 2007 first-team All-Big Ten selections, including sophomore Sam Marder (.468, 8 HR, 35 RBI) and senior Brittany Vanderink (.440, 28 R, 12-13 SB). In the circle are junior Kim Reeder (10-4, 0.97 ERA) and sophomores Lindsay Bodeker (4-1, 1.29 ERA) and Megan Miller (5-1, 3.44 ERA).

Ohio State has 11 letterwinners back from its 2007 squad that went 40-18 and 14-2 in the Big Ten, winning both the league’s regular-season and conference championships. Only three starters from that team are back in the OSU batting lineup this season, however, and Reeder is the lone starting pitcher back.

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).

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 GO 3-2 IN SACRAMENTO
Ohio State is coming off a 3-2 record last weekend at the Capital Classic hosted by Sacramento State. The Buckeyes hit .295 as a team with seven extra-base hits (two home runs), while their opponents hit .268 with nine extra-base hits (five homers). It marked the most successful weekend by opposing batters against OSU pitching so far this season.

For the second-consecutive tournament, freshman Dee Dee Hillman led Ohio State at the plate with a team-high .467 average (7-for-15). In the circle, junior Kim Reeder went 2-1 with a 1.24 ERA in 22.2 innings.

Ohio State Leaders in Sacramento
Dee Dee Hillman –  .467 (7-15), 4 R
Sam Marder –  .438 (7-16), 1 HR, 4 RBI
Brittany Vanderink –  .381 (8-21), 4 R, 1 3B
Kim Reeder –   2-1, 1.24 ERA, 22.2 IP, 25 K

OHIO STATE AT BUCKEYE FIELD
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. At 16-0, Ohio State registered its first ever perfect regular season at home and the home winning streak reached a program-record 27 in a row overall dating back to mid-April 2006.

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.

Three attendance records were set at Buckeye Field in May, including single-game crowd (695 vs. Penn State, May 6) and single day crowd (1,175 May 18, two games). In addition, the two games vs. Cal State Fullerton drew May 20 drew 822 fans, for a same-opponent, two-game crowd (non-doubleheader).

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

Ohio State is 107-12 (.899) in nonconference games at Buckeye Field since 12th-year head coach Linda Kalafatis took over the program in 1997. The Buckeyes have won 30-consecutive regular-season nonconference home games in a streak that dates back to April 21, 2004 when Kentucky nipped Ohio State, 4-3.

Ohio State is 315-123 (.719) all-time at Buckeye Field since the facility opened in 1988. That mark includes a 124-97 (.561) record in Big Ten games and a 181-26 (.874) record in non-league games.

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.

OSU, OPPONENTS CONNECTIONS…
Ohio State sophomores Leah Ledford and Lindsay Bodeker and freshman Rachael Shepherd were travel ball teammates with Bowling Green senior Dawnjene DeLong. Those three Buckeyes were teammates at Lakota West High School, while DeLong when to Hamilton. BGSU freshmen Zada Lines and Rachel Delp, who is from Watterson High School in Columbus, played travel ball with OSU freshmen Dee Dee Hillman and Kady Caughenbaugh.

Ohio State junior pitcher Kim Reeder was a teammate at Notre Dame High School in Salinas, Calif., with Binghamton junior pitcher Jessica Whitaker.
Binghamton freshman Emily Phillips is from nearby Pickerington, Ohio (North H.S.).

Ohio State head coach Linda Kalafatis is from Bethel Park, Pa., which is about 20 miles from the Robert Morris campus in Moon Township.

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 (393-256, .606) and is one of three Big Ten coaches with more than 650 career wins (666-371-2, .642).

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).

MARDER NAMED TO PLAYER OF THE YEAR WATCH LIST
Ohio State sophomore Sam Marder was named to the Amateur Softball Association’s watch list for the Collegiate Player of the Year Jan. 31. Marder is one of only nine sophomores on the list. A list of 25 finalists will be announced by the ASA April 9. The list includes only five from the Big Ten, with three of those being sophomores.

Predominantly a catcher, Marder leads the Buckeyes with a .468 average, five doubles, eight home runs, 35 runs batted in, 13 walks, a .844 slugging percentage and a .532 on base percentage. Her RBI total leads the Big Ten.

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.

OH CAPTAIN, MY CAPTAIN
Senior captain Brittany Vanderink has hit safely in 23 of Ohio State’s 25 games this season and owns multiple hits in 13 of those games. A .440 hitter this season and .355 career hitter, she is 12-for-13 this season in stolen bases and leads the team with a .568 average with runners on base, a .548 average with runners in scoring position and a .735 success rate advancing runners.

A two-time first-team All-Big Ten selection, Vanderink is a career 58-for-62 base stealer and she ups her career batting average to .411 in Big Ten games.

SHORT HOPS…
The Buckeyes are 17-1 this season when leading or tied after four innings. Ohio State is 15-3 when scoring first.

The Buckeyes were shut out by Cal’s Marissa Drewery March 15 in Sacramento, Calif., to snap their school-record 58-game scoring streak. Ohio State had not been shut out since March 11, 2007 by Virginia Tech All-American Angela Tincher in Clearwater, Fla.

In the Buckeyes’ 16-4 win at Florida International Feb. 16, they broke the school record for runs on an opponent’s home field. The previous record was 14 runs at Wright State in a 14-2 win April 19, 2005. The 16-run outburst is six runs more than ever scored on a “southern” school’s home field, topping the 10 runs scored in an 11-10 loss at Loyola Marymount March 24, 2005.

The 2007 Buckeyes tied the school record for walks in a season (176) and set the school record for walks per game in a season (3.03).

IN THE CAREER RECORD BOOK
Senior Brittany Vanderink ranks fourth all-time at Ohio State in stolen bases (58), fourth in career batting average (.355), tied for fourth in triples (11) and sixth in runs scored (116). On the OSU career home run list, sophomore Sam Marder is tied for fourth with 18 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 (43), fourth in strikeouts (367) and eighth in innings pitched (435.2).

NEW FACES IN THE OSU LINEUP
Senior Brittany Vanderink and sophomore Sam Marder have started all 25 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.

The 2008 Ohio State roster includes 13 freshman and sophomores. There are three juniors and two seniors.

THE BUCKEYES AT NIGHT
Ohio State is 4-0 at night this season, with three of those wins coming on the home theirof their opponent. Sophomore Sam Marder leads the offense in night games with a .643 average (9-14), two home runs and nine RBI, while senior Brittany Vanderink is batting .538 (7-13). Junior Kim Reeder and sophomore Megan Miller are both 2-0 with an ERA under 1.90 at night this season.

The Buckeyes went 9-3 in night games last season, including 4-0 at home, 1-1 on the road (at UAB, Kim Reeder no-hitter, loss at Akron) and 4-2 at neutral sites. Three of the night wins at home were in the postseason, including wins over Penn State and Purdue in the Big Ten tournament and Cal State Fullerton in the NCAA Regionals. The other home night win was April 18 when Jamee Juarez perfect game against IUPUI. Marder batted .423 (11-26) with two homers and 13 RBI in those 12 night games to rank second on the team to Courtney Pruner. In the circle, junior Kim Reeder was 3-0 with a 1.47 ERA.

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.

BUCKEYES WIN BIG IN VEGAS
Ohio State was a perfect 5-0 record at the UNLV Invitational in Las Vegas March 7-9. The Buckeyes beat Oregon 7-0, UNLV 2-1, New Mexico State 3-1, Portland State 4-2 and UNLV again, 5-1.

UNLV was 13-3-1 at home this season before suffering two losses to Ohio State.

For the second-consecutive tournament, a freshman led the Buckeyes in batting as Dee Dee Hillman posted a team-high .419 average (5-for-12). In the circle, junior Kim Reeder went 3-0 with two saves and a 0.59 ERA in 23.2 innings.

MARDER, REEDER EARN BIG TEN’S FIRST WEEKLY AWARDS
The Buckeyes swept the Big Ten’s first weekly awards Tuesday as Kim Reeder was named the pitcher of the week and Sam Marder was named the player of the week. In leading Ohio State to a perfect 5-0 record at the Stetson Lead-Off Classic last weekend, Reeder went 2-0 with a 0.56 earned run average and Marder batted .462 with a home run and eight runs batted in.

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.

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.

THE DEFENDING BIG TEN CHAMPIONS
Ohio State went 14-2 in the Big Ten last season to win its second conference championship and first since 1990. The Buckeyes, who went 10-0 at home in league games and 4-2 on the road, had to sweep Penn State in the regular-season finale to hold off Northwestern for the title and the Buckeyes did just that, winning 4-2 and 4-0. Both games were dramatic, as the Nittany Lions scored twice in the top of the seventh inning Saturday in a comeback bid and the Buckeyes scored all four of their runs Sunday as the visiting team in the top of the seventh inning.

A 2-1 walk-off win over sixth-ranked Northwestern May 12 at Buckeye Field gave Ohio State its first Big Ten tournament title and first automatic bid to the NCAA tournament. In the bottom of the seventh, senior Megan Schwab singled to center, stole second, went to third on an infield single by junior Liz Caputo and scored when senior Nycole Koyano grounded to third and Darcy Sengewald’s throw was wild, allowing Schwab to score.

The tournament championship game was televised live on CSTV, marking Ohio State’s first game on national television. With the win, Northwestern became the highest-ranked opponent ever to lose at Buckeye Field.

In a 10-2 quarterfinal win over Penn State and a 10-1 semifinal win over Purdue, the Buckeyes established and then tied a team record for runs scored in a Big Ten tournament game. The previous Big Ten tournament scoring high was nine runs in a quarterfinal win over Penn State in 2006 at Northwestern.

The Buckeyes are the third team to win the Big Ten regular-season and tournament championships, joining Michigan (six double titles) and Iowa (one).

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