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Buckeyes (21-6) host Hawkeyes Friday and Saturday before welcoming Fighting Illini to Buckeye Field for doubleheader Sunday on the Big Ten Network

No. 22 Ohio State vs. Iowa and Illinois
March 28-30, 2008
Buckeye Field, Columbus, Ohio

ALL-TIME SERIES
Iowa vs. Ohio State: Iowa leads 57-32 overall and 21-9 at Buckeye Field … Hawkeyes have won last eight meetings in Columbus.

Illinois vs. Ohio State: Ohio State leads 10-4 overall and 6-2 at Buckeye Field … Buckeyes have won last four meetings overall (two in Columbus, two in Champaign).

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 available at OhioStateBuckeyes.com.

FIVE WARM-UP PITCHES
1. Ohio State has won 24-consecutive home regular-season games since a loss to Michigan April 22, 2006.
2. The Buckeyes’ 21-6 record is the program’s second-best record after 27 games (22-5 in 2002). 
3. The Buckeyes are batting .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 –
Defending Big Ten softball champion Ohio State begins defense of its league title at Buckeye Field this weekend against Iowa and Illinois.

The 22nd-ranked Buckeyes (21-6) take on the Hawkeyes (18-10) at 6 p.m. Friday and noon Saturday before hosting the Fighting Illini (16-16) in a doubleheader at noon Sunday that will be televised by the Big Ten Network.

Ohio State posted a pair of one-run wins last Friday at home to kick-start a 14-game home stand. Wins over Eastern Michigan, 2-1, and Bowling Green, 3-2, were highlighted by game-winning RBIs from national RBI leader Sam Marder, who delivered a walk-off single in the bottom of the seventh and then a two-run home run in the top of the seventh.

The Buckeyes are 124-97 (.561) in Big Ten games at Buckeye Field and 23-3 overall at home when ranked.

LISTEN TO THE BUCKEYES ONLINE
Log on to www.OhioStateSports.net to listen to the Ohio State student radio station’s broadcast of all four games this weekend live from Buckeye Field. Josh Ellis, Joey D’Amico and Alex Kopilow will have the call.

In addition, live statistics for all four games this weekend will be available at www.OhioStateBuckeyes.com.

WELCOME BIG TEN NETWORK
In its first visit to Buckeye Field, the Big Ten Network will televise nationally both games of the Illinois doubleheader on tape delay Sunday night. Bill Rosinski will call the play by play and Leah Secondo will provide expert analysis. Log on to www.BigTenNetwork.com for the complete broadcast schedule.

The Big Ten Network will also televise Ohio State’s games at Purdue April 13 and Wisconsin April 25-26.

WHAT’S HAPPENING AT BUCKEYE FIELD
Saturday is Ohio Youth Softball Team Day at Buckeye Field and Ohio State will hold a postgame autograph session on the field. In addition, the first 250 fans will receive free Ohio State softball trading pins. Matt the Balloon Guy will give fans free balloon art prior to the game Saturday and Sunday.

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

A QUICK LOOK BACK
Ohio State went 10-0 in Big Ten games at Buckeye Field last year, including the last six league games at home en route to the conference title, but it was a 3-1 weekend on the road April 20-22 at Illinois and Iowa that kick-started the run. Ohio State swept the Illini in Champaign, 7-6 and 4-3, then split a doubleheader with the Hawkeyes in Iowa City, falling 7-3 before winning, 1-0. After the 7-3 loss at Iowa in the first game of the doubleheader, the Buckeyes went 6-0 in Big Ten games to wrap up title.

OHIO STATE AT BUCKEYE FIELD
Ohio State is 44-4 at home overall the last three seasons, with losses coming only to Michigan in the 2006 regular season and to Cal State Fullerton in the 2007 NCAA Tournament.

Ohio State is 2-0 at Buckeye Field this season and 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 last year 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.

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 109-12 (.901) in nonconference games at Buckeye Field since 12th-year head coach Linda Kalafatis took over the program in 1997. The Buckeyes have won 32-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 317-123 (.721) 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 183-26 (.876) record in non-league games.

BUCKEYES RANKED No. 22
This week in the national polls, Ohio State is ranked No. 22 in the USA Today/NFCA poll and No. 27 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 67-32 all-time when ranked.

MARDER LEADS NATION IN RBI
As of March 23, Ohio State sophomore Sam Marder leads the nation in runs batted in with 40. That total is 26 shy of the OSU single-season record. Marder, who was on the USA Softball Preseason Player of the Year Watch List, ranks third in the nation in batting average (.482), eighth in slugging percentage (.867), 10th in on base percentage (.549) and she is tied for 15th in home runs (9).

In the same national report, senior Brittany Vanderink ranked 31st in batting average (.423) and junior Kim Reeder ranked 27th in earned run average (0.98).
The complete report is available at www.NCAAsports.com.  

21-6 IS SECOND-BEST START
Ohio State’s 21-6 record is the second-best 27-game start in program history. The 2002 Buckeyes were 22-5 after 27 games and went on post a 55-14 overall record.

A GLANCE AT THE GUESTS
Iowa brings an 18-10 overall record to Columbus this weekend and plays at Penn State Sunday. After missing out on the NCAA tournament last season for only the second time in the past 13 years, Hawkeyes return eight starters include Colleen McGlaughlin (.338, 3 HR, 15 RBI), Rachel West (.418, 16-18 SB, 11 R) and Erin Riemersma (.282, 3 HR, 13 RBI). Junior Brittany Weil returns in the circle with an 11-8 record and 1.10 ERA in 2008.

Illinois is 14-16 overall and brings one of the most powerful offenses in the Big Ten to Buckeye Field. The Illini lead the conference in home runs (27), slugging percentage (.436), and doubles (42).  Offensive leaders include Daniel Zymkowitz (.350, 3 3B, 11-16 SB), Shanna Diller (.344, 4 HR, 17 RBI) and Angelena Mexicano (.304, 9 HR, 23 RBI), while senior Claire DeVreese is 10-10 in the circle with a 2.49 ERA.

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 21-6 overall, which is the program’s second-best record after 27 games (2002, 22-5).

Ohio State is batting .301 overall, which leads the Big Ten, and opponents are batting only .220. The Buckeyes own 33 extra-base hits (opponents have 27) and are out-scoring their opponents 18-7 in the first inning and 55-20 in the first three innings combined.

OSU pitchers own a 1.70 staff ERA and have struck out 153 batters in 185.2 innings. The Buckeyes have thrown 16 complete games in 27 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 (.482, 9 HR, 40 RBI) and senior Brittany Vanderink (.423, 29 R, 13-14 SB). In the circle are junior Kim Reeder (11-4, 0.98 ERA) and sophomores Lindsay Bodeker (5-1, 1.20 ERA) and Megan Miller (5-1, 3.27 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.

OSU, OPPONENTS CONNECTIONS…
Ohio State senior Liz Caputo played travel ball with Iowa junior pitcher Brittany Weil. OSU sophomore Sam Marder played on a Under-23 all-star team last summer with Weil.

OSU junior Kim Reeder played travel ball with Illinois senior Angelena Mexicano. Marder, sophomore Megan Miller and freshman Brittany Goodchild all played travel ball with Illinois freshman Danielle Zymkowitz.

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 (395-256, .606) and is one of three Big Ten coaches with more than 650 career wins (668-371-2, .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).

BUCKEYES IN THE BIG TEN
In Big Ten statistics as of March 24, Ohio State ranked first in batting average (.301), fourth in team earned run average (1.70) and 11th in fielding (.940).  The Buckeyes also lead the Big Ten in scoring, both overall (138 runs) and per game (5.1).

Senior Brittany Vanderink leads the Big Ten in hits (40) and runs (29) and ranks second in stolen bases (13) and third in batting average (.423). Sophomore Sam Marder ranks first in runs batted in (40) and slugging percentage (.867), is tied for first in home runs (9) and ranks second in batting average (.482) and on base percentage (.549).

Junior Kim Reeder ranks fourth in ERA (0.98) and is tied for second in wins (11).

In Big Ten games last season, Ohio State led the league in batting (.319, ranked third overall – .292) and fielding (.973, ranked ninth overall – .956) and was third in pitching (2.50, ranked fifth overall – 2.37). In all games, Marder led the Big Ten in walks (44) and on base percentage (.520).

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 .482 average, five doubles, nine home runs, 40 runs batted in, 15 walks, a .867 slugging percentage and a .549 on base percentage. She drove in all five OSU runs last Friday in the Buckeyes’ two wins and her RBI total leads the nation.

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 24 of Ohio State’s 27 games this season and owns multiple hits in 13 of those games. A .423 hitter this season and .353 career hitter, she is 13-for-14 this season in stolen bases and leads the team with a .543 average with runners on base, a .515 average with runners in scoring position and a .731 success rate advancing runners.
A two-time first-team All-Big Ten selection, Vanderink is a career 59-for-63 base stealer and she ups her career batting average to .411 in Big Ten games.

SHORT HOPS…
The Buckeyes are 18-1 this season when leading or tied after four innings. Ohio State is 16-3 when scoring first.

Junior Kim Reeder has thrown complete games in her last seven starts. That is the most consecutive complete games since Katie Chain threw 10-straight complete games in 2001.

Ohio State pitchers threw complete games in their first five outings this season, marking the most consecutive complete games since the Buckeyes threw eight-straight complete games in 2003.

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 (59), fourth in career batting average (.353), tied for fourth in triples (11) and sixth in runs scored (117). On the OSU career home run list, sophomore Sam Marder is fourth with 19 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 (44), fourth in strikeouts (374) and eighth in innings pitched (442.2).

NEW FACES IN THE OSU LINEUP
Senior Brittany Vanderink and sophomore Sam Marder have started all 27 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 their of 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 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.

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.

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).

A TOP PROGRAM ADDS MORE
Since 2000, the Buckeyes have won 322 games, which is the third-highest win total in the Big Ten during that time. Ohio State’s .647 winning percentage and average win total of 37.6 games rank fourth in the Big Ten this decade.

The 2007 Buckeyes were the fourth team in Ohio State softball history to win at least 40 games in a season, joining teams in 1994, 2001 and 2002. Combined with 39 wins in 2006, Ohio State’s win total of 79 during the 2006 and 2007 ranks third all-time in the program among back-to-back year win totals.

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