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COLUMBUS, Ohio A week off from competition does not mean the Ohio State softball is taking things easy this week in chilly Columbus. In fact, that would be far from the truth.

The Buckeyes returned home late Sunday night after going 3-2 at the Palm Springs Classic last weekend and had Monday and Tuesday off, but the team returned to practice Wednesday inside at the Woody Hayes Athletic Center. After three-consecutive weeks on the road, it marks a chance for the Buckeyes to get back to fundamentals according to head coach Linda Kalafatis.

“We basically picked three things we want to focus on until we play again and we have expressed those to the team,” Kalafatis said. “We’ll use the extra days of practice to work on them. We would feel a whole lot better coming off a 4-1 record at Palm Springs, so our focus continues to be on getting better and working on the things we have control over.”

Click on the audio link above to listen to the complete seven minute interview with Kalafatis Thursday.

BODEKER WILL RETURN TO THE CIRCLE SOON
Ohio State sophomore pitcher Lindsay Bodeker was helped from the field last Sunday against Fordham after a nagging knee injury turned into a sudden and potential season-ending injury. She was examined by Ohio State’s Dr. Jim Borchers Monday and had an MRI Tuesday. Borchers read the results Wednesday and was able to give good news to Bodeker and the Buckeyes.

“The test results showed less damage than there could have been,” Kalafatis said. “Lindsay has already begun rehabilitation and should rejoin the team soon.”

Bodeker, who will be listed as questionable for the UNLV Invitational, will undergo rehab at the Woody Hayes Athletic Center under the direction of the team’s athletic trainer, Sam Laingen.

“My recovery is week to week and I’m working hard with our trainer to recover so I can get back to my team and help them continue to grow and win,” Bodeker said Thursday.

Ohio State, which graduated five senior starters from its 2007 team that went 40-18 and won the Big Ten, is already without one returning starter in All-Big Ten selection Courtney Pruner, who will miss the 2008 season because off two offseason hip surgeries.

BIG NUMBERS IN THE BIG TEN…
The Big Ten has released its first statistics report and the Buckeyes are once again among the league leaders in several categories. Offensively, Ohio State leads the Big Ten in runs scored (89), hits (139) and ranks second in batting average (.320). Ohio State pitchers rank second in strikeouts (116) and third ERA (1.45).

Individually, senior Brittany Vanderink leads the conference in hits (27), runs (18) and stolen bases (7-7) and ranks fourth in average (.491). Sophomore Sam Marder ranks first in runs batted in (25), is tied for first in home runs (five) and total bases (42), is tied for second in hits (23) and ranks third in batting average (.511). Sophomore Lindsay Bodeker  is tied for first in shutouts (3) and ranks 10th in strikeouts (38), while junior Kim Reeder is tied for sixth in wins (5) and is tied for fifth in inning pitched (47.0). The two are tied for sixth in complete games (4).

BUCKEYES RANKED No. 20/21 IN NATIONAL POLLS THIS WEEK
The Buckeyes are ranked No. 20 by the NFCA and No. 21 by USA Softball this week, marking the fourth-consecutive week Ohio State appears in the national polls. That is the longest stretch of consecutive weeks the Buckeyes have been nationally ranked since they were ranked for eight-straight weeks in 2003.

GOODCHILD SETS THE MARK IN PALM SPRINGS
Freshman Brittany Goodchild led the Buckeyes in Palm Springs last weekend with a .529 average from a 9-for-17 performance at the plate. In Ohio State’s four trips to the Classic, it marked the first time a Buckeye batted over .500 during the tournament. Previously, Courtney Pruner’s .444 average (4-9) was Ohio State’s best effort at the plate in Palm Springs.

Junior Kim Reeder went 2-2 in the circle during the weekend with a 1.33 ERA and 12 strikeouts in 21.0 innings pitched. She owns four of Ohio State’s six wins in Palm Springs the last two years and in her three-year career owns 49 strikeouts there in 50.1 innings.

MORE NOTES FROM PALM SPRINGS
Ohio State cranked out 46 hits last weekend in Palm Springs, which are the most in the four years the Buckeyes have participated in the Classic. The previous team-high hit total in Palm Springs was 39 last year. The Buckeyes had 30 hits in 2005 and 23 in 2006.

The Buckeyes had 15 hits in each of their last two games in Palm Springs (vs. Oregon State and Fordham). Previously, Ohio State had never posted more than 12 hits in a game in Palm Springs. It marked the first that the Buckeyes collected 15 or more hits in back-to-back games since 2005 when they had 15 hits in the second game of a doubleheader against Illinois April 17 and 16 hits in their next game at Wright State April 19. Among available records, it marked the first time Ohio State had ever notched back-to-back 15-hit games with neither of them being a home game.

Of note, all 30 of those hits vs. Oregon State and Fordham were singles.

A LOOK AHEAD TO THE UNLV INVITATIONAL
Next week Ohio State will make its second trip to Las Vegas and first since 1991. Like this season, the trip will follow an OSU Big Ten championship, but the Buckeyes hope 2008 yields better results in Vegas, as they went 0-5 there in 1991.

Here is a look at the Ohio State’s four opponents next week in Las Vegas…
 
– Oregon (9-7) … coming off a 4-2 record at the Palm Springs Classic that included a 1-0 win over No. 9 Oklahoma … went 44-19 overall last season and 7-14 Pac-10 (7th) … went 2-2 at NCAA Regionals … all-time series: Ohio State leads 5-2, with the last meeting coming in 2006 in Palm Springs, a 6-0 OSU win.

– UNLV (10-6-1) … coming off a 1-5 record in Palm Springs that knocked them out of the Top 25 (was No. 18 last week) … has played all but six games at home this season (is 9-1-1 at home and 1-5-1 on the road) … Rebels host the Eller Media Stadium Classic this weekend and travel to UCLA next Wednesday before hosting the UNLV Invitational next weekend … went 37-27 overall last season and 12-8 in the Mountain West Conference (2nd) … all-time series: UNLV leads 2-0, with the last meeting coming in Palm Springs in 2006 (4-0)

– Portland State (3-16) … went 2-2 last weekend at the UC Santa Barbara Softball by the Beach Classic … plays this weekend at the Husky Softball Classic in Seattle … went 23-34 overall last season and 8-11 in the Pacific Coast Softball Conference (4th) … all-time series: Ohio State leads 3-0, with the last meeting coming in 2006 in Las Cruces, N.M. (7-6, 8 inn.)

– New Mexico State (8-8) … was a perfect 6-0 at home last weekend in the Troy Cox Invitational that included a win over Oklahoma State … is at the Hillenbrand Invitational this weekend in Tucson, Ariz. … went 31-27 overall last season and in the 9-9 Western Athletic Conference (3rd) … all-time series: tied 3-3, with the last meeting coming in the 2006 season-opener in Las Cruces, N.M., an 11-1 OSU win.

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Contact: Tim Stried, stried.3@osu.edu