Jan. 23, 2001

COLUMBUS, Ohio – The quest for the 2001 Big Ten Championship begins for the Ohio State baseball team. The Buckeyes have just five weeks of practice to prepare for the season opener against No. 4 Nebraska on Feb. 23.

Swisher Picked by Magazine
Sophomore first baseman Nick Swisher was Collegiate Baseball’s preseason Big Ten Player of the Year. Last year, Swisher won Big Ten Freshman of the Year and Freshman All-America honors.

A Quick Preview
Winning and baseball have become synonymous in the 13 years of head coach Bob Todd’s tenure. The 2001 season should prove to be no different. The Buckeyes return a dangerous blend of veterans and rookies – a blend that is so potent, it should mark a return to the national rankings and to the top of the Big Ten standings. 2000 All-Big Ten honorees E.J. Laratta and Cory Cox and Freshman All-American Nick Swisher headline this year’s team. A solid core of veterans also return. The group includes Chris Alvord (C), Mike Check (2B/CF), John Mayor (3B) and Trent McIlvain (SS). The pitching staff could be one of the biggest strengths of the team and one of the best in the Big Ten as all 11 pitchers from last year return. The entire starting rotation (Laratta, Kevin Goodrum, Greg Prenger and Brandon Steen), the stopper (Cox) and the setup men (Kevin Wynk and Kyle Brown) give the team plenty of reasons to feel good about their chances for the upcoming season.

The Newcomers
The Ohio State baseball team has welcomed 12 new members to the program (11 freshmen and one transfer). This group features a Major League Draft selection, two Ohio High School Players of the Year and seven all-state honorees.

“This is the one of the most talented and well-rounded recruiting classes we’ve brought to Ohio State in the last six to eight years,” head coach Bob Todd said. “This is a testament to the work of my staff to evaluate top quality kids and bring them to our program.

“On paper, we have some players that will make an impact right away. With the mix of veterans we have, our level of talent should be at the level we’ve become accustomed to here at Ohio State.”

Highlighting this year’s class are Christian Snavely (3B/OF), Matt Davis (RHP), Kyle Blachuta (RHP/3B) and Josh Newman (LHP). The transfer student is Mike Harris (IF) from the Citadel.

Last Year Review
The 2000 season marked the 13th consecutive winning season of Ohio State baseball. The 37-23 overall record also marked the 10th consecutive year of at least 35 wins or more for head coach Bob Todd and his Buckeyes. In his 13 years as the mentor, Todd has never had a losing season at Ohio State. As a team, the 2000 Buckeyes qualified for the Big Ten Baseball Tournament and advanced to the semifinal round. During the Spring, OSU won the Service Academies Classic in Millington, Tenn., and the Winthrop Classic in Rock Hill, S.C. The individual awards were plenty for the Buckeyes. Nick Swisher became the second consecutive Buckeye to take home Big Ten Freshman of the Year and Freshman All-America honors. Jason Turner took home All-Big Ten accolades after leading the Big Ten with 17 home runs. Three other Buckeyes took home All-Big Ten honors including stopper Cory Cox and starting pitcher E.J. Laratta.

The Schedule
The Buckeyes won’t have much time to get acclimated to the playing field as they open the 2001 season on Feb. 23 in Lafayette, La., at The Mardi Gras Ball. All three of OSU’s opponents are national powers and qualified for the NCAA Tournament last year – Nebraska, Wichita State and Louisiana-Lafayette. The Buckeyes will than travel to Jacksonville, Fla., for The Kennel Club Classic (March 2-4) and then play host to Detroit in a two-game series (March 9-10) at Bill Davis Stadium. The Buckeyes will then travel to Brandenton, Fla., for their Spring Break trip (March 16-25). OSU also will play host to four Big Ten Weekend Series in April and May.