April 27, 2006

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COLUMBUS, Ohio – On the road in the Big Ten for the first time in four weeks, the Ohio State softball team travels to Iowa and Wisconsin this weekend for a pair of league series. The Buckeyes (34-17, 10-4 Big Ten) sit in third place in the conference, while Iowa (34-17, 9-5 Big Ten) is close on their heels in fourth place and Wisconsin (20-19, 4-8 Big Ten) is seeking a late-season surge to qualify for a spot in the Big Ten tournament.

Single games in Iowa City will be played at 6 p.m. (CDT) Friday and noon Saturday, while the doubleheader at Wisconsin Sunday begins at noon (CDT). GameTracker will have the Iowa games live at, while the Wisconsin games can be heard live at (click on the multimedia link on the softball page).

The Buckeyes are 9-6 on the road this season, which includes wins at then-No. 6 Alabama (now No. 4) and sweeps at Loyola Marymount and Long Beach State (see later note). In the Big Ten, Ohio State split series at both Indiana (March 31-April 1) and Purdue (April 2) in its only conference road games thus far.

Ohio State hosts Oakland next Wed. in its last home games of the regular season before traveling to Penn State May 6-7 to wrap up Big Ten play. The league tournament will be hosted May 11-13 by the conference’s regular season champion.

Ohio State is 18-4 in its last 22 games (.818) and is hitting .330 in April, up from .278 in February (6-8) and .216 in March (10-5). In Big Ten games only, the Buckeyes’ .311 average is the best in the conference, as its .283 average in all games.

Coming off a stretch of games that included 18 of 19 games at home, OSU is 19-2 at Buckeye Field, with its only two losses coming to then-No. 12 Michigan last Sat. At home, OSU is batting .344 with 15 home runs and over six runs per game, while OSU pitchers own a 1.66 ERA and a .220 opponents’ average.

Ohio State’s offensive leaders include Megan Schwab (.342, 4 HR, 25 RBI), Brittany Vanderink (.308, team-best .435 Big Ten average), Billie Carder (.295, 31 RBI), Nycole Koyano (.281, league-best 24 stolen bases) and Courtney Pruner (.254, 7 HR).

The pitching staff includes Jamee Juarez (15-9, 2.60 ERA), Kim Reeder (14-7, 1.78 ERA) and Pruner (5-1, 2.95 ERA). Juarez threw her 17th career shutout Sun. in OSU’s 4-0 win over Michigan State.

OSU returns 11 letterwinners and welcomes four newcomers in 2006 for head coach Linda Kalafatis, who is in her tenth season. The Buckeyes were 32-17 overall in 2005 and finished fourth in the Big Ten with a 9-7 league mark. OSU ranked among the NCAA’s Top 13 in six categories, including scoring (8th, 5.8 runs/game).

No. 14 Northwestern, which lost twice at Ohio State April 9, remains atop the Big Ten standings with an 11-2 league mark, while No. 13 Michigan is 9-3, Ohio State is 10-4 and Iowa is 9-5. The Wildcats and Wolverines meet Sunday in Ann Arbor.

Northwestern and Michigan were the only two Big Ten teams that did not play midweek this week. This weekend, Ohio State and Penn State are at Iowa and Wisconsin, Illinois and Northwestern are at Michigan State and Michigan, and Indiana and Purdue are at Minnesota.

Ohio State’s 9-6 road record can be attributed in large part to its 1.76 team ERA on opponents’ home fields, which is nearly as good as the Buckeyes’ 1.66 ERA in home games, where they are 19-2. Among the team’s best performers in road games are Megan Schwab (.348) and Kim Reeder (6-1, 0.96 ERA).

Among Ohio State’s road wins this spring is a 3-1 victory at then-No. 6 Alabama (now No. 4) March 3. The Crimson Tide are now 24-4 at home this season and lead the Southeastern Conference with a 40-7 record overall. The win was OSU’s first over a Top 10 team since March 1-2, 2003, and ended Alabama’s 16-game home winning streak.

Other wins include at Stetson (37-13), Loyola Marymount (25-17), Long Beach State (23-18) and New Mexico State (24-18).

Ohio State head coach Linda Kalafatis won her 600th career game Sunday in game-two of Ohio State’s sweep of Michigan State. She is one of three Big Ten coaches with at least 600 wins (602-341-2, .637) and she is already OSU’s all-time wins leader with 329 wins (329-226-0, .591). Kalafatis has guided the Buckeyes to two of their three NCAA tournament appearances and to six of the program’s 10 30-win seasons.

Ohio State senior Chelsea Baker and juniors Lauren Daykin and Christina Douglas have been nominated for Academic All-America honors, sponsored by ESPN The Magazine and CoSIDA (College Sports Information Directors of America). An all-district squad will be announced in early May, with the first-team recipients being placed on a national ballot. All three Buckeyes have a grade point average over 3.2.

Ohio State’s sweep of Michigan State Sun. and Wright State Wed. brought its home win total to 19 games this season at Buckeye Field, the sixth-highest figure since the facility opened in 1988. OSU’s 25 wins at home in 2001 are the school record. The Buckeyes’ sweep of the Spartans (13-4 and 4-0) was their first since 2002, while wins over the Raiders Wed. (10-2 and 3-2) upped OSU’s record to 11-0 in non-conference home games this spring and to 94-10 in that department under 10th-year head coach Linda Kalafatis.

Ohio State assistant coach Ali Viola was an assistant at Wisconsin from 2000-02. Iowa head coach Gayle Blevins is from Dayton, Ohio, and is a graduate of the University of Dayton. OSU sophomore Liz Caputo and Iowa freshman Brittany Weil were teammates in club softball for Gordon’s Panthers. Four Buckeyes and four Badgers are from the Los Angeles area, including OSU’s Stacy Hibma (Buena Park), Jamee Juarez (La Puente), Nycole Koyano (Walnut) and Caputo (Riverside) along with Wisconsin’s Kaitlin Reiss (Simi Valley), Athena Vasquez (Costa Mesa), Alexis Garcia (North Hollywood) and Valyncia Raphael (La Habra).

Ohio State is 31-55 all-time against Iowa but owns a 3-3 record at Bob Pearl Field (opened in 2000). The Hawkeyes beat OSU three times last year, including twice in Columbus (4-1, 6-2) and once at the Buzz Classic (3-0). The Buckeyes took two of three from Iowa in 2004, including a split in Iowa City (5-3, 0-4) and a 5-1 win in the Big Ten tournament.

Year Location Winner Scores 2005 Columbus Iowa 4-1, 6-2 2005 Marietta, Ga. Iowa 3-0 2004 Ann Arbor OSU 5-1 2004 Iowa City split 5-3, 0-4 2003 Columbus Iowa 7-0, 3-0

Ohio State is 11-16 all-time against Wisconsin, which includes a 1-8 record at the Goodman Softball Complex that opened in 1999. The Badgers took three games from OSU last year, including twice in Madison (2-1, 9-7) and in the Ann Arbor in the Big Ten tournament (6-1). Wisconsin owns a five game winning streak over the Buckeyes in Madison.

Year Location Winner Scores 2005 Ann Arbor Wisconsin 6-1 2005 Madison Wisconsin 2-1, 9-7 2004 Columbus split 2-0, 1-3 2003 Madison Wisconsin 5-4, 6-0

Only once in the last 17 years has Iowa not finished among the Top 3 in the Big Ten regular-season standings, but the Hawkeyes (34-17, 9-5 Big Ten) are currently sitting in fourth place in the league standings. Iowa was 50-14 last year, falling to Washington in the NCAA regionals, and began the 2006 campaign ranked No. 19 in the preseason poll. With 11 returning letterwinners, the Hawkeyes climbed to as high as No. 15 (Feb. 14), but are now out of the polls, though Iowa enters this weekend with a 14-2 record at home. In Big Ten games only, Iowa ranks fifth in the league in hitting (.262), sixth in pitching (2.88 ERA) and third in fielding (.979). Emily Nichols leads the Hawkeyes in average (.347), doubles (14), home runs (5, tie) and RBI (32). Mindy Heidgerken (.308, 24 RBI) was a first-team All-Big Ten outfielder last year. Freshman pitcher Brittany Weil (23-11, 2.39 ERA) leads the Big Ten in wins (23) and innings pitched (231.0). Senior shortstop Stacy May (.327, 5 HR) was a second-round draft pick of the Chicago Bandits in the National Pro Fastpitch League Draft in February.

Wisconsin (20-19, 4-8 Big Ten) returns 15 letterwinners from its 2005 squad that went 31-24 (11-9, fifth in Big Ten) and was selected to host an NCAA regional tournament. The Badgers, who host Penn State Fri. and Sat., have a seven-game homestand to end the regular season. Sophomore catcher Joey Daniels (.304 overall, .323 in Big Ten games) had an eight-game hitting streak halted Wed. and has thrown out 16 would-be base stealers this season. Sophomore Katie Hnatyk (.293, 9 HR, 32 RBI), a third-team All-Big Ten pick last year at utility, already owns 18 career home runs, third-most in Wisconsin history. Junior pitcher Eden Brock (16-10, 3.25) became just the second Badger pitcher to win 20 games in a season last year when she went 20-11, including a 10-game winning streak.

Ohio State has had at least six hits in its last eight games, its longest streak of the season. Ohio State has led after four innings in 29 games this season and has won all them except one, that coming in game-one vs. Michigan last Saturday. OSU led 1-0 after four innings but lost 3-2. When taking a lead into the seventh inning, the Buckeyes are 22-0. When scoring at least three runs, Ohio State is 28-4.

Megan Schwab (.400 in last six games) has two hits in three of her last five games to give her a team-leading 14 multiple-hit games this season. Billie Carder (.405 in last 13 games) is next with 13 and Nycole Koyano and Brittany Vanderink have 11 with four of those coming in her last six games. Koyano is hitting .415 in her last 12 games and Vanderink enters this weekend with a career best six game hitting streak, during which time she is hitting .500 (11-for-22).

April 19 at Miami Courtney Pruner (.406 in last 12 games) became the third OSU freshman since 1997 to hit two home runs in a game. The other two were eventual OSU all-time home run leader Kristine Himes vs. UNC-Greensboro in 2000 and Liz Caputo vs. Long Island last year. Pruner’s eight multiple-RBI games are best on the team.

Among the other Buckeyes hot at the plate as of late are Christina Douglas (.448 in last 10 games) and Jamee Juarez (.406 in last 11 games). April 18 vs. IUPUI, for the first time since junior Jamee Juarez arrived at Ohio State, the Buckeyes swept a doubleheader without Juarez throwing a pitch. In fact it was just the third time OSU won twice on the same day without Juarez getting the win in either game. The other two occasions were March 12, 2004, in wins over Winthrop and North Carolina A&T and three weeks ago when Pruner had both wins, including one in relief of Juarez, in the sweep of then-No. 15 Northwestern April 9.

Chelsea Baker’s walk-off home run against Northwestern April 9 was the first for a Buckeye since April 21, 2002, when Chrissy Fowler’s solo blast beat Illinois 6-5 at Buckeye Field in a game that Ohio State trailed 5-0.

See page 4 of this complete release for player bios.

In Big Ten statistics as of April 27, Ohio State ranked first in the Big Ten in batting (.283 avg.), fifth in pitching (2.29 ERA) and 10th in fielding (.957 pct.). OSU’s 14 triples are most in the league and it ranks second in runs scored (234) and stolen bases (68). In Big Ten games only, the Buckeyes rank first in batting (.311), fourth in pitching (2.33) and sixth in fielding (.966).

Individually, Megan Schwab ranked ninth in batting average (.342) and ninth in on-base percentage (.433). Nycole Koyano ranked first in stolen bases (24), fifth in runs (34) and sixth in walks (24). Courtney Pruner ranked first in triples (4) and Billie Carder tied for second (3). Among Big Ten pitchers, Kim Reeder ranked 10th in ERA (1.78) and ninth in strikeouts (133). Jamee Juarez ranked ninth in innings pitched (158.1), seventh in strikeouts (166), third in games started (25) and 10th in wins (15).

In Big Ten games only, the Buckeyes have three of the top 10 averages, including Brittany Vanderink (3rd, .435), Schwab (9th, .378) and Carder (10th, .375).

Ohio State head coach Linda Kalafatis is in her 10th season at the helm of the Buckeyes’ softball program in 2006. She is already OSU’s all-time wins leader with 327 victories in Columbus (329-226-0, .591), and her overall record stands at 602-341-2 (.637) in 18 years as a collegiate head coach. She is assisted by former Buckeyes Belinda Quisenberry and Kristi DeVries and former Nebraska All-American Ali Viola.

### GO BUCKS! ###