COLUMBUS, OhioLinda Kalafatis, Ohio State softball head coach, announced Monday the addition of five standout student-athletes who will join the 2011-12 squad. Caitlin Conrad and Alex DiDomenico of Ohio, as well as Shelby Pickett and Maddy McIntyre of California and Taylor Watkins of Washington have signed NCAA National Letters of Intent to play for the Buckeyes in the 2012 season.

“The 2011 recruiting class is very diverse; we have a pitcher, a catcher, an infielder and two outfielders,” Kalafatis, who enters her 15th season, said. “We have kids from three different states including two from Ohio and we have power, speed, size, arm strength, athleticism and really good character kids in this class.”

“While we lose some quality Buckeyes in this year’s senior class, this group of recruits will have an opportunity to make some immediate impact because of the positions they play and the quality of players they are,” Kalafatis said. “We lose two full-time outfielders, a catcher/infielder and a pitcher and this class meets all of those needs.”

Meet the Newest Buckeyes:

Taylor Watkins

Bonney Lake, Wash./Bonney Lake High School
High School Coach: Andrew Sage
Travel Team: Washington Ladyhawks
Travel Coach:  Wayne Miller

Notes:  2010 ESPN RISE national champion … Plays for the Panthers at Bonney Lake High School in Washington after two years of varsity competition at Canyon Del Oro High School in Arizona …  In Wash., helped lead the Panthers to third place in 2010 in state 3A High School championship as team MVP  and captain after earning All-Area first team honors … Was named the South Puget Sound League (SPSL) 3A Most Valuable Player …. 2010 first team All-League selection … In Oro Valley, Ariz., led Canyon Del Oro High School to back-to-back state 4A championships (2008, 2009) … 2009 16A Nationals … 2009 first team All-State honoree and 2008 All-State honorable mention … two-time first team All-Region selection (2008, 2009) … 2009 Offensive Player of the Year at Canyon Del Oro High School and was named to the 2009 Louisville Slugger/NVCA High School All-Region Team … also plays volleyball at Bonney Lake,  two-year starter and 2010 team captain and MVP.

“It is an honor to be part of the Ohio State softball program,” Watkins said. “I know I will receive a quality college education and make lasting friendships. I am looking forward to being a Buckeye.”

Coach Kalafatis on Watkins: “Taylor was the first commitment of the 2011 recruiting class and we think she’ll be a terrific defensive outfielder at Ohio State. She’s a triple-threat hitter so getting another lefty in the lineup that can do different things was a priority since we’ll lose two this season. Taylor is an exceptional student and her interest in our nationally ranked vet school and equine center made this a great fit.”

Shelby Pickett

Temecula, Calif./Chaparral High School
High School Coach: Aaron Slojkowski
Travel Team: The Next Level (18U gold)
Travel Team Coach: Jerry Delamater

Notes: Two-time co-captain and MVP for Chaparral High School (2008, 2009) at shortstop … 2010 first team All-CIF Southern Section-Infield selection … two-time Southwestern All-League first team-Infield selection (2008, 2009) and two-time honoree to The Californian All-Valley first team-Infield list (2008, 2009) … three-time Southwestern League All-Scholastic Team member (2007-09) … on The Next Level, played multiple positions, including catcher, infield and outfield … has garnered several team accomplishments through the years including participating at 14U ASA Nationals (2008), 18G Gold ASA Nationals (2009, 2010) and 18 Gold Premier Nationals in 2010.

“The Ohio State University has two main qualities that interest me the most, academics and athletics,” Pickett said. “I feel like the Ohio State University has these qualities to push me to be as successful as possible not only in the classroom but also on the field. I’m glad I am going to be a Buckeye and be a part of this program. I look forward to starting in the fall of 2011 and to approach my future endeavors through the Ohio State University system.”

Maddy McIntyre

San Diego, Calif./Rancho Bernardo High School
High School Coach: Summer Downs
Travel Team: The Next Level (18U gold)
Travel Team Coach: Jerry Delamater

Notes: Has led the Broncos to back-to-back league titles in 2009 and 2010 … 2009 Softball Division I CIF Champions … four-year varsity starter … two-time second team All-League selection … Best Offensive Player in 2010 … also a four-year starter for varsity field hockey and basketball teams … captain of field hockey in 2010 and captain in basketball in 2009 and 2010 … will become the first person to earn 12 letters in high school career at RBHS … scholar athlete (2007, 2008, 2009) … academic honor roll (2007, 2008, 2009) … nominated for Female Athlete of the Year (2009-10) … on travel team, The Next Level,  has garnered several team accomplishments through the years including participating at 16U ASA Nationals (2008), 18 Gold ASA Nationals (2009, 2010) and 18 Gold Premier Nationals in 2010.

“I loved everything about Ohio State – the coaches, the team, the school and the facilities,” McIntyre said. “I have been waiting to sign now for a year and I can’t believe it went by so fast. I am really excited to be a part of the Buckeye team.”

Coach Kalafatis on Pickett and McIntyre: “Shelby was the second player to commit to the Buckeyes and we noticed her and Maddy at the same time playing for The Next Level out of San Diego, Calif. Both are very athletic and even though they are terrific defensive players, they are very offensive-minded players. Although they committed at separate times, these good friends and club ball teammates have a unique opportunity to have outstanding careers together as Buckeyes. I think Shelby and Maddy had a common vision about what they wanted out of their college experience and that matched with what they experienced at Ohio State during their visit. They saw excellent academics, big-time athletics, and incredible Buckeye spirit.”

Alex DiDomenico

Youngstown, Ohio/Boardman High School
High School Coach: Mike Trell
Travel Team: Beverly Bandits (18U Gold)
Travel Team Coach: Bill Conroy

Notes: Has led the Spartans on the mound to back-to-back appearances to the Regional Finals of the Division I Ohio Softball Championships (2009, 2010) … two-time first team All-Federal League selection in 2009 and 2010 … missed half of junior season due to injury on pitching hand, but right-hander posted 110 strikeouts, including a 0.50 ERA.

“Being from Ohio and getting a chance to be a Buckeye is a dream come true,” DiDomenico said. “The team is awesome and everyone I met at Ohio State has been great.”

Coach Kalafatis on DiDomenico: “Alex attended our winter pitching camp and we instantly saw great potential in her,” Kalafatis said. “I believe she is really just starting to come into her own and with a good high school and club ball season, she can gain the experience to be an impact in the circle for us as a freshman. She has power and athleticism and we believe Alex has the desire to join the great history of competitors we’ve had on the mound for us over the years.”

Caitlin Conrad

Richwood, Ohio/North Union High School
High School Coach: Dawn Draper
Travel Team: Lady Lasers (18U Aqua)
Travel Team Coach: Dave Kelly

Notes: 2010 first team All-State selection … 2010 first team All-Metro … 2010 Division III Central District Player of the Year and MOAC Player of the Year …two-time first team All-Central District honoree (2009, 2010) … first team All-MOAC (2010) and second team All-MOAC (2009) recipient … helped lead North Union High School to back-to-back finishes as runner-up in Division III Central District … as a freshman, lead the team in batting, slugging put outs and stolen bases as team made it to the Ohio Division II Regional …  with Ohio Lasers, club team has placed in Top 10 the last two years at Nationals, playing with current Buckeyes Kasey Kelly and Melissa Rennie …. Also plays basketball for North Union for the last three years … as a junior, team advanced to Regional tournament for first time in 20 years … plans to major in agricultural science.

“I am so excited about becoming a Buckeye,” Conrad said. “It is a dream come true. As a kid my parents would bring me to the games and I also attended several camps. I have an Ohio State jersey signed by the team when I was 10 years old and I told myself one day I would be an Ohio State player.  I look forward to earning my spot on the team and continuing the great Buckeye traditions. I give a lot of credit to my parents and coaches for getting me where I am today and I look forward to joining the team next fall.”

Coach Kalafatis on Conrad: “Caitlin was the last to join this class, and also grabbed our attention during our OSU softball camps, ” Kalafatis said. “She played club ball for the Lady Lasers and played with current Buckeyes Kasie Kelly and Melissa Rennie. Her speed is probably the best in this class so she has the ability to cover a lot of ground in the outfield. Like the others, she’s very athletic and has a rocket arm.”

“These five student-athletes, just like our current ones, realize that Ohio State isn’t just a place you go to school and play ball, it’s a special place that becomes part of you for a lifetime,” Kalafatis said.  “This is a proud moment for them and their families. We share in their excitement and look forward to seeing them on the field representing the Buckeyes next year.”