April 17, 2006

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COLUMBUS, Ohio – Defending national champion Michigan visits Buckeye Field Friday and Saturday, but first the Ohio State softball team hosts IUPUI in a doubleheader Tuesday and travels to Oxford, Ohio, Wednesday for a single game at Miami. The Buckeyes (28-14, 8-2 Big Ten) are a half game out of first place in the Big Ten and have extended their winning streak to 10 games after sweeping their third-consecutive Big Ten foe Sunday.

GameTracker will have the games live at The Buckeyes and Jaguars will get things started at 5 p.m. Tuesday, while the single game Wednesday at Miami also starts at 5 p.m.

Ohio State is 19-4 in its last 23 games and has won all 13 of its home games this spring. IUPUI is 12-27 overall, while Miami, the defending Mid-American Conference tournament champion, is 16-28. The game against the RedHawks Wednesday is OSU’s only road game in a current 19-game span.

The Buckeyes and Wolverines (26-11, 6-2 Big Ten) will meet at 6 p.m. Friday and 1 p.m. Saturday. Then at noon Sunday OSU will host Michigan State (30-14, 8-2), which sits beside the Buckeyes in the Big Ten standings behind leader Northwestern (9-2).

Ohio State’s current 10-game winning streak is its best since 2002 and the fifth-best in program history. The four better win streaks include 12 games in 2001, 14 games in 2002, 17 games in 1994 and a school-record 18 games in 2002, that coming after the 12-game streak earlier that same season. The three-consecutive Big Ten sweeps are the first for the Buckeyes since OSU won six consecutive league series in 2002. Ohio State’s sweep of No. 15 Northwestern April 9 was its first of a ranked opponent since 2002 (twice that season, vs. No. 25 Minnesota, at No. 20 Iowa).

Ohio State owns a .344 team batting average during its current 10 game winning streak, while at the same time OSU pitchers own a 1.65 ERA. All 10 of those wins have come at Buckeye Field, where Ohio State is hitting .333 and owns a 1.49 ERA.

Megan Schwab, the Big Ten Player of the Week last week, leads Ohio State with a .353 average, a .450 on-base percentage and a .546 slugging percentage. Chelsea Baker leads OSU with six homers, while Billie Carder owns the team’s second-best average at .293 and shares the team lead in RBI (25) with Courtney Pruner.

The pitching staff includes Jamee Juarez (13-8, 2.73 ERA), Kim Reeder (12-6, 1.71 ERA) and Pruner (3-0, 3.42 ERA).

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).

17th-ranked Northwestern, which lost twice at Ohio State April 9, sits atop the Big Ten with a 9-2 league record. Trailing by a half game are the Buckeyes and Michigan State, who are both 8-2. Michigan, ranked No. 13 last week, is 6-2 after having two games at Wisconsin rained out Sunday. This weekend, Wisconsin and Iowa travel to Indiana and Purdue, Michigan and Michigan State are at Ohio State and Penn State and Illinois and Northwestern are at Minnesota.

Ohio State is in a homestand that includes 18 of 19 games at home. The most recent similar homestand was in 2004 when the Buckeyes played a stretch of 16 of 18 games at home. The longest streak of consecutive home games occurred in 1994 when Ohio State played 20 straight home games, which was nearly topped in 1998 when OSU played 16 in a row at Buckeye Field.

Ohio State senior Chelsea Baker and Miami sophomore Kaitlin Kitzler were teammates at St. Francis DeSales High School in Columbus. OSU sophomore Brittany Vanderink (Hiram, Ohio) and Miami sophomore Halle Popson (Solon, Ohio) grew up 15 miles apart. Two players on each team are from the Phoenix area, including OSU juniors Megan Schwab (Glendale) and Christina Douglas (Mesa) and Miami freshman Ashley Gartland (Tempe) and senior Kristen Hays (Phoenix).

Four Buckeyes are from the Los Angeles area, including senior Stacy Hibma (Buena Park), juniors Jamee Juarez (La Puente) and Nycole Koyano (Walnut) and sophomore Liz Caputo (Riverside), as are RedHawks freshmen Kelly Cabana (Irvine) and Alexis Javier (Whittier).

Ohio State and IUPUI have met only once previously, that coming at Buckeye Field on March 17, 2001, in the Buckeye Invitational. Ohio State took an 8-1 win over the Jaguars as sophomore Katie Chain, who would go on to set nearly every OSU career pitching record, allowed just three hits. Kristi DeVries, now an assistant coach for the Buckeyes, went 1-for-2 at the plate with an RBI. OSU led 5-0 after three innings and gave up an unearned run in the sixth.

Ohio State leads the all-time series against Miami, 20-14-1, with their last meeting coming in 2001 at Miami, an 8-0 OSU win. These two teams met every season from 1993-01, with all but the 1994 and 2001 games being played in Columbus. The Buckeyes have won three straight games in Oxford (2001, two in 1994).

IUPUI (12-27, 7-8 Mid-Continent Conference) has eight starters back from its 2005 team that went 20-25 (10-10 Mid-Con). Senior Devan Craig leads the Jaguars at the plate and in the circle. She is batting a team-best .374 with 30 RBI, while owning a 7-13 record and 3.05 ERA. Craig and freshman Breanna Howell (4-10, 3.71 ERA) share the staff lead in strikeouts (54). Two other Jags are hitting above .300, including sophomore Jenna Crockett (.347) and senior Whitnie Darvell (.319).

Miami won the Mid-American Conference tournament last year before ending its season with two losses in the NCAA tournament at the Knoxville regional. Seven starters and two pitchers are back and the RedHawks were 12-7 after 19 games, but are 4-21 since, including 0-2 against the Big Ten (vs. Wisconsin). Sophomore first baseman Halle Popson leads the team with a .405 average and six home runs after hitting .313 and earning a spot on the MAC All-Tournament team as a freshman. Senior Courtney Salmon leads the pitching staff with a 6-6 record and 3.30 ERA.

Ohio State swept Minnesota Sunday 9-5 and 9-0 to improve to 13-0 at home this season and extend its winning streak to 10 games. In the last four of those games the Buckeyes have scored at least eight runs. Six of the wins have been in the Big Ten (Illinois, then-No. 15 Northwestern and Minnesota), while four have been outside the conference (Bowling Green and Toledo).

The Buckeyes are 24-0 when leading after four innings and 23-3 when scoring three or more runs. OSU has scored at least eight runs in its last four games and scored five runs in the first inning in both games against Minnesota Sunday.

Megan Schwab leads the Buckeyes with 11 multiple-hit games this season. Billie Carder is next with 10 and has three in a row, while Nycole Koyano ranks third with eight, including four in a row.

Courtney Pruner and Jamee Juarez share the team-lead in multiple-RBI games with six each. Juarez has two RBI in three of her last four games. Chelsea Baker leads Ohio State with six home runs, the most she has ever hit in one season. Her first three homers this season came in her first eight games and her next three homers have come in her last six games. Her seven-game hitting streak came to an end in game two vs. Minnesota Sunday when she was walked twice and flied out. 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.

Among the Buckeyes hot at the plate as of late are Baker (.478 in last 8 games), Carder (.425 in last 13 games), Lauren Daykin (.357 in last 12 games), Juarez (.409 in last 9 games), Koyano (.533 in last 4 games) and Brittany Vanderink (.394 in last 10 games).

See page 4 of this complete release for player bios.

In Big Ten statistics as of April 14, Ohio State ranked sixth in the Big Ten in batting (.264 avg.), sixth in pitching (2.38 ERA) and ninth in fielding (.955 pct.). The Buckeyes led in triples (9), ranked second in stolen bases (54) and fourth in home runs (26).

Individually, Megan Schwab ranked fifth in batting average (.363), seventh in doubles (9), ninth in total bases (64) and sixth in on-base percentage (.463). Nycole Koyano tied for first in stolen bases (21) and Billie Carder tied for the league lead in triples (3). Among Big Ten pitchers, Kim Reeder ranked ninth in ERA (1.78), eighth in innings pitched (121.2) and 10th in strikeouts (111), while Jamee Juarez ranked fifth in innings pitched (126.2) and sixth in strikeouts (140).

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 323 victories in Columbus (323-223-0, .585), and her overall record stands at 596-338-2 (.641) 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.

Junior Jamee Juarez has 13 wins this season to increase her career total to 51, which ranks third all-time. She ranks seventh on the career innings pitched list (504.0) and third on the strikeouts list (455).

Junior Megan Schwab has hit four home runs to increase her career total to 14, which ranks tied for fourth-most in OSU history with Ashley Cutcliff (2003-05). Chelsea Baker has six homers to give her 13 for her career, which is tied for fifth with Renae Reigel (1997-00).

Junior Nycole Koyano ranks tied for second in OSU history with 74 walks, fourth in stolen bases with 54 and eighth in runs scored with 101. She is already tied for ninth in career triples with seven and her next triple will tie her for fourth.

Since head coach Linda Kalafatis took over the Ohio State program for the 1997 season, the Buckeyes are 92-10 in non-conference home games at Buckeye Field. Among the best season records in non-conference home games, OSU was 14-2 in 2001 and 13-1 in both 2002 and 1998. The Buckeyes were 7-0 in non-league games at Buckeye Field last year, batting .389 as a team in those games and averaging 9.7 runs per game.

### GO BUCKS! ###