March 10, 2014


COLUMBUS, Ohio – The Ohio State softball team will spend its spring break in California, taking on the Cal Golden Bears in a single game on Wednesday, March 12 before traveling to Fresno, Calif., for five games in three days as part of the Bulldog Classic March 14-16.

Wednesday, March 12:
Ohio State at California (9-10) 6:00 EST

Friday, March 14
Ohio State vs. Cal Poly (13-9) 4:30 EST
Ohio State at Fresno State (12-8) 9:00 EST

Saturday, March 15
Ohio State vs. Pacific (7-11) Noon EST
Ohio State vs. St. Mary’s (11-12) 2:15 EST

Sunday, March 16
Ohio State vs. Colorado State (10-5) Noon EST

Ohio State is 9-11 on the season after winning three of five games at last weekend’s Red and Black Classic on the campus of the University of Louisville. The Buckeyes defeated Massachusetts twice and also knocked off Illinois State, 6-5.

Offensively, the Buckeyes are led by junior Caitlin Conrad (.368, six doubles, 13 runs scored 12 RBI) and senior Evelyn Carrillo (.328, 12 RBI, five doubles). Sophomore Erika Leonard, a transfer from Florida State and native of Cincinnati, Ohio, checks in with a .316 average and 12 RBI. Last weekend, junior Taylor Watkins hit .400 with eight RBIs, including a career-high five in Ohio State’s 13-3 win over UMass.

On the mound, senior Melanie Nichols has pitched 37.0 innings with 30 strikeouts. She is complemented by freshman Shelby Hursh (2-3, 4.47 ERA, 34 Ks), senior Olivia O’Reilly (23.0 IP, 4.26 ERA, 16 Ks) and junior Alex DiDomenico (3-2, 3.07 ERA, 21 Ks).

Fans can follow all six of the Buckeyes’ games this weekend by accessing Gametracker on Links to live stats will be available on the calendar tab on the homepage of and the schedule page on the softball site.

The Buckeyes’ non-conference schedule will once again test Ohio State against some of the nation’s elite. In all, OSU will play at least 16 games against teams that qualified for last year’s NCAA Tournament, including eight against squads that advanced to the Women’s College World Series. Additionally, Ohio State plays 15 games against teams either ranked or receiving votes in the NFCA/USA Today Preseason Top 25 poll. Nine of those games are against Top 10 teams. Below is Ohio State’s all-time record against team’s currently in the nation’s power conferences, including the Pac-12, Big XII, Big East, SEC and ACC.

ACC: 25-32
Pac-12: 22-63
SEC: 22-40
Big East: 15-3
Big XII: 11-19

Melanie Nichols, a fifth-year senior, is looking to work her way up the career record books for wins and strikeouts. In 2010, she made an instant impact as a freshman, going 21-3 with a 1.92 earned-run average of a team that advanced to the NCAA Tournament. Nichols redshirted in 2011 while recovering from an injury and returned in 2012 to start 25 games (12-9, 3.45 ERA, 82 K). In 2013, Nichols went 6-2 with a 3.05 ERA and 51 Ks. Currently, she ranks sixth in all-time in wins (40) and sixth in strikeouts (290).

Career wins
1. Kim Reeder (2006-09) – 77
6. Melanie Nichols (2010-pres.) – 40

Career Strikeouts
1. Jamee Juarez (2004-07) – 747
6. Melanie Nichols (2010-pres.) – 290

As a team, Ohio State ranks first in the Big Ten in doubles (32), tied for fourth in triples (three), seventh in runs scored (87) and fifth in runs batted in (81). Caitlin Conrad is tied for fifth in the league with six doubles and Olivia O’Reilly in the Big Ten leader with three saves.

Entering the 2014 season, Ohio State returns eight of its top 10 hitters and all five of its pitchers. In total, 79.1 percent of its RBI total returns,   77.6 percent of its runs returns, 87.5 percent of its stolen bases and 82.2 percent of its total bases return.

While the Buckeyes welcomed back a large amount of experience in 2014, they have also gotten a boost from several newcomers who are contributing both at the plate and on the mound. Erika Leonard, a sophomore transfer from Florida State, and Anna Kirk, a freshman from Groveport, Ohio, are hitting a combined .257 with 22 RBIs, 16 runs scored, five doubles and three home runs. Shelby Hursh, a freshman pitcher from Tipton, Ind., is 2-3 with a 4.47 ERA and has a team-high 34 strikeouts. She also had a no-hitter to her credit, the first by a freshman since 2001.

When the Buckeyes make the trek to Fresno, Calif., for the Bulldog Classic, senior Leesa Gresham will be making a long-awaited homecoming. Gresham is a Fresno native and graduate of Clovis West High School. While at Clovis West, she was the team’s MVP and a first team all-conference choice as a junior and senior. She holds the team single-season hits and RBU records.

In Ohio State’s 13-3 win over Massachusetts last Saturday, junior Taylor Watkins had a career day at the plate. The junior from Tucson, Ariz., drove in a career-high five runs, going 3-for-3 with a home run and a triple. Her eight total bases tied a career high.

Senior Evelyn Carrillo was the biggest star for the Buckeyes from the plate in five games at the Easton Desert Classic in Las Vegas, Nev. she hit .615 (8-for-13) with seven RBIs, 11 total bases and three doubles. Against Long Beach State, she went 4-for-4 with three RBIs, two doubles and a run scored. The four hits matches her career high, which was last set last season against Purdue.

Ohio State’s coaching staff of Kelly Kovach Schoenly, Amanda Buchholz, Jenna Hall and Megan Coletta has 36 years of combined experience either playing for coaching in the Big Ten. Kovach-Schoenly was four-year starter at Michigan and was an assistant coach for nine years at Penn State. Buchholz was a starting shortstop at Nebraska from 2000-03 and a volunteer assistant coach with the Cornhuskers for six years as a volunteer assistant. Hall played at Illinois for four years and is the school’s all-time leader in career and single season batting average. Coletta wrapped up her four-year playing career with the Buckeyes last spring.

Cammi Prantl, a second team All-Big Ten selection in 2013, made an instant impact for the Buckeyes last year. She led OSU in several offensive categories, including batting average (.346), at bats (188) and hits (65). Her name is littered throughout the single-season freshman records:

At bats – 3rd, 188
Batting average – 5th, .346
Hits – 2nd, 65
Doubles – 4th, 12
RBI – 7th, 31
Runs – 1st, 40
Stolen bases – 5th, 10

Ohio State is 23-13 at Buckeye Field over the past two years, and in 2014 it will host 13 games on its home field. The home schedule includes:

Michigan State – March 21-23
Ohio (DH) – April 9
Purdue – April 11-13
Penn State (DH)  – April 23
Northwestern – April 25-27

Fans can follow Ohio State softball on the web and through social media via the following outlets:

Twitter: @OhioState_SB