April 28, 2005

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COLUMBUS, Ohio – With Big Ten tournament implications on the line, the Ohio State softball team hosts four crucial conference games this weekend as the Buckeyes (24-14, 4-6 Big Ten) face Indiana and Purdue at Buckeye Field. The Hoosiers (13-35, 2-12 Big Ten) will take on Ohio State in single games at 6 p.m. Fri. and 1 p.m. Sat., while the Buckeyes and Boilermakers (31-19-1, 7-7 Big Ten/at Penn State Fri./Sat.) will play a double-header at noon Sun.

GameTracker will be available for all four games at Brutus Buckeye and the Ohio State spirit band will be at the game Saturday against Indiana.

In national statistics released by the NCAA Tues., Ohio State owns the nation’s No. 8 scoring offense (6.22 runs per game) and the No. 5 batting average (.331). The Buckeyes swept Bowling Green Wed., upping those numbers to 6.26 runs per game and a .334 average. Ohio State had all four of its Big Ten games cancelled last weekend (at No. 15 Northwestern, at No. 1 Michigan) and had a non-conference game Tues. vs. Western Michigan rained out. The Buckeyes took two from BGSU Wed. to improve to 5-1 in their last six games and to 16-2 against their last 14 non-conference opponents, but for OSU’s season to extend past next Sunday’s regular season finale against Penn State (30-18, 6-7 Big Ten), Ohio State must fare well this weekend.

Big Ten leaders Northwestern, Michigan and Iowa have already clinched a spot in the eight team conference tournament May 12-14 (hosted by regular season champion), but the remaining five spots are far from being determined. Purdue is currently No. 4 in the league standings, while Michigan State (6-6 Big Ten) is No. 5 but must travel to Northwestern and Michigan this weekend. Wisconsin and Minnesota are tied for seventh place and are at Iowa and 11th-place Illinois this weekend, while seventh-place Penn State hosts the Buckeyes’ same two opponents, 10th-place Indiana and No. 4 Purdue. Two Big Ten games remain for Ohio State following play this weekend as the Buckeyes host Penn State next weekend.

11 of Ohio State’s final 13 scheduled regular season games are all at Buckeye Field. OSU saw one of those games rained out Tues. against Western Michigan, but the remaining home games, including six inside the Big Ten, should aid in the Buckeyes’ quest to qualify for the Big Ten and NCAA tournament.

In national statistical rankings through Apr. 24, Ohio State ranked No. 8 in the country in scoring offense (6.22 runs per game) and No. 5 in batting average (.331). OSU was ranked fifth in triples per game (.44), 22nd in doubles per game (1.47), 23rd in stolen bases per game (1.69) and 12th in slugging percentage (.504). In individual rankings, Ohio State’s Nycole Koyano ranked No. 1 in triples per game (.21), No. 2 in walks per game (.76) and No. 25 in runs per game (.91). Karisa Evans was No. 13 in sacrifice hits per game (.34).

Ohio State is 24-49-2 all-time against Indiana, but the Buckeyes own an 8-2 record against the Hoosiers in the last five years. The two teams split a pair of games in Bloomington last season after OSU swept Indiana at Buckeye Field in 2003 and 2002. Buckeye head coach Linda Kalafatis is 9-7 against IU. In the 24 games played at Buckeye Field between these two schools, Indiana holds a 13-11 advantage. The Hoosiers last sweep in Columbus came in 1996.

Ohio State and Purdue first met in 1995. The Buckeyes lead the all-time series 11-6 and have won the last five games in a row against the Boilermakers. The two teams were able to play one game last season in West Lafayette, with OSU winning 6-4. Both games were rained out in 2003. In the 11 games played between these two teams at Buckeye Field, OSU holds a 6-5 advantage. Purdue’s lone sweep in Columbus came in 1999.

Three Ohio State seniors have been nominated for the CoSIDA (College Sports Information Directors of America) Academic All-America team. Meghan Rowlands and Jennifer Johnson, both English majors, and Ashley Cutcliff, a sports and leisure studies major, all have built career grade point averages over 3.2 and will be on the all-region ballot that goes to SIDs across District IV (Ohio, Mich., Ky., Tenn., Ala.). The first-team Academic All-District IV honorees will then be on the All-America ballot.

Ohio State’s .334 overall batting average is best in the Big Ten and is among the national leaders (No. 5). OSU is batting .327 in league games, which is No. 2 in the conference. OSU opponents are hitting .260 overall and .306 in league play. In all games, the Buckeyes have over twice as many doubles (63-30) and over three times as many triples (17-5).

Ohio State is 16-for-42 (.381) when the bases are loaded with three grand slams. OSU increases its batting average to .383 with runners in scoring position and to .494 (38-for-77) with a runner on third base and less than two outs. Buckeye pitchers have racked up 201 strikeouts, while OSU hitters have struck out only 146 times and have nearly twice as many walks (118 to 74).

The Buckeyes are 23-6 when scoring at least three runs and 14-2 when holding their opponents to two or fewer runs. OSU is 11-2 when scoring in the first inning and 20-6 when scoring first in the game. Ohio State is 23-3 when outhitting or having the same number of hits as its opponent.

Ohio State is coming off a double-header sweep of Bowling Green Wed. night at Buckeye Field. OSU won the opener, 5-0, behind a two-hit shutout by Jamee Juarez, who also hit a two-run homer in the second inning. In the nightcap, Chelsea Baker tossed six innings of four-hit ball and went 3-for-4 at the plate with a home run as the Buckeyes notched a 9-3 win. Ohio State collected 23 hits on the day, including 10 doubles, a triple and three home runs.

Indiana (13-35, 2-12 Big Ten) is 1-10 over their last 11 games, the win being a no-hit shutout by Mariangee Bogado over Evansville Tuesday. 10 of the Hoosiers’ losses this season have come against ranked teams, including No.1 Michigan, No. 9 LSU, No. 16 Florida, No. 17 Iowa and No. 19 Northwestern.

IU’s team batting average is .223, which ranks No.11 in the Big Ten, while its team earned run average is 3.59, which ranks No. 10. In the circle, the Hoosiers are led by Megan Roark, who is No. 4 in the Big Ten in strikeouts (205), No. 1 in strikeouts looking (73) and leads the team with nine wins. The Indiana offensive attack is led by Tory Yamaguchi with an average of .308, 9 HR, which is good for No. 9 in the conference, and 23 RBI. Rachel Terry is No. 9 in the Big Ten in doubles with 14 and has a batting average of .250.

Purdue (31-19-1, 7-7 Big Ten) travels to Penn State Friday and Saturday before arriving in Columbus to face the Buckeyes. Between mid-March and mid-April the Boilermakers went 15-2 including a win over No. 24 Iowa.

The Purdue pitching staff is led by current Big Ten Pitcher of the Week Diana LaRiva. She was 3-0 last week, including two one-hitters against Wisconsin and non-conference opponent Valparaiso. Her overall record leads the team at 12-4 and she also leads the team with an ERA of 1.88. Brooke Baker leads the team and is No. 10 in the Big Ten in wins with 13. The Boilermaker bats are led by Andrea Hillsey in nearly every category. She is tops on the team in batting average (.377), hits (52), doubles (14), runs (37) and tied atop the team in home runs (7). DaQueta Johnson supplements Hillsey’s bat with a .271 average, 7 HR and a team leading 40 RBI, which is good for No. 4 in the Big Ten.

Sophomore Jamee Juarez, twice named the Big Ten Player of the Week this season, continues to move up the Ohio State single-season and career records list as she builds on what has already been one of the best single-season pitching performances in school history. Her 18 win in 2005 are tied for No. 4 and her 136 strikeouts are No. 10. Those numbers are moving up on former Buckeye pitchers Belinda (Cernava) Quisenberry and Kristi DeVries, who are both members of the Ohio State coaching staff.

Juarez has started in the circle in 12 of Ohio State’s last 15 games and in 30 of OSU’s 38 games overall. She has earned the decision in 17 of the Buckeyes’ last 20 games. She has already compiled 155.2 innings pitched and 136 strikeouts this season. Juarez was 2-4 in her first six decisions before winning nine consecutive games from Feb. 27 to March 24. Her 254 career strikeouts are tied for No. 5 all-time at Ohio State.

In statistics as of Apr. 28, Ohio State’s .334 batting average and 17 triples are the best in the Big Ten, while the Buckeyes’ 146 strikeouts are fewest. In conference games, OSU is batting .327, which is second only to Michigan’s .333. The Buckeyes rank No. 3 in stolen bases (64 in all games, 14 in Big Ten). In all games, the Buckeyes rank No. 9 in team pitching and No. 8 in team fielding, but improve both those rankings to No. 7 and No. 6, respectively, in Big Ten games.

Individually in all games, Megan Schwab owns the Big Ten’s No. 5 slugging percentage (.688). The Buckeyes have the league’s No. 4, No. 5 and No. 7 on base percentage leaders (Nycole Koyano .489, Jamee Juarez .482, Karisa Evans .466). Koyano is tied for the Big Ten lead in triples (7), while Brittany Vanderink is tied for No. 4 in triples (4) and is tied for No. 6 in stolen bases (13). Evans is No. 3 in sacrifice bunts (11). Juarez is No. 8 for innings pitched (155.2), No. 7 for batters struck out looking (42) and is tied for No. 4 in wins (18).

In Big Ten games only, three Buckeyes are among the league’s batting average leaders, including Liz Caputo (No. 5, .450), Ashley Cutcliff (No. 6, .435) and Juarez (No. 9, .409). Cutcliff and Caputo rank eighth and ninth, respectively, in slugging percentage (.652, .650), while Christina Douglas and Billie Jo Carder rank No. 5 and No. 8, respectively, in RBI (12, 11). Carder’s four doubles are tied for second-most in the Big Ten, while Evans is tied for No. 6 in walks (7). Four of Evans’ sacrifice bunts have come in league games, which are tied for No. 2 in the Big Ten.

Chelsea Baker enters this weekend with a six-game hitting streak, during which time she is batting .625 (10-for-16) with five RBI, three doubles and a home run to raise her season batting average to .422, second-best on the team. In the circle, Baker has won her last two starts, combining for 12 innings pitched and 10 strikeouts.

Liz Caputo is batting .417 (10-for-24) in her last nine games to raise her overall average to .342. She is batting .450 (9-for-20) in Big Ten games, which ranks fifth in the league. Caputo’s four home runs this season ties her for second in OSU history for home runs by a freshman. She was a perfect 6-for-6 in the double-header at Minnesota Apr. 3 with a home run. Caputo hit two home runs Feb. 27 vs. Long Island, one of which was a grand slam, to set an OSU freshman record with seven RBI.

Billie Jo Carder owns a four-game hitting streak (6-for-14) and went 4-for-7 in the double-header against Illinois Apr. 17 with four RBI in game two. She hit a three-run homer in the seventh inning of that game. Her four doubles in Big Ten play are tied for No. 2 in the Big Ten lead in conference games. Carder had a career-high four hits in Ohio State’s 12-7 win over Marshall in the championship of the Buckeye Invitational March 20. Her grand slam against Mississippi State March 6 helped vault OSU to an 11-0 win.

Ashley Cutcliff was nominated for CoSIDA Academic All-America honors Apr. 19. She is hitting a team-best .455 and her .435 average in Big Ten games is sixth in league. Eight times in her career has she collected three hits in a game, including three times in 2005. Cutcliff’s 13 career home runs are tied for fourth-most in OSU history.

Christina Douglas ranks No. 2 on the team in RBI with 29. A team-leading 12 of her RBI have come in Big Ten games, which are tied for fifth in the league. Douglas was named to the all-tournament team of the Buckeye Invitational March 18-20 after hitting .500 (4-for-8) in the event with two doubles, a grand slam and eight RBI.

Karisa Evans owns a six-game hitting streak and is batting .571 (12-for-21) in her last eight games. She leads Ohio State in sacrifices with 11, which is tied for second in the Big Ten and ranks No. 13 in the country. Her career batting average of .334 is eighth-best in school history. Nicole Gragson has not allowed a run in her last five appearances (6.2 IP). She threw one inning of relief Tues. and tossed a three strikeout inning at Wright State Apr. 19. She pitched six solid innings against Iowa (now ranked No. 15) March 6 in the championship game of the Buzz Classic.

Natalie Hales hit her fourth career home run March 23 in OSU’s 6-1 win at Cal State Fullerton. She went 2-for-3 in game two of the double-header against Illinois Apr. 17. Stacy Hibma went 2-for-3 with a homer at Wright State Apr. 19, her fourth of the season. She also went 2-for-3 at California-Riverside March 26. She hit two home runs against Boston March 5.

Stephanie Hill has entered the game as a pinch runner 23 times this season, most on the team. She has scored 13 runs and has five stolen bases. Jennifer Johnson owns a team-best 74 fielding assists and has committed just one error in 35 fielding chances in Big Ten play. She was nominated for CoSIDA Academic All-America honors Apr. 19.

Jamee Juarez owns an 18-10 record with 136 strikeouts and a 2.20 ERA (see previous note). She won nine consecutive games from Feb. 27-March 24 and has started in the circle in 15 of OSU’s last 18 games. Her 254 career strikeouts are tied for fifth all-time at OSU. At the plate, she is 6-for-10 in her last three games. Juarez had an 11 game hitting streak from March 6-April 3. Juarez was named to the all-tournament team of the Buckeye Invitational when she pitched OSU to each of its three wins in the event and batted .556 (5-for-9). She has been named the Big Ten Player of the Week twice in 2005.

Nycole Koyano leads the nation in triples with .21 per game (7 3b, 34 g). She ranks No. 2 in the country in walks per game with .76 (26 bb, 34 g) and ranks No. 25 in runs per game with 1.oo (34 r, 34 g). Her triples total is third-most in a season at OSU and her walks total is tied for sixth-most. She owns a .871 career stolen base percentage (27-for-31) and set the OSU freshman stolen bases record last year with 16. Koyano was named to the all-tournament team of the Buckeye Invitational March 18-20. She set an OSU single-game record in the Buckeyes’ season-opening 8-0 win vs. Rutgers with two triples.

Nicole Lancaster hit her second double of the season Wed. vs. BGSU. She had a career-best day March 5 against SDSU when she went 2-for-2 with two runs scored, an RBI and a double. Meghan Rowlands went 2-for-3 against Michigan State Apr. 9 and doubled against Wright State Apr. 19. She had five hits in her first 12 at bats this season, including the game-winning RBI vs. Pittsburgh, Feb. 19. Rowlands was nominated for CoSIDA Academic All-America honors Tuesday.

Megan Schwab owns a .377 batting average, seven home runs, 32 RBI and a .688 slugging percentage. She went on a 10 game hitting streak from March 6-26, during which time she hit .612 (19-for-31). Schwab leads the team in multiple-hit games (13) and multiple-RBI games (11). Twice this season she has hit two home runs in a game. She was named to the all-tournament team of the Buzz Classic March 4-6 and the Buckeye Invitational March 18-20. Andrea Tribuzi made two pitching appearances in the Buzz Classic and has eight on the season.

Brittany Vanderink is batting a team-best .500 (8-for-16) in Big Ten games. She owns a five-game hitting streak, during which time she is batting .474 (9-for-19) to raise her season average to .355, her best mark of the season. Vanderink is 13-for-14 in the stolen base department, which ranks No. 2 for stolen bases in a season by a Buckeye freshman (Koyano set the record last season with 16). Her four triples this season are tied for the most-ever by a freshman at OSU.

Ohio State head coach Linda Kalafatis is in her ninth season at the helm of the Buckeyes’ softball program in 2005. She is already OSU’s all-time wins leader with 287 victories in Columbus (287-206-0, .581), and her overall record stands at 560-321-2 (.638) in 17 years as a collegiate head coach. Kalafatis has guided Ohio State to the NCAA tournament in two of the last three years and was named the 2002 Big Ten Coach of the Year. She is assisted by former Buckeyes Belinda Quisenberry and Chrissy Fowler.

Several Buckeyes have already bettered their statistical totals from a year ago. So. Megan Schwab has improved almost all of her numbers from 2004, including home runs (7 in `05, 3 in `04) and RBI (32 in `05, 25 in `04) and is batting .385 compared to .295 last year. So. Nycole Koyano has seven triples after having none in 2004. Jr. Billie Jo Carder has nine doubles and 22 RBI, which are more than her combined freshman and sophomore totals (five doubles, 10 RBI).

So. Christina Douglas has 33 hits, four home runs and 29 RBI this season after having 11 hits, one homer and seven RBI in 2004. Jr. Stacy Hibma has four home runs, more than the three homers of her first two seasons. So. Jamee Juarez is 18-10 in the circle with 136 strikeouts after compiling a 13-10 record with 118 Ks in 2004. Others with batting averages significantly up from last year include Carder (.255 in 2004, up to .327), sr. Ashley Cutcliff (.329 up to .455), Douglas (.216 up to .303), Hibma (.237 up to .308), Juarez (.279 up to .396) and jr. Nicole Lancaster (.000 up to .250).

As a team, Ohio State has already scored more runs (238) than it did last year (230), hit more home runs (32, 25 in 2004) and hit more triples (17, 7 in 2004). The Buckeyes are on pace to steal more bases (64, 70 in 2004).

### Go Bucks! ###