April 30, 2002

COLUMBUS, Ohio – The No. 20 Ohio State softball team (49-9, 15-3 Big Ten) wraps up its final week of regular season action with three games this weekend. The Buckeyes play host to Akron (25-11, 15-3 MAC) in their final home game of the year at 5 p.m. Thursday before heading to State College, Pa., for 1 p.m. contests Saturday and Sunday against Penn State (28-21, 9-8 Big Ten) with the Big Ten Championship on the line.

The Buckeyes lead the conference standings heading into the final weekend of competition with a 15-3 record. Michigan is trailing closely behind with a 13-3 mark. OSU, the only Big Ten team to not have a conference game cancelled this year, holds the edge over UM in the determining factor, winning percentage in conference, at .833 to .813. Iowa is third with a .714 percentage and a 10-4 record. Penn State, OSU’s opponent this weekend, is seventh in the conference at 9-8 and must win both games to have a shot at making the field of six for the conference tourney.

The fate of the 2002 Big Ten Championship rests in the hands of the Buckeyes this weekend. If Ohio State wins its final two games of the conference season, it will garner its second Big Ten title and the first since the 1990 season. Another perk for winning the regular season title is the Buckeyes would then host the 2002 Big Ten tournament May 9-11 at Buckeye Field.

Seniors Jenn Elwell, Chrissy Fowler, Stacy Roth, Anna Smith and Sarah West will play in their final regular season game at Buckeye Field when the Buckeyes play host to the Akron Zips at 5 p.m. Thursday. In their four years in Columbus, Ohio State has gone 62-23 at home with the current seniors on the roster. The Buckeyes were 10-9 in 1999, 11-6 in 2000, 22-6 in 2001, and 19-2 this year.

In 1994, the Buckeyes won 17 games in a row to establish the best run in the history of the program. With a 6-0 win over Wisconsin April 6 and running through a sweep of Indiana over the weekend, the 2002 Ohio State team has built a new record streak of 18 games in a row. In that span of time, the Buckeyes have outscored their opponents, 125-30, while improving OSU’s record win total to 49 (49-9). The previous mark with 46 (46-18) set a year ago.

When the NFCA released its weekly rankings April 24, Ohio State appeared in the Top 20 for the first time in the history of the program at No. 20. The Buckeyes used an 18-game winning streak and a 49-9 record to propel itself into the national spotlight.

Ohio State is ranked No. 2 in the latest NCAA Mideast Regional poll (April 25) with Michigan leading the way. The Buckeyes’ opponents for the week also are among the Top 10 with Akron garnering the No. 10 spot and Penn State coming in at No. 8. Here is the poll:

1. Michigan 36-9 2. Ohio State 44-9 3. Iowa 29-16 4. Minnesota 33-16 5. Northwestern 21-14 6. Central Michigan 25-13 7. Wisconsin 25-15 8. Penn State 25-21 9. Illinois-Chicago 30-18 10. Akron 25-9 Others Receiving Votes: Missouri-Kansas City

In previous years, 28 home runs by the 2000 team was the most in a season until the 50 put up this year. Not only is the new standard the highest mark for Ohio State, it is the most homers collected by any team in a single-season among the 11 members of the Big Ten Conference. The previous mark was established in 1999 when the Minnesota Golden Gophers launched 43.

To make team and conference history, the Buckeye individuals have had to send a few softballs over the fences. Kristine Himes has led the way with her 14 dingers on the year to move to 30 for her career. Both of her totals are records.

Stacy Roth is just behind Himes with 13 for the year and 27 for her career. In a single season, Wendy Allen (nine) and Sarah West (eight) have hit the third and fourth-most homers this year to help the Buckeyes to 49 wins.

In all, nine separate Buckeyes have gone deep with Himes, Roth, Allen, West and Chrissy Fowler the only players to hit more than one home run. Fowler has connected on two long balls. Here is the up-to-date score board for career home run supremacy:

1. Kristine Himes 2000-02 30 2. Stacy Roth 1999-02 27 3. Sarah West 1999-02 20 Here is the up-to-date score board for season home run supremacy:

1. Kristine Himes 2002 14 2. Stacy Roth 2002 13 3. Wendy Allen 2002 9 4. Sarah West 2002 8 5. Four tied with 6

The Buckeyes have displayed their power with 50 home runs this year. Ohio State also has been able to it for average. As a team, the Buckeyes are hitting a .348 clip which is good enough for third-best in the nation according to the statistics released at Tuesday. Alabama A&M and UCLA are tied atop the rankings with at .350.

In the fourth installment of national statistical rankings released by the NCAA Tuesday, Ohio State again ranked among the best in the nation in three categories as well as having representation in five individual categories. Along with being No. 3 in average, the Buckeyes are No. 5 in win-loss percentage (.845) and No. 7 in runs per game (5.88 on 341 runs).

Anna Smith continues to post big numbers and is No. 2 in the nation in batting average at .523. Smith also is No. 4 in stolen bases per game with 0.62 (36 in 58) and tied for No. 17 in triples per game with 0.12 (seven in 58). Wendy Allen is No. 13 in ERA (0.87) and Stacy Roth’s 1.02 RBI per game is No. 12 in the nation.

Katie Chain set the career strike out record for the program last year at 309 and has pumped in another 182 this year. Her 2002 total is two away from her own single-season mark of 184 set last year and is nine shy of giving her 500 for her career. The most strike outs recorded prior to Chain’s arrival in Columbus in 2000 was the 307 Genice Turley tallied in 1994 and 1995.

One reason for the success of the Buckeyes this year is attributed to how quickly they come out of the gates. In the first inning, Ohio State has outscored its opponents 63-16 and 62-4 in the second inning for a 125-20 margin. For the year, the Buckeyes’ opponents have only scored 111 total runs compared to OSU’s 341. The Buckeyes have scored more runs in the first two innings than its foes have for the year, 125-111.

Anna Smith is the all-time stolen base leader at Ohio State with 95 and is 36-for-41 this year. Jennifer Link is climbing the records ladder in the same category with a 26-for-30 performance in 2002. Her career total is up to 52 which is No. 3 on the all-time ledger. Cheryl Palaroan (1996-99) is second on the list with 56.

As a team, the Buckeyes have swiped a record 106 bases to rewrite the record of 98 set last year.

Anna Smith is closing in on yet another Buckeye single season record. She has recorded 92 hits in her 176 at bats in 2002 and is hitting at a .523 clip. Smith is currently ahead of all-time leader Greta Slagle’s .449 average in the 1979 season with eight games remaining in the regular season.

Ohio State is 36-4 this year in games it scores the first run. The Buckeyes also are 33-3 when they are involved in a three-run decision or greater.

Several milestones for the Ohio State program have or will be reached this year. When the Buckeyes defeated the Wright State Raiders in the first of two contests Wednesday, OSU recorded its 675 career win. The Buckeyes hold a lifetime record of 676-663-4 (.503) and have broken the .500 mark for the first time since 1984 when the program was 210-188-2 (.525).

Ohio State’s total travel milage is up to 15,765.8. OSU’s road trips, including 327.27 miles each way to Penn State, have included such far away destinations as Los Angeles, twice, Houston, Atlanta, Chattanooga, Tenn., East Lansing, Ann Arbor, Mich., Iowa City, Iowa, Evanston, Ill., Bloomington, Ind. and Dayton, Ohio, twice.

Linda Kalafatis is in her sixth season with OSU and has complied a 196-139 (.566) record in six seasons leading the Buckeyes. In her 13 years in the collegiate coaching ranks, Kalafatis has posted a 469-254-2 (.640) mark including stints with her alma mater California (Pa.) and Akron. At California, Kalafatis led her teams to five Pennsylvania State Athletics Conference titles and a 175-53-1 (.764) record. With the Zips, her teams went 98-62-1 (.608) in three years. Kalafatis earned her degree in business administration and marketing from CU in 1988 and added a master’s degree in geography and regional planning in 1991.

In OSU’s 10-0, five inning defeat of Marshall in the first game of a doubleheader April 3, Buckeye coach Linda Kalafatis earned the 450th win in her career. In her 13 year career, she has compiled a 464-254-2 (.644) record.

Kalafatis’ 150th victory in her OSU coaching career came in the Buckeyes’ 5-1 defeat of McNeese State at the Tournament of Champions in Northridge, Calif., to open the year. The 175th win in her career came in OSU’s 2-1, nine inning defeat of Michigan State in the conference opener for both squads. Kalafatis stands 191-139 (.579) as the Buckeyes’ head coach. This is not the only time she has surpassed the 175 win plateau. As a coach at her alma mater, California (Pa.), she amassed a 175-53-1 record.

Akron will be the fifth instate opponent the Buckeyes will face this year after posting a perfect 5-0 mark. Ohio State started with a 6-1 win at Dayton (March 6) and then defeated Kent State, 2-1, at the Buckeye Invitational (March 16). OSU defeated Wright State, 7-0 and 10-1, Wednesday for Buckeye wins three and four. OSU also defeated Ohio, 11-0 in five innings, April 26.

Akron is 26-12 after dropping a pair of home games to Penn State and splitting with Buffalo Tuesday and has posted a 16-4 record over MAC opponents. The Zips are led by the bat of Melissa Hurley and her .331 average on a team-high 39 hits. Seven players also have gone deep more than twice to build a total of 34 home runs for the team while only allowing 14. Kerstin Sewell leads the team with eight homers this year.

In the circle, Lisa Keenan paves the way for AU with a 16-5 record and a 1.31 ERA. She also has collected 175 strikeouts compared to the 82 put up by the other two hurlers on the staff.

The Nittany Lions are 28-21 overall this year and hold a 9-8 mark in the Big Ten. Gina Bianchini is hitting .350 on the year with 56 hits and three triples. Jennifer Tripken leads the team with 12 homers, half of the team’s total of 24, and 39 RBI.

The pitching corps is spearheaded by Marisa Hanson and her 1.39 ERA with a 13-10 record. The four member pitching staff had combined for 217 strike outs with Hanson’s 87 leading the way.

The Buckeyes went on the road and swept two games from Indiana to conclude the Hoosiers’ season with an 0-17 Big Ten record and 13-31-1 overall. Ohio State, after a scoreless first, posted runs in the second, third and fourth before closing the game with five runs in the top of the fifth for the 8-0 win. Anna Smith and Annie Dedic collected two hits in the win for the Buckeyes.

In the second game, OSU built a 5-2 run heading into the bottom of the seventh before allowing a two-run homer to bring the score to 5-4. Kristi DeVries then got the final out to keep the Buckeyes alive in the hunt for a Big Ten title.

The Buckeyes had six All-Big Ten selections last season, the most in program history. Katie Chain, after setting several single-season and career records, earned first team honors. Wendy Allen was tabbed as Big Ten Freshman of the Year and was a Second Team All-Big Ten selection along with Anna Smith and Stacy Roth. Jennifer Link and Kristi DeVries also earned Big Ten honors as members of the third team.

Buckeye Field, the outdoor home of the Ohio State softball team, stands as one of the more picturesque yards in the Big Ten. The all-dirt infield gives way to a well-kept outfield and warning track with fences at 190 feet in left and right field and 220 to straight away center. Equipped with field tarps, a press box, two spacious dugouts and full sound capabilities, the field comfortably seats 500 fans.

Ohio State will participate in the Big Ten tournament May 9-11 on the campus of the conference champion.