April 2, 2002

COLUMBUS, Ohio – The No. 25 Ohio State softball team, after playing its previous 12 contests on the road, returns to Columbus for six games in five days including four games with Big Ten opponents in or nearly entering the national Top 25. The Buckeyes (29-8, 2-2 Big Ten) play host to the Thundering Herd of Marshall in a doubleheader at 2 p.m. Wednesday to open the week. OSU and Wisconsin battle at 3 p.m. Friday and noon Saturday before No. 24 Minnesota visits for a doubleheader at noon Sunday.

Jennifer Link, on the first pitch of the first game at Michigan Sunday, connected on a Marissa Young pitch and sent the ball over the left field fence for her first home run of the year. The blast also was the first homer of her career.

Anna Smith followed the lead of Jennifer Link with a home run of her own in the first Michigan game. The hit, which landed nearly in the same spot as Link’s shot, was the senior’s first homer of her career as well.

Ohio State is 7-9 in its first Big Ten home game of the year since 1986 and has been outscored, 67-47. The Buckeyes have lost four conference home openers in a row, a streak that was started by Minnesota in 1998. The Golden Gophers came to Columbus and defeated the Buckeyes, 14-5, a tie for the largest deficit in the included years. OSU also lost to Michigan by nine runs (9-0) in the 1988 opener.

The Buckeyes have deposited 36 pitches over the fences this year and set the new season record with nearly half of their schedule remaining. The previous mark was set back in 2000 when Ohio State went deep 28 times.

OSU leads the Big Ten in home runs with Purdue in second (24) and Penn State third (15). LAUNCHING PAD
Speaking of home runs, a trio of Buckeyes have been firmly entrenched in a battle for the career home run lead at Ohio State. Kristine Himes entered the 2002 campaign with the all-time mark of 16 and has retained the lead with 26. Stacy Roth, after collecting two solo shots in the first Michigan State game, is closely behind her with 10 on the year to reach 24. Both Himes and Roth’s 10 homers tie the all-time, single-season mark at OSU with their next long ball setting the record.

Sarah West also is in contention for the record. She has six on the year to raise her career total to 17. Here is the up-to-date scoreboard for home run supremacy:

1. Kristine Himes 2000-02 26 2. Stacy Roth 1999-02 24 3. Sarah West 1999-02 17

With the help of the long ball this year, the Buckeyes have been able to easily outscore their opponents. Ohio State holds a 198-79 scoring edge this year.

The Buckeyes went to extremes over the weekend in their second game with Michigan State. Ohio State’s 13-0 victory was the largest for the team this year and the largest since the 2000 season when Tennessee Tech did not have the “Luck of the Irish” in a 13-0 loss on March 17.

Anna Smith, Stacy Roth and Katie Chain have recorded high numbers in several statistical categories this year and, in the process, rewritten the single season record ledger. Smith has done the most damage for Ohio State on the bases this year. Her 25 stolen bases are the second-most in a single season behind the 37 she recorded two years ago. She also has crossed home plate 43 times this year, the third-most at OSU. Smith also is second on the list with 44 and trails Krinon Clark’s 1994 mark 48.

Roth, along with her home run hitting, has collected the second-most runs batted in (RBI) in a single campaign with 38. Jen Fredrickson’s 42 in 1994 is tops on the list.

Chain has struck out 123 batters this year and that is good enough for the No. 5 spot on the list. Chain, a junior, is on the ledger two more times. She is No. 1 with 185 last year and No. 4 with 125 in her rookie campaign of 2000.

The Big Ten Conference released its compiled statistics for the first time this year and Ohio State appears near the top of most statistical categories. The Buckeyes lead the conference in overall batting with a .329 average and are fifth in pitching with 1.56 earned runs average.

Of the 21 batting categories included in the first conference report, Ohio State tops 16 lists. Some of the statistics the Buckeyes lead are hits, doubles, triples, home runs, runs scored, runs batted in (RBI), walks and total bases.

From the circle, the OSU pitching staff leads the Big Ten in wins and innings pitched and is in the Top 3 of strikeouts and saves.

Individually, Ohio State players appear close to the top of the lists in most categories as well. Anna Smith leads the Big Ten in several areas including batting average (.464), on base percentage (.508), hits (52), runs scored (43), triples (5) and stolen bases (25). She also ranks in the Top 10 in total bases and slugging percentage.

Also making a consistent appearance in the Top 10 are Stacy Roth and Jennifer Link. Roth leads the conference with 38 RBI and is tied with Kristine Himes for the lead in home runs and is listed in 9-of-15 offensive areas. Link, though not leading the Big Ten in any area, is in the Top 10 in 7-of-15 categories and is second to Smith in both hits and stolen bases.

Ohio State is 22-4 this year in games it scores the first run. The Buckeyes also are 21-3 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 Campbell, 12-1, at the Buzz Classic, OSU recorded the 650th win in the history of the program. The Buckeyes hold a lifetime record of 656-660-2 (.498).

Buckeye coach Linda Kalafatis’ 150th victory in her Ohio State 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 176-138 (.561) 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.

For her 13 year career, she has compiled a 449-322-1 (.582) and could pick up win No. 450 against Marshall Wednesday.

Anna Smith is the all-time stolen base leader at Ohio State with 93 and is 25-for-27 this year. Jennifer Link is climbing the records ladder in the same category with an 16-for-19 performance in 2002. Her career total is up to 42, the fourth-most in Ohio State history.

Upon its return from the Wolverine State over the weekend, Ohio State’s total travel milage increased to 13,364.2. The Buckeyes will be in their own beds this weekend before embarking on a weekend journey to Iowa and Northwestern next week. OSU’s road trips have included such far away destinations as Los Angeles, twice, Houston, Atlanta, Chattanooga, Tenn., East Lansing and Ann Arbor, Mich. and Dayton, Ohio.

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.

Linda Kalafatis is in her sixth season with the Scarlet and Gray and has complied a 176-138 (.561) record in six seasons leading the Buckeyes. In her 13 years in the collegiate coaching ranks, Kalafatis has posted a 449-252-2 (.639) 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.

Linda Kalafatis is a combined 11-19 as a head coach when her teams play Marshall, Wisconsin and Minnesota with an 10-19 mark as the Ohio State coach. A Kalafatis-led team at OSU is 0-0 against Marshall, 6-10 when playing Wisconsin and 4-10 against Minnesota. The records remain the same in her 13-year coaching tenure except for a 1-0 mark against the Thundering Herd.

The Thundering Herd is 10-14 on the year with a 3-3 mark in the Mid-American Conference, winners of their last three games and 0-5 on the year against teams from Ohio. Nichole Corrigan leads the team in hitting with a .382 average and 29 hits. Sierra Davenport leads the four-member pitching staff with a 3-2 record and a 1.99 ERA. Freshman Randi Nielson leads the staff with 54 strikeouts this year.

The Badgers are 20-10 overall in 2002 and went 3-1 in their opening weekend of conference action. Kristin Zacher is an all-around hitter for Wisconsin. She holds a .277 average at the plate with 26 hits, three doubles, two triples and three home runs. She also is among the team leaders in RBI with 12. Andrea Kirchberg and Katie Layne make up the pitching staff. Kirchberg is 12-8 on the year with a 1.34 ERA and 179 strikeouts. Layne has a 1.43 ERA with 58 strikeouts.

The No. 24 Golden Gophers are 24-11 on the year and 1-1 in the Big Ten after a spilt with Illinois. Tammi Hays has started all 35 games for Minnesota this year and is hitting at a .402 clip with 45 hits. In the circle, Piper Marten leads the team and the conference with 190 strikeouts and a 0.83 ERA. The UM pitching staff’s 0.95 ERA is tops in the Big Ten and its 287 strikeouts is the most in the conference.

The Buckeyes swept a two-game series from the Spartans of Michigan State in East Lansing, Mich., before falling in two contests at No. 13 Michigan in Ann Arbor, Mich., to close out Ohio State’s first weekend of conference action.

Stacy Roth hit two home runs, both solo shots, to lift OSU to a 2-1 win in nine innings to open the weekend at MSU. In the second game, Wendy Allen went five innings allowing no runs on one hit as the Buckeyes completed the sweep with a 13-0 decision in five innings.

On Sunday, Jennifer Link and Anna Smith hit the first home runs of their careers but mistakes hurt the Buckeyes in the final inning of play allowing UM to escape with a 5-4 win. Kristine Himes blasted her 10th homer of the year but the Wolverines jumped all over Katie Chain to post an 8-2 win and sweep the visiting Buckeyes.

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 takes its act back on the road with a trip to perennial power Iowa to open the trip before concluding its time on the road with two at Northwestern. The Buckeyes and Hawkeyes meet at 6 p.m. EST Friday and noon EST Saturday in Iowa City before heading to Evanston, Ill., for a doubleheader with the Wildcats starting at noon EST Sunday.