May 11, 2005

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COLUMBUS, Ohio – Coming off a two-game sweep of Penn State last weekend and riding the momentum of a 14-2 record in the last 16 games, the No. 4 seed Ohio State softball team travels to Ann Arbor, Mich., this weekend for the 2005 Big Ten Tournament. The Buckeyes (32-16, 9-7 Big Ten) face No. 5 seed Wisconsin (30-21, 11-9 Big Ten) in a quarterfinal game at 2:30 p.m. Fri., with the winner advancing to a semifinal game at 7:30 p.m. Fri. against either No. 1 seed Michigan or No. 8 seed Michigan State, which play at 7:30 p.m. Thurs.

Ohio State went 6-2 in its’ final eight Big Ten games of the regular-season to move up five spots in the Big Ten standings in just two weeks. The Buckeyes are making their fourth trip to the Big Ten tournament, all within the last five seasons, and are 3-5 in the event all-time. The 64-team NCAA tournament field will be announced Sun., May 15, with 16 schools serving as hosts for four-team, double-elimination regional tournaments.

GameTracker will be available for all OSU games this weekend at Games involving Michigan will be broadcast live over the internet by WCBN Sports Stream at The championship game will be televised live at noon Sat. by College Sports Television.

Ohio State is making its fourth trip to the Big Ten tournament, all under the direction of head coach Linda Kalafatis. The Buckeyes are 3-5 in their three previous appearances, those coming in 2001 (No. 3 seed, 0-2), 2002 (No. 2 seed, 2-2), and 2004 (No. 6 seed, 1-1).
2001 (No. 3 seed) in Ann Arbor: lost to No. 6 Wisconsin 2-1, lost to No. 5 Penn State 5-4
2002 (No. 2 seed) in Ann Arbor: beat No. 6 Illinois 5-0, lost to No. 1 Michigan 5-0, beat No. 5 Penn State 4-3, lost to No. 1 Michigan 2-1
2004 (No. 6 seed) in Ann Arbor: beat No. 3 Iowa 5-1, lost to No. 2 Illinois 5-0

Through its first 10 Big Ten games, Ohio State was 4-6 and sat in ninth-place in the league standings. Since then, however, OSU went 6-2 inside the conference in the final two weeks of the regular-season to jump up five spots to No. 4.

Rain and snow eliminated four of Ohio State’s conference games, those coming the weekend of Apr. 22-24 at Northwestern and Michigan. The Buckeyes’ 16 Big Ten games tied No. 8 seed Michigan State (7-9) for the fewest league contests in the Big Ten this season.

Ohio State met five of the seven other teams in the Big Ten tournament this season and posted a combined 4-7 record against them. The Buckeyes have yet to meet Michigan or Northwestern this season. Wisconsin, OSU’s first opponent in the event, was also the Buckeyes’ opponent in the first weekend of the Big Ten season Apr. 1-2. The Badgers won both games by one run, 2-1 and 8-7. Against other teams in the tournament, Ohio State was 0-3 against No. 3 seed Iowa, 2-0 vs. No. 6 seed Penn State, 1-1 vs. No. 7 seed Purdue and 1-1 vs. No. 8 seed Michigan State.

In national statistical rankings through May 9, Ohio State was ranked among the national leaders in six categories, including batting average (No. 8, .323), scoring (No. 9, 5.90 runs/gm.), doubles (No. 4, 1.71/gm.), triples (No. 9, .38/gm.), stolen bases (No. 15, 1.73/gm.) and slugging percentage (No. 13, .499). In individual rankings, Nycole Koyano was ranked No. 4 in triples per game (.15), No. 21 in walks per game (.63) and No. 30 in runs per game (.89). Jamee Juarez was No. 15 in wins (25).

With a 6-0 win over Pittsburgh May 4, Ohio State improved to 30-15 for the ninth 30-win season in school history. Five of those 30-win seasons have come under the direction of Linda Kalafatis, Ohio State’s ninth-year head coach. The Buckeyes enter the Big Ten tournament 32-16 overall.

Ohio State’s .323 overall batting average is No. 2 in the Big Ten and is among the national leaders (No. 8). The Buckeyes have over twice as many doubles (82-34) and three times as many triples (18-6). Ohio State is 19-for-48 (.396) when the bases are loaded with three grand slams. OSU increases its batting average to .376 with runners in scoring position and to .500 with a runner on third base and less than two outs. Buckeye pitchers have racked up 259 strikeouts, while OSU hitters have struck out only 184 (fewest in Big Ten).

When leading after five innings, Ohio State is 7-0 in Big Ten games and 21-0 in all games. The Buckeyes are 31-6 when scoring at least three runs and 20-2 when holding their opponents to two or fewer runs. OSU is 12-2 when scoring in the first inning and 26-6 when scoring first in the game. Ohio State is 30-3 when outhitting or having the same number of hits as its opponent.

With two shutout victories over Penn State last weekend, soph. Jamee Juarez became Ohio State’s single-season wins record holder with 25, breaking the former mark of 24 set by Genice Turley in 1994. Juarez owns 38 career wins, which are tied for fifth all-time with current Ohio State assistant coach Belinda (Cernava) Quisenberry.

Juarez has notched 10 shutouts this season, which is one shy of the OSU record set by Katie Chain in 2001, and her 13 career shutouts are tied for No. 5. Juarez has pitched 22 complete games in 2005, which are tied for No. 2 behind Turley’s 27 in 1994. Juarez owns 305 strikeouts, which are fourth all-time and are two shy of No. 3 Turley’s 307. Her 187 strikeouts this season and 207.0 innings pitched are both No. 3.

Juarez has started in the circle in 33 of Ohio State’s 48 games this season and has been the pitcher of record in 36 games. She has pitched 86 of the Buckeyes’ 106.2 innings against Big Ten opponents. To begin the season, Juarez was 2-4 in her first six decisions before winning nine consecutive games from Feb. 27 to March 24. She also had a six-game winning streak from Apr. 17 to May 1.

Ohio State is 8-17 all-time against Wisconsin, including 0-1 in the Big Ten tournament (2001). In games played in Columbus, however, the Buckeyes hold a 7-5 series advantage, but Ohio State is 1-10 at Wisconsin and 0-2 at neutral sites. Earlier this season, the Badgers took two one-run games from the Buckeyes in Madison, 2-1 and 8-7.

Should the Buckeyes advance to the semifinal round, they will face either No. 1 seed Michigan or No. 8 seed and defending Big Ten tournament champion Michigan State. Against MSU, OSU leads the all-time series 47-38, though the Spartans hold a narrow 12-11 edge over the past 10 years. The teams split two games in East Lansing earlier this season, with OSU winning game one, 6-1, and MSU taking game two, 7-4.

Michigan leads the all-time series against Ohio State, 66-16. The Wolverines are 25-3 against the Buckeyes over the last 10 seasons and have won the last 18 consecutive games against Ohio State at UM’s Alumni Field. The Buckeyes’ last wins in Ann Arbor came Apr. 1, 1994, when OSU swept a double-header.

Ohio State is 12-2 in its last 14 games, which includes a 5-1 record in Big Ten games. The Buckeyes swept Wright State Apr. 19 and Bowling Green Apr. 27 before getting back into Big Ten play against Indiana and Purdue Apr. 29-May 1. OSU swept the Hoosiers and split with the Boilermakers. Last week, Ohio State took two games from Akron, went 1-1 at Pittsburgh and swept Penn State.

During that 14-game stretch, four Buckeyes hit over .400, including Liz Caputo (.480), Karisa Evans (.455), Stacy Hibma (.438) and Nycole Koyano (.419). Jamee Juarez won nine of those games (9-1, 1.12 ERA) and Chelsea Baker won three (3-1, 2.88 ERA). Ohio State out-homered its opponents 12-4 and out-doubled them 31-4.

Ohio State’s double-header at Pittsburgh May 4 brought to an end the Buckeyes’ regular-season non-conference schedule. Against its final 17 non-Big Ten opponents, Ohio State was 19-3. Overall this season, Ohio State was 23-9 in non-conference games, including one win over a ranked team, that being then-No. 19 Georgia Tech (now No. 17) March 6 in Marietta, Ga.

Wisconsin (30-21, 11-9 Big Ten) enters the Big Ten tournament riding a seven-game winning streak and a 17-2 record in its last 19 games, which includes a 5-1 win at then-No. 19 Iowa Apr. 29. The Badgers, which took two one-run games from Ohio State in Madison Apr. 1-2, rank No. 5 in the Big Ten in batting (.285), No. 6 in pitching (2.69) and No. 10 in fielding (.948).

Kris Zacher leads the Badgers with a .400 average, while Boo Gillette is hitting .355 with 10 home runs. Anastasia Miller leads Wisconsin in home runs (11) and RBI (36). Eden Brock is tops on the pitching staff with a 19-8 record, while Katie Layne’s 2.50 is best.

Ohio State ranks No. 2 in the Big Ten in batting (.323) and No. 2 in scoring (5.90 runs/game). OSU is No. 8 in pitching (2.85 ERA) and fielding (.956), but those rankings improve in Big Ten games to No. 5 in pitching (2.95 ERA) and No. 3 in fielding (.968) in league contests. Despite having played the fewest games of all league teams, OSU ranks first in doubles (82) and triples (18) and is No. 2 in stolen bases (83). The Buckeyes have also struck out the fewest times (184).

Ohio State has three of the conference’s Top 10 on base percentage leaders, as Karisa Evans ranks fifth (.482), Nycole Koyano ranks sixth (.476) and Jamee Juarez ranks ninth (.450). Megan Schwab owns the No. 10 batting average (.370) and No. 7 slugging percentage (.638). Koyano is tied for the Big Ten lead in triples (7), is No. 4 in walks (29) and is No. 9 in runs (41). Evans is No. 2 in sacrifice bunts (13) and Brittany Vanderink is No. 10 in stolen bases (14). Among Big Ten pitchers, Juarez ranks No. 3 in wins (25), No. 7 in strikeouts (187) and No. 4 in innings pitched (207.0).

Ohio State seniors Ashley Cutcliff, Karisa Evans, Natalie Hales, Jennifer Johnson and Meghan Rowlands played their final games at Buckeye Field last weekend. Their 148 wins while at Ohio State are fourth-most in school history for one class and they have helped lead the Buckeyes to both of the school’s NCAA tournament appearances (2002, 2004). These five seniors are 148-78 at Ohio State for a .653 winning percentage. Ohio State’s 2004 senior class set the all-time wins record for a class with a 162-80 (.669) record. The 2003 class ranks second with 154 wins and the 2002 class ranks third with 149 wins.

In 22 fewer games than it played last year, Ohio State has already scored more runs (283) than it did last year (230), hit more home runs (37, 25 in 2004), hit more triples (18, 7 in 2004) and stolen more bases (83, 70 in 2004).

Megan Schwab has improved almost all of her numbers from 2004, including home runs (7 in `05, 3 in `04) and RBI (33 in `05, 25 in `04) and is batting .370 compared to .295 last year. Nycole Koyano has seven triples after having none in 2004. Billie Jo Carder has 10 doubles and 27 RBI, which are more than her combined freshman and sophomore totals (five doubles, 10 RBI).

Christina Douglas has 38 hits, four home runs and 31 RBI this season after having 11 hits, one homer and seven RBI in 2004. Stacy Hibma has five home runs, more than the three HR of her first two seasons. Others with batting averages significantly up from last year include Carder (.255 in 2004, up to .299), sr. Ashley Cutcliff (.329 up to .409), Douglas (.216 up to .292), Hibma (.237 up to .320) and Jamee Juarez (.279 up to .361).

Chelsea Baker (.356, 4 HR, 20 RBI, 6-3, 3.93 ERA || in Big Ten games: .200, 0 HR, 2 RBI, 0-1, 5.68 ERA) … had an eight-game hitting streak from Apr. 16-30, during which she went 12-for-23 (.522) with a home run, four doubles and six RBI. Baker is batting .366 during OSU’s 12-2 record in its last 14 games. She had a career-high four RBI vs. Akron May 3. Her .436 avg. with runners on base is tied for No. 3 on the team.

Liz Caputo (.379, 4 HR, 19 RBI || in Big Ten games: .516, 1 HR, 2 RBI) … is batting .500 (21-for-42) in her last 16 games to raise her average to No. 2 on the team. Caputo’s avg. in league games is best on the team. She enters the Big Ten tournament with a career-best seven-game hitting streak, during which time she is batting .526 (10-for-19. She went 4-for-6 in the sweep of Penn State last weekend with her first career triple. Caputo’s four home runs are tied for 2nd in OSU history for HR by a freshman. 13 of her 19 RBI have come with two outs (tied for 2nd on team). 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 (.299, 3 HR, 27 RBI || in Big Ten games: .240, 2 HR, 14 RBI) … owns a .458 avg. with runners in scoring position, 2nd best on team. 13 of her RBI have come with two outs, tied for 2nd on team. Carder has driven in 14 runs in Big Ten games, tied for tops on the team. She went 4-for-7 in the double-header vs. Illinois Apr. 17 with four RBI in game two. She had a career-high four hits in a 12-7 win over Marshall 3/20. Her grand slam against Mississippi St. 3/6 helped led to an 11-0 win.

Ashley Cutcliff (.409, 5 HR, 18 RB || in Big Ten games: .370, 1 HR, 6 RBI) … was nominated for CoSIDA Academic All-America honors Apr. 19. Her avg. is best on the team and she increases it to a team-best .436 (17-for-39) with runners on base, tied for No. 3 on the team. Eight times in her career has she collected three hits in a game, including three times in 2005. Cutcliff’s 14 career home runs are 4th-most in OSU history.

Christina Douglas (.292, 4 HR, 31 RBI || in Big Ten games: .320, 1 HR, 14 RBI) … leads Ohio State in doubles (12) and ranks No. 2 in RBI. Her 14 RBI in Big Ten games is tied for the team lead. Douglas went 3-for-5 in the Penn State series last weekend with two RBI. She went 4-for-4 with two doubles and four RBI at Minnesota Apr. 3 and had six RBI vs. Marshall March 20. 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 (.358, 1 HR, 21 RBI || in Big Ten games: .359, 1 HR, 6 RBI) … enters the Big Ten tournament with a six-game hitting streak, one shy of her career best, during which time she is 7-for-16 (.438). Evans is batting .440 (22-for-50) in her last 18 games. In Big Ten games, her avg. is No. 4 on the team. She leads Ohio State in sacrifice bunts with 13, which is tied for second in the Big Ten and ranks No. 17 in the country (as of May 1). Her success rate of advancing runners in best on the team, both in Big Ten games (.773) and in all games (.662). Her career batting average of .338 is tied for sixth-best in school history. She is a 205 Ohio State tri-captain.

Nicole Gragson (1-2, 5.25 ERA || in Big Ten games: 0-1, 3.36 ERA) … has been charged with only two earned runs in her last six appearances (8.2 IP). She threw a three strikeout inning at Wright State Apr. 19. She pitched six solid innings against Iowa (now ranked No. 19) March 6 in the championship game of the Buzz Classic.

Natalie Hales (.213, 1 HR, 3 RBI || in Big Ten games: .280, 0 HR, 0 RBI) … went 1-for-2 in the Penn State series with two sacrifice bunts. Hales went 2-for-3 vs. Illinois Apr. 17 and 1-for-3 vs. Indiana Apr. 30. She hit her fourth career home run March 23 in OSU’s 6-1 win at Cal State Fullerton. She is a 2005 tri-captain.

Stacy Hibma (.320, 5 HR, 12 RBI || in Big Ten games: .091, 0 HR, 0 RBI) … had a career-best six-game hitting streak from Apr. 19-May 4, during which time she batted .500 (7-for-14). She went 2-for-3 with a homer at Wright State Apr. 19 and hit another homer, her fifth of the season, May 4 at Pittsburgh. She hit two home runs vs. Boston March 5.

Stephanie Hill (3 ab, .000) has entered the game as a pinch runner 28 times this season, most on the team. She has scored 14 runs and has six stolen bases.

Jennifer Johnson (.042, 0 HR, 2 RBI || in Big Ten games: 1 ab) … owns 90 fielding assists, most on the team, and has committed just one error in 58 fielding chances in Big Ten play. She was nominated for CoSIDA Academic All-America honors Apr. 19. Johnson has started 45 games at shortstop this season, the most of any Buckeye at any one position. She has started in 159 games as a Buckeye, the most among active players.

Jamee Juarez (.361, 1 HR, 27 RBI, 25-11, 1.96 ERA || in Big Ten games: .341, 0 HR, 7 RBI) … is the current Big Ten Pitcher of the Week. She has been the starting pitcher in 33 of OSU’s 48 games and in all but one Big Ten game. Juarez has been the pitcher of record in 36 games and her 25 wins this season is a new OSU record. Her 10 shutouts this season are one shy of the OSU record and her 187 strikeouts are No. 3. Juarez ranks 4th on the OSU career strikeout list (305). She won nine consecutive games from Feb. 27-March 24. Juarez had an 11 game hitting streak from March 6-April 3. She has been named the Big Ten Player of the Week twice in 2005 and the Pitcher of the Week once.

Nycole Koyano (.360, 1 HR, 16 RBI || in Big Ten games: .306, 0 HR, 3 RBI) … led the nation in triples as of Apr. 24 with .21 per game (now ranks 4th, .15). Koyano ranks No. 21 in the nation in walks per game (.63) and No. 30 in runs per game (.89). Her 41 runs and 29 walks this season are both fifth-most in the OSU single-season record book. Koyano has at least one hit in 12 of her last 13 games and is batting .419 (18-for-43) during that stretch. She owns a .889 career stolen base percentage (32-for-36, team-high 16 SB in 2005) 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 (.238, 0 HR, 1 RBI) … hit her second double of the season Apr. 27 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 (.211, 1 HR, 6 RBI || in Big Ten games: .150, 0 HR, 0 RBI) … has played in 189 games as a Buckeye, most among active players. Her bases-loaded hit against Akron May 3 gave OSU an eight-run mercy rule win. She 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 Apr. 19. She is a 2005 Ohio State tri-captain.

Megan Schwab (.370, 7 HR, 33 RBI || in Big Ten games: .250, 0 HR, 4 RBI) … leads the team in multiple hit games (14) and multiple RBI games (11) as well as HR and RBI. She is 3-for-3 with the bases loaded and is batting a team-best .462 with runners in scoring position. Schwab went on a 10 game hitting streak from March 6-26, during which time she hit .612 (19-for-31). 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 (0-0, 6.00 ERA) made two pitching appearances in the Buzz Classic and has eight on the season. She pitched one inning of shutout relief Apr. 19 at Wright State.

Brittany Vanderink (.315, 0 HR, 10 RBI || in Big Ten games: .364, 0 HR, 2 RBI) … her avg. in Big Ten games is third-best on the team. In all games, Vanderink owns a .414 avg. with runners in scoring position (12-for-29), which is No. 6 on the team. Vanderink is 14-for-15 in the stolen base department, which ranks No. 2 for stolen bases in a season by a 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. She is 7-for-13 (.538) as a pinch hitter, including 4-for-5 (.800) in Big Ten games.

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.

The Ohio State at Michigan double-header Apr. 24 in Ann Arbor was to have been televised by ESPN’s new college sports-only affiliate, ESPNU. The television coverage would have marked the Ohio State softball team’s first appearance on national TV, while at the same time the Buckeyes were aiming for their first win over the nation’s No.1-ranked team (0-3, most recent meeting in 1997).

For just the second time, the Buckeyes faced their first three Big Ten opponents (six games total) all away from Columbus. The 1987 OSU squad also opened its Big Ten schedule with three road opponents, including games at Michigan, Northwestern and Indiana. Dating back to the middle of the 2004 season, OSU played 17 consecutive Big Ten games on the road, including the 2004 Big Ten tournament.

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 295 victories in Columbus (295-208-0, .582), and her overall record stands at 568-323-2 (.639) 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.

### Go Bucks! ###