April 5, 2005

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COLUMBUS, Ohio – Coming off a 2-2 record on the road in its first Big Ten weekend of the season, the Ohio State softball team (18-10 overall) travels to Michigan State for single games Friday (4 p.m.) and Saturday (1 p.m.). Live GameTracker will be available for both games at

The two Big Ten wins both came Sunday as the Buckeyes posted their first-ever sweep of Minnesota in Minneapolis. Ohio State boasts the Big Ten’s best offense, batting .326 overall and ups that to .342 in conference play.

Ohio State is in the midst of a 10-game road trip, with six of those games being inside the Big Ten as the Buckeyes will play their first six league games all away from Columbus for just the second time in program history. OSU is 3-0 at home but is not in Columbus again until Apr. 15-17 for games against Iowa and Illinois.

Ohio State dropped its first two games, then won two straight last weekend on the road as the 2005 Big Ten season got underway. The Buckeyes saw host Wisconsin narrowly win both games, as the Badgers took the Friday game, 2-1, and won Saturday in extra innings, 9-7. Ohio State bounced back, however, with its first-ever sweep of the Golden Gophers in Minneapolis, winning 13-1 and 5-1 Sunday. The 13 runs scored in the opener at Minnesota ties the OSU record for most runs scored in a Big Ten game. Previously, the Buckeyes won 13-0 at Michigan State March 30, 2002 and won a double-header from Minnesota Apr. 17, 1994, by 13-0 and 13-5 scores.

For just the second time in program history, the Buckeyes will face 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.

Facing the Badgers and Golden Gophers on the road last weekend, Ohio State now travels to Michigan State this weekend. The current road stretch is the just the third such overall six-game span of Big Ten road games in program history. What the 1987 Buckeyes first did, last year’s OSU squad duplicated when it played its final six league games all away from home.

When Ohio State hosts Iowa April 15, it will mark the Buckeyes’ first Big Ten home game since Apr. 18, 2004, when OSU hosted Northwestern.

Several Buckeyes have already bettered their statistical totals from a year ago. Sophomore Megan Schwab has already improved almost all of her numbers from 2004, including home runs (7 in `05, 3 in `04) and RBI (30 in `05, 25 in `04) and is batting .415 compared to .295 last year. Sophomore Nycole Koyano has six triples after having none in 2004. Junior Billie Jo Carder has seven doubles and 13 RBI this season, which are more than her combined freshman and sophomore totals (five doubles, 10 RBI).

Sophomore Christina Douglas has 28 hits, four home runs and 24 RBI this season after having 11 hits, one homer and seven RBI in 2004. Junior Stacy Hibma has three home runs, matching the career total of her first two seasons. Sophomore Jamee Juarez is 14-7 in the circle with 122 strikeouts after compiling a 13-10 record with 118 strikeouts in 2004. Those with batting averages significantly up from last year include Carder (.255 in 2004, up to .333), senior Ashley Cutcliff (.329 up to .472), Douglas (.216 up to .333), Hibma (.237 up to .333), Juarez (.279 up to .394), junior Nicole Lancaster (.000 up to .267) and Schwab (.295 up to .415).

Among Ohio State’s team numbers up from last year, the Buckeyes’ 14 triples are more than the seven they had in 2004. In addition, Ohio State has already turned more double plays (10 in `05, 9 in `04), and is on pace to better its’ 25 home runs (24 so far in 2005), 70 stolen bases (49 in 2005) and 230 runs (178 in 2005).

Sophomore Jamee Juarez has pitched at least three innings in Ohio State’s last 11 consecutive games. She has been the pitcher of record in 13 of the Buckeyes’ last 15 games and owns a 9-4 record over that span. She has already compiled 120.2 innings pitched and 122 strikeouts in 2005, and along with her 14-7 record, is on her way to turning in one of the all-time best single-season pitching performances in OSU history. Juarez was 2-4 in her first six decisions before winning nine consecutive games from Feb. 27 to March 24. Her 240 career strikeouts are sixth all-time at Ohio State, and she is closing in on No. 5 Shelly Eger’s 254 strikeouts.

At the plate, Juarez has been just as impressive. Her .394 batting average is second on the team and 10th in the Big Ten and she posted an 11 game hitting streak from March 5 to April 3.

Ohio State is hoping the momentum gained in March with an 11-3 record will carry over into the start of Big Ten play. The Buckeyes were 11-3 in March this season, building on a string of five consecutive seasons with stellar March records. Ohio State was 12-4 in March in 2004 and 2003, 20-7 in 2002 and a 17-7 in 2001. Winning streaks during those years included seven games in 2005 and 2004, nine in 2003, 14 in 2002 and 12 in 2001.

Ohio State’s .326 batting average overall is best in the Big Ten and OSU ups that to .342 in league games. OSU opponents are hitting .251 overall and .263 in league play. The Buckeyes have more than twice as many doubles (45-19) and nearly five times as many triples (14-3). OSU has outscored its opponents 178-113 overall and has more total runs in every inning.

Ohio State is 14-for-36 (.389) when the bases are loaded with three grand slams. In 183 innings played, the Buckeyes’ leadoff batter has reached base 77 times (.421). OSU increases its batting average to .367 with runners in scoring position and to .525 (26-for-51) with a runner on third base and less than two outs. Buckeye pitchers have wracked up 162 strikeouts, while OSU hitters have struck out only 113 times and have nearly twice as many walks (96 to 53).

The Buckeyes are 17-4 when scoring at least three runs and 11-2 when holding their opponents to two or fewer runs. OSU is 8-1 when scoring in the first inning and 16-4 when scoring first in the game. Ohio State is 17-2 when outhitting or having the same number of hits as its opponent.

Ohio State’s .326 overall batting average is best in the Big Ten, as are the Buckeyes’ 14 triples and .408 on base percentage. OSU has also struck out the fewest times in the Big Ten (113), and ranks No. 2 in the Big Ten in both stolen bases (49) and slugging percentage (.514).

Individually, Megan Schwab owns the Big Ten’s No. 5 batting average (.415) and top slugging percentage (.793). She is tied for ninth in doubles (8), eighth in home runs (7) and her .484 on base percentage ranks sixth behind teammates Nycole Koyano (.500) and Jamee Juarez (.494). Koyano leads the league in triples (6) and walks (24), while Juarez ranks tenth in batting average at .394. Brittany Vanderink is tied for third in the Big Ten in triples (3) and is tied for seventh in stolen bases (9), while Karisa Evans is tied for second in sacrifice bunts (9). Juarez ranks third in the Big Ten in innings pitched (120.2) and her 22 appearances are sixth. Her 14 wins are tied for third and her 122 strikeouts are seventh.

Chelsea Baker’s two-run home run in the seventh inning against 19th-ranked Georgia Tech March 6 was her second of the season and fifth of her career. Her last six appearances have come as a pinch runner and she has scored a run in four of those games.

Liz Caputo was a perfect 6-for-6 in the double-header at Minnesota Apr. 3 to raise her season batting average to .356 (4th on team). She hit her third home run of the year in game one of the double-header to move into a third-place tie for home runs by a freshman at OSU. Her 16 RBI are tied for third-most on the team, with a team-best 12 of those coming with two outs. Caputo hit two home runs, one of which was a grand slam, Feb. 27 vs. Long Island to set an OSU freshman record with seven RBI.

Billie Jo Carder went 2-for-3 with an RBI in the second game against Minnesota Sunday and is hitting .333 on the season. Her seven doubles and 13 RBI this season are already more than her first two seasons combined. 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 went 5-for-7 with three RBI in the two games at Minnesota Sunday to raise her batting average to a team-best .472 (17-for-36) on the season. Seven times in her career has she collected three hits in a game, including twice in 2005. Cutcliff has started in the DP spot in four of OSU’s last five games. Her 11 career home runs are tied for sixth-most in OSU history.

Christina Douglas notched new career highs with four hits and two doubles in the first game of the Minnesota double-header Sunday. She has started in 25 of OSU’s 28 games this season, all at first base. Her eight doubles are tied for the team lead and her 24 RBI rank second. 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. Her six game hitting streak from Feb. 27 to March 6 was the best of her career.

Karisa Evans is batting .279 overall and raises that to .355 with runners on base. Her career batting average of .323 is ninth-best in school history. Evans has started in 25-of-28 games this season at three different positions.

Nicole Gragson pitched six solid innings against Iowa (now ranked No. 19) March 6 in the championship game of the Buzz Classic. Her six innings, as well as her four strikeouts, marked her career bests. She had her first collegiate win March 4 when she went four innings to beat SDSU.

Natalie Hales has a hit in six of her last ten games and hit her fourth career home run March 23 in OSU’s 6-1 win at Cal State Fullerton. Jennifer Johnson owns a team-best 51 fielding assists in 2005 and her 36 putouts rank fifth.

Stacy Hibma has three home runs in her last six games played. She blasted two home runs against Boston March 5, her career-best, then hit a three-run homer against Eastern Michigan March 18. Over spring break March 24-26 she batted .429 (3-for-7). Stephanie Hill has entered the game as a pinch runner 17 times this season, most on the team. She has scored 10 runs and has five stolen bases.

Jamee Juarez continues to add to her stellar numbers this season (see earlier note). In the circle, she sports a 14-7 record with 122 strikeouts and a 1.91 ERA. She won nine consecutive games from Feb. 27-March 24 and has started in the circle in eight of OSU’s last nine games. Her 240 career strikeouts are sixth all-time at OSU. At the plate, she 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). Overall this season, she is batting .394, third-best on the team. She has been named the Big Ten Player of the Week twice in 2005.

Nycole Koyano has started in 26 of Ohio State’s 28 games this season and has at least one hit in 19 of those games. She leads Ohio State in runs scored (25) and walks (24). Her .500 on base percentage is second on the team. Koyano hit her team-leading sixth triple of the season Apr. 3 at Minnesota, which is already tied for the third-most triples in a season in OSU history. Koyano was named to the all-tournament team of the Buckeye Invitational March 18-20 after batting .556 (5-for-9). Koyano set an OSU single-game record in the Buckeyes’ season-opening 8-0 win vs. Rutgers with two triples. She went 4-for-4 with three RBI in that game, both career-bests.

Nicole Lancaster had a career-best day March 5 against SDSU when she went 2-for-2 with two runs scored, an RBI and a double. She is batting .267 (4-for-15) this season. Meghan Rowlands had five hits in her first 12 at bats this season, including the game-winning RBI vs. Pittsburgh, Feb. 19. She went 2-for-3 against Eastern Michigan March 18 with a triple and an RBI and had her fourth two-hit game of the season March 24 at Loyola Marymount.

Megan Schwab is one of the Big Ten’s best hitters in 2005. Her .415 batting average, seven home runs, 30 RBI, .793 slugging percentage and eight doubles all rank among the league’s leaders, and her slugging percentage is tops. 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 (10) and multiple-RBI games (11). Twice this season she has hit two home runs in a game and she has already driven in more runs (30) and hit more homers (7) than she did in the 59 games she played in last season. 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 seven on the season. Brittany Vanderink is a perfect 9-for-9 in the stolen base department this season, which is best on the team and is tied for the fifth-most stolen bases ever at OSU for a freshman. She has made 11 starts this season and is batting .286, which jumps to .438 (7-for-16) with runners in scoring position. Vanderink’s three triples this season are tied for the second-most ever by a freshman at OSU and are one shy of the freshman record.

After sweeping Indiana and losing a pair to Purdue last weekend, Michigan State has an overall record of 9-18 and a 2-2 record in the Big Ten. Earlier in the season the Spartans had an impressive come-from-behind victory over No. 13 Florida at the UNLV Rebels Tournament. Michigan State is led by a trio of newcomers, freshmen twin sisters Traci and Nikki Nicosia and sophomore transfer Rachel Turney. Traci has a .273 batting average, which is third on the team, with team-bests 23 hits and 10 RBI. Nikki is leading the team in steals with seven, which are tied for 11th in the Big Ten. Turney leads the pitching staff with seven wins, a 1.82 ERA and 100 strikeouts. These three compliment 11 returning letterwinners and eight returning starters to a team that finished 36-26 a year ago, including 8-12 in the Big Ten and 1-1 against Ohio State. The Buckeyes hold a 46-37 lead in the all-time series against the Spartans, but Michigan State owns a narrow 11-10 lead during the past nine years.

OSU record vs. Michigan State, 1998-2004

Year Record 1998 1-2 1999 1-2 2000 1-1 2001 2-0 2002 2-0 2003 1-1 2004 1-1

Ohio State is coming off a 2-2 record on its six-day spring break tour through Southern California last week. Behind two home runs from Megan Schwab and a two-hitter from Jamee Juarez, the Buckeyes topped Cal State Fullerton, 6-1, March 23. A day later, Loyola Marymount forced OSU into five errors in game one of a double-header and three more in game two to sweep the Buckeyes, 3-2 and 11-10. Ohio State came back March 26 and shut out California-Riverside, 5-0, behind Schwab’s two doubles, a two-run homer from Christina Douglas and a nine-strikeout effort from Juarez.

Ohio State won all three of its games in the Buckeye Invitational last weekend to win the tournament and remain undefeated all-time in the four-year event with a 19-0 record. Outscoring their opponents 36-16 in the three games, the Buckeyes defeated Ball State and Eastern Michigan Friday before topping Marshall Sunday in the tournament’s title game.

Ohio State’s four sophomores were all named to the all-tournament team, including Christina Douglas, Nycole Koyano, Jamee Juarez and Megan Schwab. During the weekend, Douglas hit .500, Koyano hit .556, Juarez hit .556 and went 3-0 in the circle, and Schwab hit a tournament-best .700.

Ohio State sophomore Jamee Juarez has been named the Big Ten softball Player of the Week twice this season. Her second honor came March 21 following her being named to the Buckeye Invitational all-tournament team after batting .556 (5-for-9) and pitching the Buckeyes to all three of their wins. Juarez totaled 15.1 innings pitched in the tournament and struck out 21 hitters, upping her career total to 194 strikeouts. Juarez earned her first conference player of the week award Feb. 22 after batting .700 (7-for-10) at the FAU Doubletree Classic in Boca Raton Feb. 18-20. She fashioned a 2-1 record in the circle with a 0.78 ERA in 18 innings pitched with 18 strikeouts.

The Buckeyes went 6-1 record and were the tournament runners-up March 4-6 at the Buzz Classic hosted by Georgia Tech. In the four games of pool play, the Buckeyes outscored their opponents 32-13 and entered the single-elimination tournament undefeated at 4-0. Ohio State beat Mississippi State, 11-0, in the quarterfinals and then knocked off host and 19th-ranked Georgia Tech, 5-3 in the semifinals before falling to Iowa in the championship game. As a team, Ohio State batted .328 in the tournament, fourth best overall, and had a 2.64 team ERA, fifth best overall.

Among Ohio State’s offensive exploits and big wins at the Buzz Classic March 4-6, three individual performances warrant special recognition. Sophomores Jamee Juarez and Megan Schwab and junior Billie Jo Carder had outstanding weekends, helping the Buckeyes to a runner-up finishing at the event.

Schwab earned a spot on the all-tournament team after batting .435 (10-for-23) during the weekend with five home runs and 11 RBI. She hit two home runs against Mississippi State and the game-tying homer against No. 19 Georgia Tech. Juarez was perfect in the circle with a 4-0 record and 0.00 ERA in 24 innings pitched and held hitters to a .155 batting average. Carder batted .409 (9-for-22) with a grand slam against Mississippi State and finished the weekend with seven RBI.

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 281 victories in Columbus (281-202-0, .579), and her overall record stands at 554-317-2 (.636) 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! ###