Feb. 5, 2007

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COLUMBUS, Ohio – The 2007 season begins Friday for the Ohio State softball team as the Buckeyes travel to Tempe, Ariz., for the Kajikawa Classic hosted by Arizona State. The three-day event will be played at the Tempe Sports Complex and ASU’s Farrington Stadium and includes 21 teams, 11 of which are ranked or receiving votes in the Softball preseason poll.

GameTracker will have all five games live at Links are found on the softball schedule page.

2007 Kajikawa Classic: Hosted by Arizona State, Feb. 9-11, Tempe, Ariz.
Game Locations: ASU Farrington Stadium and the Tempe Sports Complex (four fields); Web site:
Tournament info:
Tournament Field: Arizona, Arizona State, Cal State Fullerton, Cal State Northridge, Florida, Fresno State, Long Beach State, Nevada, New Mexico, Northwestern, Northwestern State, Oregon, Stanford, Syracuse, Texas, Texas A&M, Texas Tech, UCLA, Utah, Western Michigan, Wisconsin

Ohio State, with eight starters back from its 2006 team that won 39 games and was selected for the NCAA tournament, plays its first four games at the Tempe Sports Complex against New Mexico (1 p.m. MT) and No. 1 and defending national champion Arizona (5:30 p.m. MT) Friday and Cal State Northridge (11 a.m. MT) and Texas Tech (3:30 p.m. MT) Saturday. The Buckeyes conclude the weekend in Farrington Stadium against host and No. 5 Arizona State at 11 a.m. (MT) Sunday.

Of Ohio State’s first 10 opponents this spring, six appear in the preseason national Top 25. When the Buckeyes take on Arizona Friday night, they will be facing the team that knocked them out of the NCAA tournament last May.

“The team is eagerly anticipating opening day” Linda Kalafatis, Ohio State head coach, said. “There gets to a point you just want to play against someone else and see how you stack up and we’re getting close to that point. We’re excited to be starting off the season with a couple of the best tournaments in all of college softball. That’s part of the reason why kids come to Ohio State, to play the best schedule possible and be the best they can be.

“We’ll go up against some excellent opponents and we know we have to be sharp right away, but at the same time we know we’re still a work in progress. I know we’ll compete hard and be as prepared as we can be as we head outdoors. We’ve got a couple bumps and bruises and sore spots, but physically we’re as healthy as we’ve been all year and our Buckeyes will be ready to play ball.”

After the Kajikawa Classic, Ohio State has a week off before heading west again for the Palm Springs Classic Feb. 23-25 in Cathedral City, Calif., where the Buckeyes will face Brigham Young, No. 20 Fresno State, No. 18 Texas, No. 10 California and No. 16 Oklahoma.

Hosted by Arizona State, the Kajikawa Classic is the season-opening tournament for 21 teams from around the nation and will be played jointly at ASU’s Farrington Stadium and the four-field Tempe Sports Complex. The tournament schedule is a preset five-game format with no championship bracket.

For tournament information, including driving directions and the complete schedule, log on to For live statistics of all Ohio State games, visit the softball schedule page at Tournament all-session passes are available for $25 from the Ohio State ticket office by calling 1-800-GO-BUCKS.

The Buckeyes have 10 letterwinners and eight starters back from their 2006 squad that went 39-23 and 11-7 in the Big Ten, good for the team’s second-consecutive fourth-place finish in the league. Ohio State has led the Big Ten in batting the last two years.

All three pitchers return in 2007, including senior Jamee Juarez (17-11) and sophomores Kim Reeder (16-11) and Courtney Pruner (6-1). Starters returning in the field include Juarez (P/3b, 2nd-team All-Big Ten), Lauren Daykin (c), captain Christina Douglas (1b), Nycole Koyano (2b, 2nd-team All-Big Ten/Region), Megan Schwab (lf, 2nd-team All-Big Ten/Region), Liz Caputo (cf) and Brittany Vanderink (rf, 1st-team All-Big Ten/Region), while Pruner returns at designated player.

Head coach Linda Kalafatis is in her 11th year at Ohio State and is one of three coaches in the Big Ten with more than 600 wins. Since 2000, the Buckeyes are 266-146 for a .640 winning percentage, which ranks third in the Big Ten during that time.

As usual, Ohio State travels west and south often in the early weeks of the season. Following the Kajikawa Classic this weekend, the Buckeyes travel to the Palm Springs Classic Feb. 23-25 in Cathedral City, Calif., the UAB Magic City Classic March 3-4 in Birmingham, Ala. and the South Florida-adidas Invitational March 8-11 in Clearwater, Fla. Ohio State then hosts the Buckeye Invitational March 17-18 before departing for a six-day, six-game trip in the Los Angeles area during spring break.

Ohio State is led by a five-member senior class – four of which were freshmen when the Buckeyes last competed in Tempe. Seniors Christina Douglas, Jamee Juarez, Nycole Koyano and Megan Schwab all had their collegiate debuts at the 2004 ASU Fiesta Bowl Tournament, where the Buckeyes went 3-2 with wins over Cal State Northridge, No. 20 Oregon and No. 19 Arizona State. Schwab hit the game-winning home run in the top of the seventh inning to beat Oregon and Juarez, on her birthday, hit a grand slam and tossed a six-hitter to beat ASU.

Ohio State’s Christina Douglas (Mesa, Ariz.) and Megan Schwab (Glendale, Ariz.) will begin their senior seasons in their hometown of Phoenix. In addition, eight Buckeyes are from California, including seven from the Los Angeles area, which is about a five-hour drive from Phoenix.

In her first tournament as a collegiate coach, first-year Ohio State assistant Erica Beach will face her alma mater, Arizona State (1999-2002), Sunday morning. Beach was an All-American pitcher for the Sun Devils.

When the Buckeyes face Arizona Friday night, it will mark a reunion for several travel ball teammates. OSU’s Christina Douglas played with Arizona 2B Chelsea Mesa, OSU’s Megan Schwab played with Arizona RF Adrienne Acton and OSU’s Liz Caputo played with Arizona CF Caitlin Lowe. Schwab, along with Arizona’s Stacie Chambers and Laine Rothe, are all from Glendale, Ariz.

Saturday morning’s game between the Buckeyes and Cal State Northridge will rejoin former travel ball teammates Megan Miller and Sam Marder of Ohio State and Jackie Duree, Selena Salazar, Kelly Zakosek and Amanda Peek of CSUN. Schwab and Duree are both from Glendale, Ariz.

Ohio State’s Nycole Koyano played travel ball with Texas Tech’s 3B Natalie Kula, while OSU’s Liz Caputo and Tech SS Amanda Myers were teammates at Riverside Poly H.S. in Riverside, Calif.

In the tournament finale Sunday morning, Caputo will go up against another high school teammate, Arizona State’s Mindy Cowles. Schwab played travel ball with Cowles, ASU OF Jackie Vasquez and 3B Bianca Cruz. OSU’s Kim Reeder played travel ball with Cowles and infielder Caylyn Carlson.

New Mexico has eight starters back from its 2006 squad that went 23-31 overall and 4-16 in the Mountain West Conference. Led by first-year head coach Ty Singleton, the Lobos were picked sixth the MWC preseason poll and feature left-handed, 6-foot junior first baseman Lindsey Elcess, who was a second-team all-region selection last season (.381, 10 HR, 45 RBI).

Seven-time and defending national champion Arizona opens the 2007 season ranked No. 1 in the preseason national poll. The Wildcats said goodbye to All-American pitcher Alicia Hollowell, but 22nd-year head coach Mike Candrea, who also coached the U.S. Olympic team, welcomes back eight starters. Four Arizona players are on the preseason player of the year watch list, including Callista Balko (c), Kristie Fox (ss), Caitlin Lowe (of) and Taryne Mowatt (p/ut).

Cal State Northridge went 22-20 last season and 8-10 in the Big West Conference. Eight letterwinners are back for sixth-year head coach Barbara Jordan, who helped coach the USA Softball Junior National Team to a gold medal in the 2006 Junior Women’s Pan American Championships in Puerto Rico Nov. 10-18. Sophomore Amanda Peek (.408, 13 HR, 27 RBI, 14 2B) was the Big West Freshman of the Year in 2006.

All nine starters and 17 letterwinners are back for Texas Tech, which went 19-35 last year and 4-13 in the Big 12. Head coach Teresa Wilson enters the season with 778 career wins and is in her third year rebuilding the Red Raiders. Senior leadoff hitter and center fielder Ashley Parker (.279) ranked third in the nation in stolen bases last year with 34.

Tournament host and fifth-ranked Arizona State returns seven starters from its 2006 team that went 53-15 and carried the No. 6 seed into the Women’s College World Series, where the Sun Devils went 1-2. Led by second-year head coach Clint Myers and sophomore Kaitlin Cochran, who is on the preseason player of the year watch list, ASU was picked third in the Pac-10 preseason coaches poll behind Arizona and UCLA.

Ohio State is 0-2 all-time against New Mexico but has not faced the Lobos since a 4-3 loss in 1997 at the Troy Cox Memorial Tournament in Las Cruces, N.M.

Arizona leads the all-time series against Ohio State, 11-2, which includes a pair of wins over the Buckeyes last year (5-1 Feb. 25 in Palm Springs, Calif., and 6-3 May 18 in Tucson, N.M., NCAA tournament). The Buckeyes’ last win over Wildcats came in Tempe, Ariz., in 1996, when OSU knocked off then-No. 2 Arizona 4-0.

The Buckeyes are 3-9 all-time against Cal State Northridge, with their last two meetings coming in 2004. That year, Ohio State’s first win of the season came against Northridge, a 2-1 victory in Tempe, Ariz., but the Matadors then handed the Buckeyes a 4-2 loss in the NCAA Tallahassee Regional to end Ohio State’s season.

Ohio State and Texas Tech are meeting for the first time.

Ohio State is 3-8 all-time against Arizona State, but is 2-2 against the Wildcats in the last four meetings. In their last meeting, the Buckeyes topped ASU 6-3 in Tempe in 2004. 10 of the 11 games in the OSU-ASU series have been played in Arizona.

When Ohio State meets Arizona Friday night, it will mark the Buckeyes’ 10th game in program history against the defending national champion. Ohio State is 1-8 in those games, with the sole win coming in 2003 when the Buckeyes beat 2002 champ California, 1-0, at the Cal State Fullerton Worth Invitational. Previous national champions the Buckeyes have faced the following season include UCLA (1990, 1995), Arizona (1991, 1993, 1996) and Michigan (2005).

Ohio State has won its last two season-openers and five of its last seven. In their last seven season-opening tournaments, the Buckeyes are 23-12. Last year at the Hilton Las Cruces (N.M.) Invitational, Ohio State won its first four games of the season for the first time in program history.

HEAD COACH Linda Kalafatis
Head coach Linda Kalafatis is in her 11th season at Ohio State and in her 19th season as a collegiate head coach. She is OSU’s all-time wins leader (334-232, .590) and is one of three Big Ten coaches with more than 600 career wins (607-347-2, .634). Six times the Buckeyes have won at least 30 games under Kalafatis, who has guided OSU to the NCAA tournament three times (2002, 2004, 2006). She is assisted by former collegiate All-Americans Ali Viola (Nebraska) and Erica Beach (Arizona State).

Senior Nycole Koyano enters the 2007 season with 87 career walks, which are 31 shy of the Ohio State record. She ranks third all-time in stolen bases (58) and fourth all-time in runs scored with 58. If Koyano leads the Buckeyes in runs this season, she will be the first to do that all four years. Senior Jamee Juarez ranks tied for third all-time in career RBI (96) and is ranked in the Top 5 in four career pitching statistics, including innings pitched (No. 5, 560.2), wins (No. 3, 55), strikeouts (No. 3, 507) and shutouts (No. 2, 19).

### GO BUCKS! ###