April 10, 2006

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Coming off a 4-0 weekend in the Big Ten and riding a six game winning streak, the Ohio State softball team hosts Toledo at 5 p.m. Tuesday in a doubleheader at Buckeye Field. The Buckeyes (24-14, 6-2 Big Ten) are 9-0 at home this season and host Toledo (11-23, 2-5 Mid-American Conference) as part of OSU’s current homestand that includes 18 of 19 games at Buckeye Field.

GameTracker will have the games live at

The Buckeyes swept No. 15 Northwestern Sunday, marking Ohio State’s first sweep of a ranked team since 2002 when OSU won a school-record 55 games. Ohio State is 4-0 against the Mid-American Conference this season, with wins over Kent State, Central Michigan and Bowling Green (twice) at Buckeye Field. OSU has won eight straight against the Rockets.

Ohio State is off Friday and Saturday before returning to Big Ten play against Minnesota at noon Sunday for a double-header at Buckeye Field.

With two Big Ten sweeps last weekend, Ohio State swept back-to-back Big Ten opponents for the first time since 2002 when the Buckeyes swept six consecutive league opponents. It was also in 2002 that OSU last swept a ranked opponent (twice, vs. No. 25 Minnesota, at No. 20 Iowa).

Ohio State’s current six-game winning streak is one shy of its season-best (March 17-24). The Buckeyes’ longest winning streak the last two seasons has been seven in a row and in 2003 OSU won nine straight. The school record for longest winning streak is 18 (2002).

Ohio State is in a homestand that includes 18 of 19 games at home. The most recent similar homestand was in 2004 when the Buckeyes played a stretch of 16 of 18 games at home. The longest streak of consecutive home games occurred in 1994 when Ohio State played 20 straight home games, which was nearly topped in 1998 when OSU played 16 in a row at Buckeye Field.

Junior Megan Schwab was named the Big Ten Player of the Week Monday for the first time in her career. She batted .500 (7-for-14) last week in six games, all OSU wins, with a triple, home run, five RBI, eight runs scored and a .632 on base percentage. Schwab had at least one hit in all six games to extend her current hitting streak to a team-best eight games. Her home run came Sunday to help the Buckeyes sweep 15th-ranked Northwestern. A first-team all-region selection last year, Schwab is batting a team-best .364 this season, which ranks fifth in the Big Ten.

Ohio State has won six in a row and 15 of its last 19 games. Nine of those wins have come at Buckeye Field, where OSU was 13-4 last year. With a 6-2 Big Ten record, the Buckeyes sit in third place behind Michigan State (6-0) and Michigan (5-1). Northwestern, ranked No. 15 last week, is also 6-2 but was swept by the Buckeyes Sunday.

At Buckeye Field, Ohio State is batting .300 as a team, compared to .256 overall, and OSU pitchers have a 1.44 ERA at home (2.43 overall).

Junior Megan Schwab leads Ohio State with a .364 average, a .449 on-base percentage, a .573 slugging percentage and nine doubles. Freshman Courtney Pruner leads OSU with 21 RBI and five home runs, which are the second-most ever by a freshman at OSU. Senior Billie Carder (.264) owns 20 RBI and junior Nycole Koyano has stolen a team-high 19 bases.

The pitching staff includes junior Jamee Juarez (11-8, 2.90 ERA), freshman Kim Reeder (11-6, 1.78 ERA) and freshman Courtney Pruner (2-0, 3.40 ERA), who is coming off a win over Northwestern Sunday in her first start.

OSU returns 11 letterwinners and welcomes four newcomers in 2006 for head coach Linda Kalafatis, who is in her tenth season. The Buckeyes were 32-17 overall in 2005 and finished fourth in the Big Ten with a 9-7 league mark. OSU ranked among the NCAA’s Top 13 in six categories, including scoring (8th, 5.8 runs/game).

Ohio State sophomore Brittany Vanderink and Toledo junior pitcher Stephanie Moore went to Crestwood H.S. in northeast Ohio (Vanderink is from Hiram, Moore is from Ravenna). With Moore’s father as their coach, they led Crestwood to the 2003 Div. II state championship. Moore was the conference player of the year that season and a year later Vanderink was the Ohio Gatorade Player of the Year.

OSU senior Chelsea Baker and UT freshman Rachel Smith are both from nearby Gahanna, Ohio. Baker went to DeSales H.S., while Smith went to Gahanna Lincoln.

OSU has five players from California, four of which are from the Los Angeles area. Toledo has four California natives, all from the San Francisco area.

Since head coach Linda Kalafatis took over the Ohio State program for the 1997 season, the Buckeyes are 92-10 in non-conference home games at Buckeye Field. Among the best season records in non-conference home games, OSU was 14-2 in 2001 and 13-1 in both 2002 and 1998. The Buckeyes were 7-0 in non-league games at Buckeye Field last year, batting .389 as a team in those games and averaging 9.7 runs per game.

Ohio State is 13-1 all-time against Toledo and has won eight straight against the Rockets. OSU is 7-1 against UT at Buckeye Field, sweeping doubleheaders from the Rockets in 2003, 2001 and 1997 and splitting a two-game set in 1995.

Toledo (11-23, 2-5 MAC) is 1-4 against the Big Ten this year (losses to Michigan and Michigan State and split with Minnesota). Jo Ann Gordon is in her fourth season at Toledo (69-121) and has seven starters back from her 2005 team that went 26-29 overall and 5-16 in the Mid-American Conference. Gina Muratori leads the Rockets with a .370 average and 10 doubles, while Valerie Moxim owns a team-best eight home runs and 25 RBI. Pitchers Sierra Pereira (5-11, 5.13 ERA) and Stephanie Moore (6-12, 5.84 ERA) have combined to start UT’s 34 games so far this season.

The four current Ohio State seniors were freshman for the Buckeyes when OSU and Toledo last met April 9, 2003 in Columbus. All four, and current OSU assistant coach Kristi DeVries, had a role in the doubleheader sweep (8-0, 4-1). In game one, DeVries went 2-for-3 with a two-RBI double, which scored Nicole Lancaster, who was pinch-running. Billie Carder was 0-for-2 at the plate but had an assist and a putout in at shortstop.

In game two, Chelsea Baker pitched her second complete game of the season, striking out seven and scattering six hits with no earned runs. Stacy Hibma was 1-for-3 and scored a run, while Lancaster (LF) and Carder (3B) played defensively.

Ohio State went 6-0 last week in six close games at Buckeye Field. The week began with a doubleheader sweep (3-0, 4-1) of Bowling Green Wednesday. OSU scored all seven of its runs in the third inning of the two games. The Falcons (20-12) entered the games 11-2 in their last 13 games, with their only losses coming at then-No. 12 Michigan and Notre Dame.

After a two-hour rain delay Friday night, Ohio State saw Illinois score five runs in the first inning, but the Buckeyes came back for an 8-7 win. On Saturday OSU built a 5-0 lead and held off a late Illini rally to win 5-3. Against 15th-ranked Northwestern Sunday, Ohio State got a walk-off home run in the bottom of the seventh inning from senior Chelsea Baker to top the Wildcats 2-1, before freshman Courtney Pruner pitched a six-hit complete game in her first collegiate start to beat NU 3-2 in the night cap.

The Buckeyes are 20-0 when leading after four innings and 19-3 when scoring three or more runs. The Buckeyes had a season-high five sacrifice bunts in their 3-2 game-two win over Northwestern Sunday, which set up their game-tying and game-winning runs.

Megan Schwab enters the Toledo doubleheader with an eight-game hitting streak, the longest on the team this season and two shy of her career best. Her home run Sunday against Northwestern was the 14th of her career, which ties her for fourth all-time at OSU.

Chelsea Baker’s walk-off home run against Northwestern Sunday was the first for a Buckeye since April 21, 2002, when Chrissy Fowler’s solo blast beat Illinois 6-5 at Buckeye Field in a game that Ohio State trailed 5-0. The homer was the 11th of her career, which ties her for seventh all-time.

Courtney Pruner’s fifth home run of the season Sunday against Northwestern ranks her second all-time for homers in a season by a freshman. She earned the pitching win in both games Sunday vs. the 15th-ranked Wildcats for her first two wins of the season.

Billie Carder extended her hitting streak to a career-best seven games last weekend, during which time she hit .435 (10-for-23). Lauren Daykin has at least one hit in six of her last eight games and Brittany Vanderink is hitting .333 (10-for-30) in her last 10 games).

Junior Jamee Juarez had pitched four career one-hitters heading into the first game at Long Beach State March 24, during which she tossed her first career no-hitter. It was the first no-hitter thrown by an OSU pitcher since current assistant coach Kristi DeVries threw a five-inning perfect game against Wright State March 6, 2004. Juarez tied a Big Ten and Ohio State record Feb. 25 with three home runs in a 6-0 win over No. 22 Oregon in Palm Springs.

### GO BUCKS! ###