COLUMBUS, Ohio The No. 23 nationally-ranked Ohio State softball team has tied the best 10-game start in program history, going 9-1 through the first two weeks of the season, and will look to continue its winning ways this weekend at the Cathedral City Classic near Palm Springs, Calif. The Buckeyes open play at 5:30 p.m. Friday against No. 17/19 Nevada in one of the most prestigious early season tournaments. They will continue with games at 3 p.m. and 8:30 p.m. Saturday against Hawai’i and Loyola Marymount, respectively, before closing action Sunday vs. No. 7/3 Washington at noon and UC Santa Barbara at 2 p.m. All times are pacific.
 Ohio State is 3-0 vs. ranked teams this season after knocking off then-No. 5 Texas A&M twice and No. 21 LSU last weekend at the Easton Tiger Classic in Baton Rouge, La. The Buckeyes also defeated Sam Houston State twice to go 5-0 on the weekend. Senior pitcher Kim Reeder won USA Softball National Player of the Week honors after earning three wins on the weekend and shutting out both the Tigers and Aggies.

The 32-team tournament field showcases some of the most prestigious softball programs in the country, with 20 of the 32 2008 NCAA Tournament teams including four of the eight teams that competed in the 2008 Women’s College World Series, Alabama, Florida, UCLA and the 2008 National Champions – the Arizona State Sun Devils. The tournament also features 22 NFCA All-Americans. The Top 4 teams in each of the preseason polls are participating in Florida, Arizona State, Alabama and UCLA. Nine other ranked teams are participating.
     The complete game schedule can be found on the official tournament Web site:

Date     Opponent                 Time (PT)     Field
Feb. 20 Nevada                       5:30 p.m.        Pawtucket
Feb. 21 Hawai’i                        3 p.m.             Pawtucket
Feb. 21 Loyola Marymount      8:30 p.m.        Des Moines
Feb. 22 Washington                Noon               Wrigley
Feb. 22 UC Santa Barbara       2 p.m.            Wrigley

Live stats: Live stats for all five of the Buckeyes’ games at the Cathedral City Classic will be linked from the softball schedule page on
Blog: Follow the team’s travels with different players this season via their “On the Road with the Buckeyes” blog. Kim Reeder started off the season by blogging through the New Mexico State trip before handing over the reins to Whitney Cooper in Baton Rouge. Tory Haddad is scheduled to take over the typing this weekend from the Cathedral City Classic.

The Buckeyes return to the national rankings this week after an 11-week absence, coming in at No. 23 in the Softball poll. Ohio State spent the first six weeks of the 2008 season in the Top 25 before dropping out in the March 10 edition. The Scarlet and Gray is 69-40 all-time when ranked in either the ESPN or NFCA polls.

The Buckeyes are making their fifth-consecutive trip to the Cathedral City Classic, formerly named the Palm Springs Classic. They hold an 8-12 record at the tournament after going 1-4 in 2005 and 2006 and 3-2 through action in each of the last two seasons. Last year, the then-No. 18 Ohio State team opened play with back-to-back wins over Fresno State and 23rd-ranked CS Fullerton before falling to 12th-ranked Stanford and host Oregon State. The Buckeyes rebounded and closed out the tournament by defeating Fordham.

This weekend marks a homecoming for eight members of the Buckeye softball team as they return to their home state: Whitney Cooper (Barstow), Brittany Goodchild (West Hills), Alicia Herron (Cypress), Sam Marder (Calabasas), Megan Miller (Woodland Hills), Kim Reeder (Salinas), Rebecca Schultz (Mission Viejo) and Vanessa Spears (Brea).

The Buckeyes will spend the first five weekends of the 2009 season on the road making treks to Las Cruces, N.M., Baton Rouge, La., Palm Springs, Calif., Columbus, Ga. and Louisville, Ky. With roughly 2,555 miles behind them, the Buckeyes have 8,613 more to go before the end of tourney play. The team will travel a total of 11,168 miles during this tournament season, with at least one stop in each of the four continental time zones.

On Feb. 17, Kim Reeder became the first Buckeye to be named the USA Softball Collegiate National Player of the Week. The senior captain helped lead the Buckeyes to a five-game sweep of the Easton Tiger Classic in Baton Rouge, La., last weekend.  Named the tournament MVP, she compiled a 3-0 record in the circle with wins against a then No. 13 Texas A&M and No. 20 LSU.
     Against LSU, the right-handed hurler tallied a 2-0 shutout victory with seven strikeouts allowing just two hits before defeating Sam Houston State in four innings with a 6-3 victory.  Against the Texas A&M Aggies Sunday, Reeder struck out 11 batters and allowed just two hits. In four games of action, Reeder gave up just one run on eight hits for a 0.38 ERA through the weekend.

The Buckeyes tied the best 10-game start in the program’s history by going 9-1 through the first two weeks of action. They have out-scored opponents 68-17 in this stretch and hit a Big Ten-leading 15 homeruns with a .303 team batting average. Four players are batting over .400, including Sam Marder, a preseason candidate for the USA Softball Player of the Year award, with a .414 average. She also leads the homerun charge with five, giving her 29 for her career to move into a tie for second place on the career charts with Stacy Roth. Marder is now 12 homeruns away from matching the record 41 set by Kristine Himes in 2000-03.
     The Ohio State pitching staff has an ERA of 1.20, while its opponents are hitting just .192. Kim Reeder (4-1) has a team-best 0.73 ERA and 36 strikeouts to her credit, while Lindsay Bodeker (4-0) holds a 1.44 ERA with 30 K’s. Megan Miller (1-0) rounds out the veteran pitching staff.
 Marder, a junior All-American, and Reeder headline the list of returnees, along with junior infielder Whitney Cooper. The Buckeyes also welcome back 2007 first-team All-Big Ten first baseman Courtney Pruner, who redshirted last season while recovering from injury. The Buckeyes were 33-23 last season. 
     Nine current players saw action during the 2007 season and the Buckeyes’ run for the Big Ten regular season and tournament titles. A couple years older and wiser, this veteran core is expected to lead Ohio State in its quest to return to the top of the conference and region.
The Ohio State softball team has selected a quartet of captains for the 2009 season announced head coach Linda Kalafatis. Senior Kim Reeder, along with juniors Whitney Cooper, Sam Marder and Courtney Pruner will guide the Buckeyes in the upcoming year.
     “These four young women will do an excellent job of leading our team with their work ethic, attitude and performance on the field,” Kalafatis said. “They are great people with strong values.”

Junior All-America catcher Sam Marder was selected by the Amateur Softball Association of America (ASA), the National Governing Body of Softball in the United States, to its initial 50-player “Watch List” for the Eighth Annual USA Softball National Collegiate Player of the Year Award. This award, considered the most prestigious honor in Division I women’s collegiate softball, is designed to recognize outstanding athletic achievement by female collegiate softball players across the country. A list of 25 finalists will be announced April 1. A finalist for the same award last year, Marder is one of six Big Ten players and five catchers to be named to the Watch List this year.

On the OSU career home run list, junior Sam Marder tied for second with 29 and junior Courtney Pruner, who missed all of last season with an injury, is tied for sixth with 15. Marder also ranks second with 106 walks and fifth with 115 RBI. In the circle, senior Kim Reeder ranks fourth in wins (55) and strikeouts (527) and sixth in innings pitched (593).
     Current student assistant coach Brittany Vanderink finished her career last season fourth all-time at Ohio State in stolen bases (63) and was tied for fifth in career batting average (.347), tied for fourth in triples (11), fifth in runs scored (127) and fifth in hits (219).

As a team, Ohio State leads the Big Ten in hits (80), RBI (58), doubles (17) and runs scored (68) nine more than the next closest school, Northwestern. Buckeyes control several individual categories as well, led by Sam Marder’s five homeruns and 28 total bases and Courtney Pruner’s four doubles.

Ohio State has won its last five season-openers and eight of its last 10. In their last 10 season-opening tournaments, the Buckeyes are 34-16. This season, the Buckeyes opened at the Hotel Encanto Invitational in Las Cruces, N.M., where they picked up four-consecutive wins, including the opener against Cleveland State, before dropping their last game of the tournament to host New Mexico State.

Cathedral City Classic opponents: UC Santa Barbara, Hawai’i, Loyola Marymount, Nevada and Washington

SCOUTING UCSB: The Gauchos are 5-4 on the season after starting the year with four-consecutive wins at the Kajikawa Classic and then dropping 4-of-5 at the Campbell/Cartier Classic in San Diego, Calif. They are 0-3 against ranked teams this season, falling to No. 8 Stanford, No. 10 Washington and No. 24 San Diego State. UCSB has three players batting above .350, led by Christine Ramos at .406 with a team-leading 13 hits all singles, and Keilani Jennings, who leads the team in homeruns (4) and RBI (10) with a .391 average. Five pitchers have seen time in the circle this season with Krista Cobb (2-2) throwing a team-high 21 innings with a 3.00 ERA.
 Series History: UCSB leads the all-time series, 1-0. The teams met Feb. 24, 2006, at the Palm Springs Classic with the Gauchos winning 10-1. Then-freshman Courtney Pruner hit a solo homerun in the second inning to account for the Buckeyes’ lone run of the game.

SCOUTING HAWAI’I: The Rainbow Wahine is 2-8 and looking to bounce back after a 1-4 showing at the Louisville Slugger Desert Classic in Las Vegas, Nev. Hawai’i defeated Saint Louis, but fell to No. 13 Northwestern, Kentucky, Oregon and UC Davis. Senior outfielder Tanisha Milca led the offensive charge last weekend with a .615 average (8-for-13) with three runs scored and two home runs. The ‘Bows pitching staff is led by senior Courtney Baughman, who is 2-4 with a 4.20 ERA. In six starts, Baughman has thrown 35.0 innings walking eight and striking out 23.
 Series History: The Buckeyes trail in the series, 1-3, with the last two meetings taking place March 22 and 23, 2003, in Honolulu. They split two games then with OSU winning the first, 4-0 and UH taking the second 10-4.

SCOUTING LOYOLA MARYMOUNT:  LMU is 6-4 on the season after going 3-2 at its own Invitational last weekend. Chelsie Tysdale leads the Lions’ offensive output with a team-high four homeruns, 10 RBI and a .828 slugging percentage. Melissa Dykema and Corie Goodman have split time in the circle, with Goodman (3-3) throwing the bulk of the time at 36.2 innings in nine appearances with a 4.58 ERA. Dykema (3-1) has a 3.68 ERA in seven appearances.
 Series History: LMU holds a narrow 4-3 lead in the series after the teams split two meetings March 21, 2007. The Buckeyes fell 3-2 in the first contest before winning the second, 4-1. Courtney Pruner, Sam Marder and Rebecca Schultz are the only current Buckeyes to see action in those contests.

SCOUTING NEVADA: No. 17/19 Nevada is 7-2 on the season after a 4-1 performance last weekend at the Louisville Slugger Desert Classic hosted by UNLV. The Wolf Pack defeated Utah, Southern Utah, Portland State and UNLV at the tournament and fell 3-2 to Louisville, which is ranked in both of this week’s polls. Second baseman Kym Silagyi is now Nevada’s all-time hits leader with 181, surpassing Brittany Lorenzen (2003-06) with an infield single against Louisville. Junior pitcher Katie Holverson is the reigning WAC Pitcher of the Week after going 2-1 with a 0.00 ERA and striking out 16 in 17 innings
 Series History: Ohio State has a perfect 4-0 record vs. Nevada after defeating the Wolf Pack, 3-2, last season at the Capital Classic in San Francisco, Calif. Brittany Goodchild and Dee Dee Hillman each scored runs in the win.

SCOUTING WASHINGTON: The No. 7/3 Huskies are 9-0 on the season after sweeping the Red Desert Classic and Campbell Cartier Classic. They have outscored opponents, 64-10, winning two contests by run-rule in five innings. Offensively, Washington is hitting .333 as a team while averaging more than seven runs per game. Ashley Charters leads the way with a .458 average and she is one of three Huskies who have produced seven RBI this season. Charters also boasts 11 runs, eight walks and six stolen bases, all team highs.
 In the circle, the Huskies are led by All-American Danielle Lawrie,who pitched for Team Canada in the 2008 Beijing Olympics. She is already 6-0 on the year with a 0.35 ERA. She has struck out 64 in 40.1 innings, while opponents are hitting just .096 against her and have only drawn five walks
 Series History: The Buckeyes trail 8-2 in the all-time series with the Huskies, though the teams have not met since the 2005 season. The Buckeyes dropped that contest, 9-2, last winning vs. Washington in the 2002 NCAA Regional in Ann Arbor, Mich., 2-1.

Home plate remains where it has rested at Buckeye Field since 1988, but little else remains the same for the Ohio State softball complex after $5.9 million of stadium renovations. The 2009 season marks the first in the new 1,500-seat Buckeye Field a facility that is undoubtedly among the finest in the country. In addition to more than doubling Buckeye Field’s previous capacity of 800, the new stadium includes indoor and outdoor batting cages, a three-plate bullpen, a 650-square foot press box, player clubhouse and lounge, new dugouts, coaches and umpires dressing room and concession areas.

Head coach Linda Kalafatis is in her 13th season at Ohio State in 2009 and her 21st season as a collegiate head coach. Kalafatis, who twice has been named the Big Ten Coach of the Year (2002, 2007), is Ohio State’s all-time wins leader (416-274) and is one of three Big Ten coaches with more than 650 career wins (687-387-2).
     Eight times the Buckeyes have won at least 30 games under Kalafatis, who guided Ohio State to the NCAA tournament four times (2002, 2004, 2006, 2007). She is assisted by former collegiate All-Americans Ali Viola (Nebraska) and Erica Beach (Arizona State).

Redshirt junior Courtney Pruner returns to the Buckeyes after sitting out the entire 2008 season while recovering from hip surgery. As a sophomore in 2007, she was a first-team All-Big Ten selection after batting .336 with seven home runs and 37 RBI. With 14 career home runs, she maintains a tie for seventh place all-time in the OSU records books after just two seasons of action.

Ohio State has won at least 30 games each of the last five seasons, the longest 30-win streak in program history. In 2008, the Buckeyes went 33-23 overall.

Ohio State won its last five home games last season but went 10-12 at Buckeye Field overall for just the second losing record there since the facility opened in 1988. Ohio State was 21-2 at home in both 2007 and 2006. 
     Against Marshall April 2, the Buckeyes saw their 32-game winning streak in regular-season home nonconference games come to an end with an 11-0 loss in game one of a doubleheader. When Marshall won game two, 6-1, it marked the first time since April 29, 1992, that Ohio State was swept in a home nonconference doubleheader. 
     Ohio State is now 325-135 (.705) all-time at Buckeye Field since the facility opened in 1988. That mark includes a 127-106 (.545) record in Big Ten games and a 188-29 (.865) record in non-league games.