Clearing the Bases
March 13, 2007
The long ball freshman picked up her first Big Ten Player of the Week honor of her career on March 12, a sure sign of things ahead for this young catcher. The Calabasas, Calif., native has started all 22 games so far for the Buckeyes, sharing equal time with senior catcher Lauren Daykin. When not catching, Marder can be found in the three or four spot in the line-up as the designed player. Marder leads the team with a .364 batting average that includes a team high seven homeruns.
With her first conference season coming up, the long ball freshman from Ohio State talks with the Big Ten about her decision to become a Buckeye, her mindset in the batter's box, managing four different pitcher personalities and compares Midwestern hospitality to Los Angeles.
As a California native, what made you want to come to Columbus, Ohio?
I knew from the beginning that I wanted to go to a school that really emphasized its athletics. I knew I wanted to be apart of a really big sports conference. A lot of people ask me that questions because their lot of great teams in California, but I didn't want to go to a small school. My grandpa went to Ohio State so I knew all about the tradition and its athletics. I came out for a visit and fell in love with the school.
Do you think with the recent success of the Big Ten and Midwestern schools like Tennessee more California kids are looking out of state?
Yes, definitely. For a while the Pac-10 dominated softball so I think that a lot of high school girls thought that if they wanted to go to the College World Series they had to stay in the Pac-10. But now that Midwestern teams have paved the way the reputation has changed. Recently teams such as Michigan, Northwestern and Tennessee are pushing a really big change in softball right now which made me feel comfortable going outside of California to play.
In your first collegiate weekend you hit three home runs including a grand slam against New Mexico to win the game. You have tacked on four more long balls to lead the team with seven as a freshman. What is your mindset when you step into the batters box?
My dad always made fun of me of how simple a hitter I am. I just think `See ball. Hit ball.' Even some of my teammates scream that to me while I am hitting because when I start thinking too much that's when I get in trouble. So I basically try not to think about anything.
When you aren't hitting home runs you are either pitched around or hit. Does that frustrate you at all?
It's kind of funny how many times I have gotten walked or hit this year already. It's not really frustrating because a walk obviously helps my team out by getting another person on base so I can't be frustrated about that. I was kind of surprised by how many times I was walking. I didn't really know if I was being really being patient at the plate or if I wasn't getting anything to hit, but it's flattering in a way because it shows that they are respecting me as a hitter. I love hitting, so I like to swing away when I can, but that doesn't mean I'm going to start chasing pitches if they aren't going to give me anything hit. I'm going to try to get on base any way I can to help my team.
You split time evenly with senior catcher Lauren Daykin, but when you're not catching your always in the line-up as a designed player. Do you find a difference between coming off the bench to hit and being a position player?
I don't think it is difficult for me. Sometimes it is nice because all I have to think about is hitting. I don't consider it any harder than coming off the bench as a pinch hitter when you might be really sitting all day. I don't find it any different from when I'm out on the field.
Freshman pitcher Megan Miller and you were on the same Valley Breeze Gold team in the summer. How long have you known Miller? Is it nice to have a friendly face in Ohio?
I have known Megan since I was 12 years old. Megan is an amazing pitcher so even when she wasn't on my team I knew who she was. We have been playing on the same team since we were 15. It's kind of funny because we had played with each other for so long and then we ended up at the same college. It's been awesome to be able to play with her and in a catcher's perspective it's nice to catch the pitcher that you know the most. It's really nice to have your best friend with you when you're so far away from home.
Four pitchers on the team mean four different personalities to manage as a catcher. Can you describe each pitcher's personalities?
First of all I love all of our pitchers. All of them are so different and Daykin and I joke around with each other and can mimic each pitcher's different style.
Courtney Pruner is a competitor. She is probably the most competitive person I have ever met. It doesn't matter what she is doing. For instance, just today we were kicking a rock around and she was intent on kicking it farther than me which I love about her because she wants to win more than anyone.
Kim Reeder is this bright blond but really smart. She is spunky and such a hard worker.
Jamee Juarez is our senior pitcher so she is the anchor pitcher. She has all the experience and keeps the rotation in line. As a senior, she is determined to end on a good note. Jamie is really supportive of me when I catch.
Megan Miller is fierce and doesn't use any excuses. She will fault herself before anyone else because she demands so much from herself.
What do you think about your preseason opponents thus far and how the Buckeyes have fared?
We have had some really good games, but it has been a bit frustrating because we have been little inconsistent. We are a young team with eight freshmen, but I don't want that to be our excuse. We are just in that period where we are trying to mesh. Our senior class has done a really good job of making us feel apart of the team and welcome as well as trying to show us the ropes. The best thing we are doing is not letting down. We don't really care who we play, but that we are just going to go out there and play to the best of our ability. We are a very competitive team and we want to win and it doesn't matter who we play.
What do you expect from the upcoming conference season in terms of the level of competition?
I'm looking forward for the conference season to start because you get to represent your school within the Big Ten with pride. Within the Big Ten, we have really good teams that want to compete for a Big Ten championship and want to go to the College World Series and you have to respect that strength. However, when it comes down to it, softball is softball. I never really played any differently when I played a certain team and I think our team does a good job not to let that pressure get to us and will be focused on playing our game.
What is one thing that has surprised you about the Midwest?
Most people will comment on the weather but I don't mind it. I still haven't gotten over the snow, I think it is amazing. I think the biggest difference is how welcoming and how warm the people are here. I cannot tell you how nice everyone here is. Even strangers are nice to you and open doors for you and don't run you over in the street.
Why did you pick the number 13?
Actually, my birthday is on Friday the 13th. I've had the number 13 all my life and I thought it was always really cool that 13 was considered a bad luck number, but I always thought that I am going to wear this number and its going to be bad luck for the other team.