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COLUMBUS, Ohio – The Ohio State softball team will make its 12th NCAA Tournament appearances – and fifth in the last six tournaments – on Friday afternoon when it opens play at the Knoxville Regional against Oregon State at 4 p.m. All action this weekend for the Buckeyes in the double-elimination regional will take place and Sherri Parker Lee Stadium in Knoxville.
Ohio State vs. Oregon State // Friday, May 20 // 4 p.m. // Sherri Parker Lee Stadium; Knoxville, Tenn.
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Briefly on the Buckeyes
- Ohio State enters the Knoxville Regional with a 35-15 overall record. The Buckeyes were 13-9 in Big Ten play and advanced to the conference tournament semifinals last week in East Lansing, Mich.
- Ohio State finished in the top half statistically in the conference in both batting average (fourth, .294) and earned run average (seventh, 2.83).
- The Buckeyes also possess good power numbers: their 47 home runs were fifth-best in the Big Ten and their .466 slugging percentage was also fifth.
- Leading the way in the power category is junior Sam Hackenbracht, who has 14 long balls this season and 26 over the last two years.
- Hackenbracht has also driven in a team-high 48 runs.
- Fifth-year senior Niki Carver is having the best statistical season of her career, checking in with a .350 batting average, 32 RBI, 30 runs scored and a .494 on-base percentage.
- Three other everyday starters – sophomore McKenzie Bump (.330, eight doubles, 25 RBI), Jaycee Ruberti (.309, team-high 36 runs scored) and freshman Melina Wilkison (.331, 10 doubles, 32 runs scored) – are batting .300 or better.
- In the circle, graduate student Lexie Handley is Ohio State’s first 22-game winner in 13 years and ranks third in the Big Ten with 259 strikeouts.
- Sophomores Allison Smith (8-4, 3.68 ERA) and Emily Ruck (5-2, 3.09 ERA) have handled the rest of Ohio State’s innings in the circle.
We’re Back … Again
- Under head coach Kelly Kovach Schoenly, Ohio State will be making its fifth overall NCAA regional appearance.
- The Buckeyes had previous trips in 2016, 2017, 2018 and 2019.
- There was no NCAA Tournament in 2020 due to the COVID-19 pandemic and last season, conference teams played Big Ten games only.
- Ohio State’s run of five appearances in the last six tournaments is the best in program history.
- Overall, the Buckeyes have played in 11 previous NCAA Tournaments: 1990, 2002, 2004, 2006, 2007, 2009, 2010, 2016, 2017, 2018 and 2019.
- This will be Ohio State’s fourth trip to Knoxville for NCAA Regionals in their last five appearances.
Breaking Down the Knoxville Regional
- Ohio State is the No. 2 seed in the Knoxville Regional while Oregon State (33-19) is the third seed.
- No. 11 national seed Tennessee and Big South champion Campbell (37-17) play in the other game on Friday at 6 p.m.
- The winners on Friday’s game will play at noon on Saturday. The losers will face each other at 2:30 in an elimination game.
- The winner of the elimination game will play the loser of the noon game on Saturday at 5 p.m.
- On Sunday, the winner of the regional’s third game and fifth game play at 2 p.m. and if necessary and winner-take-all regional final will be played at 4:30 p.m. on Sunday.
- The winner of the Knoxville Regional will move on to the best-of-three NCAA Super Regional against the winner of the Tuscaloosa Regional.
Scouting Oregon State
- The Beavers enter postseason play with 33-19 overall record and 9-15 mark in Pac-12 play.
- The postseason appearance for the Beavers is the fifth time under head coach Laura Berg while OSU collected the most wins during a single season since 2013.
- Five players were selected to the All-Pac-12 teams last week, led first-teamers Mariah Mazon and Frankie Hammoude.
- Ohio State and Oregon State and played seven times previously, most recently in 2020.
- In fact, the two games vs. the Beavers were two of the final games before COVID-19 shut down the remainder of the season.
- The Buckeyes won the first matchup in 2020, 3-0, and lost the second, 7-3.
- Both games were at the ASU Invitational in Tempe, Ariz.
Friday, May 20
Game 1: Ohio State vs. Oregon State | 4 p.m.
Game 2: Tennessee vs. Campbell | 6:30 p.m.
Saturday, May 21
Game 3: G1 Winner vs. G2 Winner | 12 p.m.
Game 4: G1 Loser vs. G2 Loser | 2:30 p.m.
Game 5: G3 Loser vs. G4 Winner | 5 p.m.
Sunday, May 22
Game 6: G3 Winner vs. G5 Winner | 2 p.m.
Game 7: G6 Winner vs. G6 Loser (If necessary) | 4:30 p.m.
- Selection Sunday was very good for the Big Ten.
- A conference-record tying seven schools were selected for the NCAA Tournament. That’s tied with the Pac-12 for the second-most selections of any conference.
- The seven bids ties the conference record for the most selections in a single season (a mark originally set in 2003).
- The Buckeyes played four of the seven NCAA-bound Big Ten schools this year.
Buckeye That and That
- Ohio State comes into the NCAA Tournament with an overall RPI of No. 25, which is the third-highest of any Big Ten team.
- The Buckeyes had the nation’s No. 28-ranked strength of schedule, also third-highest in the Big Ten.
- Second team All-Big Ten selection Lexie Handley broke Ohio State’s single-season strikeout record this season and enters the Knoxville Regional with 259 on the season. The previous record was 240 by Jamee Juarez in 2007.
- In 22 Big Ten games, fifth-year senior Niki Carver hit .415 with four home runs, 16 RBI and a conference-leading .581 on-base percentage.
- The Buckeyes have done much of their damage away from home this season with a 29-9 record in road/neutral games. Ohio State was 13-5 in true road games – including 8-3 in the Big Ten – and 16-4 in neutral games.
- Ohio State’s .700 winning percentage is its best in 12 years since, since going 39-14 (.735) in 2010.