May 12, 2022

Buckeyes Top Illinois, Advance to B1G Tournament Semifinals

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2022 Season Stats // 2022 Schedule & Results // 2022 Roster // Tournament Bracket // Final Stats

EAST LANSING, Mich. The Ohio State softball team is bound for the semifinal round of the Big Ten Tournament, thanks to a 5-1 win over third-seeded Illinois on Thursday afternoon at Secchia Stadium in East Lansing, Mich. The sixth-seeded Buckeyes have a date tomorrow vs. second-seeded Nebraska at 2 p.m. The winner will advance to Saturday’s championship game.

The Short Story
For the second time in 24 hours, pitcher Lexie Handley was in control in the circle, allowing just six hits over seven innings with no earned runs and only one walk. She got all the offensive support she’d need in the third inning, as Ohio State plated four runs on three hits and three Illinois errors.

In the seventh inning, freshman Melina Wilkison’s home run gave Ohio State a 5-0 lead and the Buckeyes shut the door in the bottom half of the frame to improve to 35-14 on the season.

Handley’s day was also an efficient one – she needed just 82 pitches to shut down the Big Ten’s second-best hitting team.

How The Runs Were Scored

  • The fireworks started for Ohio State in the top of the third inning. When it all said and done, Ohio State plated four runs on three hits and was aided by three Illinois errors.
  • With two outs and a runner on first, Jaycee Ruberti worked a walk, setting up a Sam Hackenbracht at-bat that resulted in the junior reaching base via an error by the Illini shortstop.
  • The next batter, McKenzie Bump, hustled down the first base run on a ground ball and beat out a throw for a single. The ball dribbled away from the first baseman, allowing two more runs to come home.
  • Kami Kortokrax followed by putting a ball in play that wasn’t handled by the shortstop, scoring Niki Carver for a 4-0 Ohio State lead.
  • Melina Wilkson increased Ohio State’s lead to 5-0 in the top of the seventh with a solo home run over the left field fence. It was her fourth homer of the season.
  • Illinois’ one run of the game came in the bottom of the seventh inning but also resulted in Kami Kortokrax making a heads-up play in between second and third base to record the second out of the inning.

Big Ten Tournament History

  • Ohio State advances to the Big Ten Tournament semifinals for the third time in head coach Kelly Kovach Schoenly’s tenure. Previous trips came in 2014 and 2017.
  • Ohio State and Nebraska last played in the Big Ten Tournament in 2015 in the quarterfinal round at Buckeye Field.
  • Thursday’s win by Ohio State was the first of the tournament by a lower-seeded team.

Buckeye This and That

  • Wednesday’s game included three video reviews. For the first time, the Big Ten is utilizing a review system for the tournament.
  • Ohio State has won seven of its last eight meetings against Illinois.
  • Sam Hackenbracht had a single in the seventh inning following Wilkison’s home run and extended her hitting streak to nine games. Her season-high in 13.
  • Niki Carver has reached base in 20 straight games.
  • The Buckeyes’ six hits on Thursday came from six different players.
  • Ohio State played an error-free game for the 22nd time this season. Its defense was busy, however, as 15 of the 18 defensive outs recorded her fly outs.
  • Handley threw 62 strikes in 82 pitches for a strike percentage of 75.6.

Ohio State/Nebraska Series

  • Ohio State and Nebraska played a three-game series April 29-May 1 in Columbus.
  • The Buckeyes took two of three games, winning the opener 6-2 and then using a walk-off single by Sam Hackenbracht the next day for a 5-4 win. The Huskers took the third and final game, 9-1.
  • Ohio State has won three of the five games between the two teams over the last two seasons.

What’s Next
Tomorrow’s Big Ten Tournament semifinal will air live on BTN. Live stats are also available on the schedule page of OhioStateBuckeyes.com or by following the Buckeyes on Twitter at @OhioStateSB.