COLUMBUS, Ohio – The Ohio State softball team was rewarded for its strong season on Thursday when the National Fastpitch Coaches Association announced its all-region teams. The Buckeyes, who are in the Midwest Region, had four honorees, including a pair of first teamers.
The Buckeyes’ all-region selections were pitcher Lexie Handley (first team), designated player Sam Hackenbracht (first team), first baseman Niki Carver (second team) and outfielder Melina Wilkison (third team).
Ohio State is one of just three schools in the Midwest region that had multiple first-team selections. Handley, Hackenbracht and Carver were also All-Big Ten selection while Wilkison was a member of the conference’s All-Freshman team.
𝗕𝗜𝗚 𝗧𝗜𝗠𝗘 𝗣𝗘𝗥𝗙𝗢𝗥𝗠𝗘𝗥𝗦 👏
— Ohio State Softball (@OhioStateSB) May 19, 2022
Lexie Handley: A Season to Remember
Handley, a native of Mogador, Ohio who spent the last three seasons at Auburn, made her one year as Ohio State a memorable one. She’s currently 22-9 with a 2.50 earned run average and 259 strikeouts, which places her among the Big Ten leaders in all three categories.
In the first game of a doubleheader sweep of Maryland on the final day of the regular season, Handley broke Ohio State’s single-season strikeout record, a mark that had stood for 15 years.
During Big Ten play, Handley has three 13-strikeout games – vs. Michigan, Penn State and Maryland – and also fanned 13 in a 5-0 win over South Florida in early March. She’s the first Buckeye to win 20 or more games in a season since Kim Reeder in 2009.
The all-region honor is the second of Handley’s career. In 2017, as a freshman at the University of Akron, she earned a spot on the All-Midwest team.
Sam Hackebnracht: Power At The Plate
Ohio State’s leader in home runs as a sophomore in 2021, Sam Hackenbracht hasn’t slowed down in 2022. In fact, she’s gotten even better.
Hackenbracht enters the Knoxville Regional as the team leader in batting average (.377), home runs (15) and RBI (48). Those numbers also place her among the Big Ten leaders, too. Her .755 slugging percentage is No. 3 in the conference and home run total ranks fifth.
In the last two seasons, Hackenbracht has hit 27 home runs. Her career total of 29 already ranks No. 9 in program history.
Already a two-time All-Big Ten selection, Hackenbracht is now a two-time All-Region selection. She earned second team honors last year.
Niki Carver: Last Year, Best Year
Niki Carver is enjoying career highs in every major offensive category, including batting average (.350), home runs (10), RBI (32) and on-base percentage (.490). A fifth-year senior, she’s the team’s active career leader in games played (203) and has 189 career starts to her credit.
The Big Ten leader in on-base percentage in conference-only games, Carver enters the Knoxville Regional this weekend with 156 career hits and 108 RBI. She is on a season-high 20-game reached base streak.
Carver, who earned first team All-Big Ten honors in her career last week, garners All-Region accolades for the first time in her career.
Melina Wilkison: An Instant Impact
A freshman from Greensburg, Ind., Melina Wilkson was put in the lineup early during her first season as a Buckeye and has never come out.
Wilkson, who last week was named to the Big Ten All-Freshman team, is hitting .331 in 46 games this season and also has good power numbers: she’s hit 10 doubles and four home runs, including one just last week in the Big Ten Tournament quarterfinal win over Illinois.
The Big Ten Freshman of the Week on April 25 following a three-game series at Michigan, Wilkison is tied for the team lead with 15 multi-hit games. She hit safely in all three games last week at the Big Ten Tournament.
Up Next: Knoxville Regional
Ohio State earned an at-large berth in this year’s NCAA Tournament and is the No. 2 seed in the Knoxville Regional. The Buckeyes open play tomorrow, Friday, with a game against Oregon State at Sherri Parker Lee Stadium at 4 p.m. The contest will be broadcast live on ESPNU.