COLUMBUS, Ohio – The most experienced player on Ohio State’s roster is returning for one last go-around in 2022.
Niki Carver, who has played in 152 career games for the Buckeyes and is the team’s active career leader in hits (113), home runs (17), RBI (76) and doubles (16), has elected to use her fifth year of eligibility and will be back for the Scarlet and Gray in 2022.
Carver, who is a special education major, plans to student teach this fall as she finishes her undergraduate degree. Her addition bolsters the 2022 roster as she’ll undoubtedly be looked on as a leader for a group that includes 15 players who are in either their first or second years with the program.
“I am so excited to be back for a fifth year,” said Carver. “I told the coaches after Senior Night last season that I felt like my time here was cut short due to COVID-19 and I was still hungry and had something to prove.”
𝗢𝗡𝗘. 𝗠𝗢𝗥𝗘. 𝗬𝗘𝗔𝗥.
Thrilled to have @niki_carver back for her Super Senior season❗️
— Ohio State Softball (@OhioStateSB) August 23, 2021
Carver’s first four years with Ohio State have been about as consistent as they come. She’s batted .277 or higher for three consecutive seasons and has 30 or more hits in each of the full seasons that she has played (2018, 2019 and 2021). And her play has also made Ohio State a consistent winner: The Buckeyes are 104-62 since the start of the 2018 season, which gives them the fourth-best winning percentage in the Big Ten (.626).
“Niki’s desire to return for another year as a Buckeye is a testament to the commitment she has made over these last four years,” said head coach Kelly Kovach Schoenly. “She has been all in since the moment she stepped on campus. Thrilled for her, us and our Buckeye fans to have her in Scarlet and Gray one more year.”
“I want to thank the coaches for having me back another year and a huge thanks to the special education program and everyone at Ohio State who helped me figure out my student teaching in the fall,” said Carver. “That made pursuing a fifth year possible. I’m super excited for this opportunity and I can’t wait to leave it all out on the field.”
Since her first season in Columbus, Carver has been a mainstay in the starting lineup. On a deep and talented 2018 squad, she started 48 of 49 games and stepped up her performance during conference season, hitting .365 with three home runs and a .673 slugging percentage in 23 Big Ten games. The next season, in 2019, she improved her batting average by 24 points and defensively moved over to first base where she finished with a .982 fielding percentage. A COVID-shortened season of 2020 saw her bat .280 in 18 games. In 2021, against a schedule of Big Ten-only opponents, Carver was third on the team in batting average (.277) and second in RBI (27).
Off the field, Carver is a four-time OSU Scholar-Athlete and three-time Academic All-Big Ten honoree. In 2021, she was among five softball players who earned Big Ten Distinguished Scholar accolades for having a grade-point average of 3.70 or better during the 2020-21 academic year.