May 24, 2022

Ohio State Softball 2022 Season in Review


2022 Season Stats // Big Ten Stats // 2022 Schedule & Results // 2022 Roster

COLUMBUS, Ohio For the first time in two years, the Ohio State softball team had a “traditional” season in 2022. That meant non-conference games. It meant a normal conference schedule. And has become the norm, it also meant to trip to the NCAA Tournament.

The Buckeyes finished the 2022 campaign 36-17 overall, made a run to the Big Ten Tournament semifinals and earned an at-large berth in the NCAA Tournament for the fifth time under head coach Kelly Kovach Schoenly.

2022 Team Superlatives

  • Ohio State’s 36 wins this spring matched its most in the last nine full seasons. It also won 36 games in 2018.
  • The Buckeyes’ .679 winning percentage was the second-best in the last 12 seasons, topped only by the 2018 squad that won at a .692 clip.
  • Ohio State finished with 13 or more conference wins for the sixth straight season.
  • The Buckeyes were especially good away from home in 2022 – they won 30 road/neutral site games and were 8-3 against Big Ten opponents on the road.
  • Ohio State earned four wins over ranked teams: No. 23 South Florida (twice), No. 22 Michigan and No. 8 Kentucky.
  • The Buckeyes were 2-0 against teams from the Southeastern Conference. In addition to the win over Kentucky, Ohio State also defeated South Carolina.

Lexie Handley: An Instant Impact
Last summer, graduate student Lexie Handley was looking for a place to finish her college career on a high note. And Ohio State was looking for a veteran pitcher to add to its rotation. It turned out to be a match made in heaven.

Handley, from Mogador, Ohio, made the most of her final season, helping the Buckeyes win big games while also rewriting the record book at the same time. She finished 2022 with 271 strikeouts in 225.0 innings, a 2.52 ERA and 22 wins. Her strikeout total is a single-season record while her 22 wins ranks No. 5 in the record books.

Handley was also at her best against some of Ohio State’s stiffest competition. Consider:

  • In a 5-0 win over No. 23 South Florida on March 13, she allowed just one hit and struck out 13 as the Buckeyes knocked off the Bulls, 5-0.
  • Two weeks later at No. 8 Kentucky, Handley fanned 11 and gave up just five hits against on the nation’s most potent offenses in a 3-0 win.
  • In the series opener at No. 22 Michigan, Handley struck out 13 and allowed just one earned run as the Buckeyes took the opening game, 6-2.

For her efforts, Handley earned second team All-Big Ten honors and was a first team All-Midwest Region selection. She finished ranked in the top five in the Big Ten in innings pitched, strikeouts, wins and shutouts.

Niki Carver: Finishing Strong
When the 2021 season ended, so did the career of Niki Carver. Or so she thought. Carver wasn’t ready for her time at Ohio State to be finished, so she rearranged her student teaching assignment with the help of the special education department and fulfilled the requirement in the fall instead of the spring.

The results on the field were off the charts. Carver increased her batting average from last season by nearly 80 points, hitting .348 with 35 RBI and 11 home runs. Her on-base percentage of .491 was seventh-best in the Big Ten, aided by a conference-leading 22 hit by pitches.

Against Big Ten opponents, Carver was even better. She batted .415 – third-best in the league – and had a Big Ten-best .581 on-base percentage.

It’s easy to see why the conference coaches chose her as a first-team All-Big Ten performer. Carver also earned All-Region honors for the first time in her career.

Playing Power Ball

  • Ohio State finished its 2022 season with 50 home runs – fifth-most in the Big Ten.
  • Over the last five full seasons, the Buckeyes have averaged 53.4 home runs per year.
  • Sam Hackenbracht was the Buckeyes’ top power threat in 2022, hitting 16 home runs while also leading the team with a .755 slugging percentage.
  • Her 16 home runs ranks No. 6 on the single-season list and were tied for the fourth-most in the Big Ten this spring.
  • Like Handley and Carver, Hackenbracht was an All-Big Ten and All-Region selection.
  • In three seasons, Hackenbracht has hit 30 home runs, which already ranks No. 8 on Ohio State’s all-time list.

Other Buckeye This and That

  • Freshman Melina Wilkison finished her rookie campaign with a .342 batting average, the best by a freshman since Taylor White hit .341 in 2015.
  • Wilkison, a member of the Big Ten All-Freshman Team and a third-team All-Region selection, had the best batting average among Big Ten freshmen who had 100 or more at-bats.
  • Another member of the freshman class – shortstop Kami Kortokrax – was one of four players to start every game this season. The other three were Sam Hackenbracht, Niki Carver and Meggie Otte.
  • The Buckeyes started freshmen at both of the middle infield spots in 39 of 53 games (73.5 percent of all games).
  • Ohio State played each of the teams that finished first, second and fourth in the final Big Ten regular season standings. Overall, they had the conference’s third-toughest schedule.
  • And against that tough schedule, the Buckeyes won five of their seven weekend series.