After Ohio State’s loss to Oregon State in the Knoxville Regional to conclude the 2022 season, its five seniors – Lexie Handley, Kaitlyn Coffman, Niki Carver, Avery Clark and Jessica Ross – had the floor at a postgame press conference to reflect on this season and their careers at Ohio State.
Handley’s one season at Ohio State was a special one. An All-Big Ten and All-Region pitcher, she went 22-11 with a 2.52 ERA and a single-season record 271 strikeouts in 225.0 innings.
“I think it hurts so much because we love each other so much. I thought the tears were gone, but they’re not, and they won’t be for a while. I’m just so thankful for this group of girls and the ones that are outside as well. Obviously, good things come to an end, but nobody tells you what happens to great things. Great things come to an end, too, and that’s a lot harder to deal with sometimes. It’s hard I only got one year with this group, because I wish I had more time. But I’m so thankful that for this one year I was able to be so loved and accepted and felt like I could be myself again. I think the friendships, like Kaitlyn (Coffman) said, are going to last a while, forever—you’re stuck with me. You’re going to be my bridesmaid—or maid of honor. I have to find a husband first. But I think more than that, you remember that this sport is on the rise, and that was our job four years ago was to make it bigger than it was, and I think we’ve done a great job of that, this group of five individuals, and I’m just excited to continue to see this game grow.”
Coffman was Ohio State’s most productive pinch hitter this season. She played in 37 games, making nine starts, and hit .315 with two doubles, two home runs and 17 RBI.
“If I were to reflect on the last four years, I would say it’s been filled of a lot of hard work, a lot of sisterhood, a lot of long days on the practice field and obviously game film. We were here for quite a few hours today, but I would just say the amount of love and support that I have from my group of sisters is absolutely just amazing, and I will forever cherish everything that Ohio State has given me.”
From Prospect, Ohio, Clark was this year’s Big Ten Sportsmanship Honoree and an unquestioned leader for the 2022 Buckeyes. She played three seasons for the scarlet and gray – 73 games total – with a .288 batting average.
“Yeah, for me, I was just a small town girl wanting to make it big… make a name for myself and for all the young girls who have a dream of playing at the DI level. The past three years at Ohio State has been nothing but the best, and I just hope that I inspired so many young girls out there (to realize) that it doesn’t matter what you’ve gone through, you can do anything if you truly love it. No obstacle is bigger than your goal. I’m just so tremendously thankful for OSU.”
Ohio State’s active career leader in every offensive category, Carver, who is a fifth-year senior, played in 206 career games with 159 hits, 28 home runs and 111 RBI.
“Yeah, I just think the love and passion for the game this year has grown tremendously, between all five of us. Coming back for a fifth year has meant the world to be with these people, and I wouldn’t want anyone else by my side. And they’ve seen it with me through it all, and there’s no greater group of people. Our whole team, they give their hearts all the time, and they’re constantly pushing each other to be better. There’s not a better environment to be around than them, and I’m forever thankful to have all of them.”
A pitcher, Ross was a four-year player for the Buckeyes before medically retiring late in the 2022 season. She graduated earlier in May and was an OSU Scholar-Athlete and Academic All-Big Ten honoree.
“Regardless of the outcome today, I think all of us can easily say we choose this team. We choose this group of girls—no matter what happens; on the field, off the field—we choose each other. Coming into this weekend, coach asked for unwavering belief, and I think as a team, we wholeheartedly gave that unwavering belief in all of our games that we were going to come through as a team.”