November 9, 2016

Six Sign With Ohio State for 2017-18


Nov. 9, 2016

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COLUMBUS, Ohio – Six student-athletes have signed National Letters of Intent to further the academic and athletic careers as members of the Ohio State softball program, head coach Kelly Kovach Schoenly announced today.

The newest Buckeyes are utility Niki Carver (Gainesville, Ga.), pitcher Skylar Hayward (Buford, Ga.), pitcher MJ James (San Diego, Calif.), infielder Megan McMenemy (Westerville, Ohio), catcher Claire Nicholson (Gilead, Ohio) and third baseman Taylor Stevens (Hebron, Ind.). Collectively, the group has winning credentials that include four national championships, 12 top-five national finishes, seven all-state accolades and four state titles.

Niki Carver | UTL | Gainesville, Ga./North Hall High School
All region and all state as a catcher for North Hall High School, leading her team to a regional runner-up finish … scholar athlete … plays club ball for the Georgia Impact, the ASA 14U and 16U state champions … took fifth place at ASA 14U nationals … a ASA 12U state champion in 2010-11 … member of Flo Softball’s Hot 100 list for the Class of 2017 … would like to work in either high school or elementary special education following graduation … primarily played catcher for her high school team but also pitched a perfect game in North Hall’s 8-0 win over Dawson County earlier this season … played her first two seasons at East Jackson High School … also a member of North Hall’s basketball team … works at the Special Olympics and mentors at a local elementary school, assisting teachers with special education students.

Kovach Schoenly on Carver: “Niki is one of those players that oozes with athleticism. She can catch, play infield, and on her off days pitches for her high school team. What’s great about a player like Niki is that she can fill a variety of roles for us. Through our recruitment of Niki, time and time again she has been the clutch performer her team needs.” 

Skylar Hayward | P | Buford, Ga./Mill Creek High School
First team all-state by the Georgia Coaches Association and the 2015 Georgia Dugout Club 6A state Player of the Year … four year letterwinner … led Mill Creek to a state championship … Gwinnett County Super 6 honoree … received the Hawk Scholar-Athlete award … went 18-4 with a 1.04 ERA and 134 strikeouts as a junior … member of Flo Softball’s Hot 100 list for the Class of 2017 … first team all-county and honorable mention all-state as a sophomore … member of the Junior Olympic Cup champion EC Bullets summer ball team … won a 16U state championship last summer with the Georgia Impact … the Impact were fifth at ASA Nationals … would like to become an oncologist, radiologist or optometrist following graduation … her mother, Gretchen, played tennis at Kennesaw State.

Kovach Schoenly on Hayward: “Skylar comes to us from one of the most competitive high school and summer programs in the country. Skylar has been successful in the big moments, winning states, the Junior Olympic Cup and a top-five finish at ASA Nationals. The most intriguing aspect of Skylar’s career is she has continued to improve and evolve as a pitcher. She has a great combination of speed, movement, and change of speeds.”

MJ James | P | San Diego, Calif./Patrick Henry High School
Three-time first team All-Eastern League and CIF selection … named the Most Valuable Pitcher in the Eastern League in 2014 … pitched 99.1 innings for Patrick Henry last season with 12 wins … went 18-5 as a sophomore with eight shutouts, a 1.58 ERA and 199 strikeouts in 164.0 innings … won 14 games as a freshman in 2014 with a 1.57 ERA … ASA national champion in 2014 as a member of the So Cal Athletics … finished third at the 2014 PGF Nationals and second in 2015 … would like to become a teacher after graduation … both of her parents played sports growing up: her mother, Stephanie, was a volleyball player at San Diego State while her father, Darin, was drafted by the San Francisco Giants.

Kovach Schoenly on James: “MJ is an extremely strong and powerful pitcher. With her 6’0″ frame and long stride, batters definitely feel her presence. MJ has pitched against some of the top hitters in the country throughout her career and has shown she can handle the pressure. MJ helped her team to a national championship and two other top-three finishes. She’s looked those big moments in the face and conquered them.”

Megan McMenemy | INF | Westerville, Ohio/Westerville Central High School
First team All-Ohio and the Columbus Dispatch Metro Player of the Year in 2016 … two-time Ohio Capital Conference Player of the Year … first team all-district and all-conference … as a junior in 2016, hit .547 with eight home runs, 27 RBI, 52 runs scored, 30 extra-base hits, 18 stolen bases and a slugging percentage of 1.081 … second team All-Ohio as a sophomore in 2015 … three-year starter … chosen as a team captain each of the last two years … selected to the Ohio All-Star team that played against the USA Jr. National Team in 2015 … plays club softball for the renowned Beverly Bandits … won the ASA Gold national championship in 2016 … runner-up at PGF Nationals in 2015 and fourth place at ASA/USA Nationals in 2013 with Lasers Gray … would like to work in the medical field after graduation … also plays soccer at Westerville Central and was the team’s leading scorer last season … has an older sister, Paige, who plays softball at Ashland … father, Brent, played football at John Carroll.

Kovach Schoenly on McMenemy: “Megan is a Buckeye through and through. Living a stone’s throw from campus, she will be the hometown star. She has made a name for herself leading teams to national championships and is a franchise player in the Bandits Organization. She will hit for power and average, and will have the versatility to move to a variety of infield positions.”

Claire Nicholson | C | Gilead, Ohio/River Valley High School
Two-time first team all-district, three-time first team all-conference and a second team All-Ohio selection as a junior in 2016 … hit .596 with 42 RBI, 32 runs scored and 15 doubles … All-Star Player of the Year by the Marion Star and Fahey Bank Female Athlete of the Month for April … has led her team in batting in each of her three years at River Valley High School … team captain … River Valley advanced to the district finals last season … hit .447 and drove in 40 runs as a freshman in 2014 … in the summer of 2016, played club ball for the Lasers and took second as ASA nationals … a year earlier, was a member of the Bandits team that was second at PGF nationals.

Kovach Schoenly on Nicholson: “The quality I’m most excited about with Claire is that she has been calling her own game as a catcher. She understands pitch calling at an extremely high level and has led two of her summer ball squads with a variety of different pitching styles on staff; both finished second at national tournaments. That kind of experience will definitely help us behind the plate. She continues to grow and improve as a hitter, having one of the highest averages in Ohio during her high school season.”

Taylor Stevens | 3B | Hebron, Ind./Boone Grove High School
Three-time all-conference selection … has led Boone Grove to back to back conference, sectional and regional championships with a pair of state runner-up finishes … in 27 games last spring, hit .488 with 43 RBI, 24 runs scored and a .542 on-base percentage … career batting average of .440 with 102 hits, 97 RBI and 68 runs scored in 77 games … recipient of the team’s 2016 hitting award … played club ball for the New Lenox Lightning, finishing ninth at nationals in 2015 … member of the 2010 Indiana Raiders team that was World Series champions … would like to pursue a career in exercise science or radiation therapy following graduation … come from an athletic family: her uncle, Danny Stevens, is the second all-time leading scorer in Edison High School basketball history and played collegiately at Loyola and Texas while her father, Jack Stevens, is third leading scorer all-time at Edison High School. 

Kovach Schoenly on Stevens: “Taylor comes to Ohio State with a very high softball IQ. She knows the small things in a game that make a difference. She’s an aggressive baserunner, has a strong arm, and will show her power in hitting to the gaps. Watching her play, she is a contagious energy type of leader.”