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Rutgers softball has historic season despite 1st round loss to Ohio State in Big Ten Tournament

The Rutgers softball team had a successful season despite losing to Ohio State in the first round of the Big Ten Tournament. – Photo by Andy Wenstrand /

The Rutgers softball team concluded its season on May 10 after falling to Ohio State in the first round of the Big Ten Tournament. Despite the early exit, the Scarlet Knights (32-25, 9-14) had one of their best seasons in decades.

Rutgers completed many historical achievements this season. The Knights opened up their season with eight straight wins for the first time since 1980. With an overall record of 32-25, Rutgers picked up the most wins the program has had in a season since 1994.

The Knights also excelled in out-of-conference games, finishing with a 23-11 out-of-conference record. In the Big Ten, Rutgers only posted a 9-14 record, but a 7-3 victory over then-No. 18 Northwestern on May 6 gave the Knights their first win over a top-25 opponent since 2012.

Junior shortstop Kyleigh Sand led Rutgers at the plate and on the basepaths. Sand's .374 batting average led the team. The player also led the Knights with 26 stolen bases on 31 attempts.

Junior pitcher and outfielder Morgan Smith also had a standout season in her first year on the Banks. Smith posted a .357 batting average and led the team with 46 runs batted in (RBI).

Rutgers finished fifth in the Big Ten with a .285 team batting average and 288 total runs scored. Inside the pitcher’s circle, the Knights boasted a 3.36 team earned run average (ERA), which put them at seventh in the Big Ten.

Graduate student pitcher Jaden Vickers led the team with 108.1 innings pitched and 93 strikeouts. Vickers ended the season with a respectable 3.23 ERA. Rutgers will look to replace Vicker’s production inside the circle next year.

Many players on the team received individual awards as well. On May 18, Sand was named First Team All-Great Lakes Region, and Smith was named Second Team All-Great Lakes Region. Sand and Smith were also named Second Team All-Big Ten, with Smith being named to the Big Ten All-Defensive team as well.

Joining Sand and Smith, senior infielder Payton Lincavage was named Second Team All-Big Ten. Freshman pitcher Ryann Orange got named to the Big Ten All-Freshman Team.

Despite an overall strong season, the Knights struggled during the end of their season, only winning 3 of their last 16 games. Their final loss was a 7-4 loss to the Buckeyes (33-20, 12-11) in the first round of the Big Ten Tournament.

In that matchup, both teams traded 2 runs in the third and fifth innings, respectively, and the score was tied 4-4 heading into the final inning. In the bottom of the seventh inning, Sam Hackenbracht hit a walk-off 3-run home run to end Rutgers' season.

The Knights' 32 wins helped improve its win total by seven wins from the 2022 season and 24 wins from the 2021 season. Rutgers will look to parlay the momentum it gained this season into a deeper Big Ten Tournament run next year.

For more updates on the Rutgers softball team, follow @TargumSports on Twitter.

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