This Week in the Big Ten

Michigan's Sierra Romero was named the Big Ten Player and Freshman of the Year, as well as a finalist for USA Softball National Collegiate Player of the Year this past week.

May 12, 2013

[ONE // nittany lions roar to women’s outdoor track and field title]
The Penn State women won the 2013 Big Ten Outdoor Track and Field Championships on Sunday at Jesse Owens Memorial Stadium in Columbus, Ohio. The Nittany Lions posted three individual crowns and five runner-up finishes en route to their fourth overall championship following three straight from 2008-10.  The Nittany Lions scored 133 points at the championships, followed by second-place Illinois with 120 points. Ohio State finished in third place with 86 points, followed by Michigan with 82 points and Michigan State tallied 76 for a fifth-place finish.  BTN will air tape-delay coverage of the Big Ten Outdoor Track and Field Championships at 1 p.m. ET on Sunday, May 19.  Meet results and All-Big Ten honorees can be found by clicking here.

[TWO // husker men heralded as outdoor track and field champs]
The Nebraska men took home the 2013 Big Ten Outdoor Track and Field Championships title on Sunday at Jesse Owens Memorial Stadium in Columbus, Ohio. One individual champion, a relay victory and five second-place finishes led Nebraska to its first Big Ten outdoor title.  The Huskers tallied 131.5 points over the three-day event, followed by Minnesota with 93 points to finish second. Wisconsin came in third with 86.5 points, followed by Illinois (86) and Iowa (85) to round out the top five.  BTN will air tape-delay coverage of the Big Ten Outdoor Track and Field Championships at 1 p.m. ET on Sunday, May 19.  Meet results and All-Big Ten honorees can be found by clicking here.

[THREE // badgers big ten’s best in softball]
Six different Badgers drove in a run and pitcher Cassandra Darrah allowed just two hits as Wisconsin claimed the 2013 Big Ten Softball Tournament title with a 9-3 victory over Minnesota on Sunday afternoon at Bowlin Stadium in Lincoln, Neb. The fourth-seeded Badgers won their first Big Ten Tournament championship and secured the conference’s automatic berth to the NCAA Tournament, their first appearance in the national event since 2005 and fourth overall.  With the score tied, 2-2, entering the bottom of the fourth inning, the Wisconsin offense exploded for five runs to take a 7-2 lead, one it would not relinquish. Minnesota added a run in the top of the sixth, while Wisconsin added two in the bottom of the frame to complete the scoring. Darrah earned the complete-game win, striking out seven en route to winning Most Outstanding Player honors.  In addition, the following standouts were named to the All-Tournament Team:  Michigan’s Sara Driesenga and Ashley Lane; Minnesota’s Alex Davis and Sara Moulton; Nebraska’s Tatum Edwards and Emily Lockman; Northwestern’s Amy Letourneau; Penn State’s Cassidy Bell; Purdue’s Andie Varsho; and Wisconsin’s Darrah, Stefanni LaJeunesse, and Maria Van Abel, Wisconsin.

[FOUR // and the winners are…]
The Big Ten announced the 2013 softball All-Conference teams and individual award winners on Wednesday. Michigan's Sierra Romero became the second student-athlete to win Player and Freshman of the Year honors in the same season, while Wolverine coach Carol Hutchins was named Coach of the Year. Nebraska's Tatum Edwards was named Big Ten Pitcher of the Year.  A total of 20 standouts were named to first-team All-Big Ten, while 16 players earned second-team All-Big Ten distinction.  In addition, 10 players were named to the conference's All-Defensive Team and 12 student-athletes were named Sportsmanship Award honorees from each institution.

[FIVE // romero among the nation’s best]
On the heels of being named Big Ten Player and Freshman of the Year, Michigan's Sierra Romero was listed among the 10 finalists for USA Softball National Collegiate Player of the Year, it was announced on Wednesday. Romero is the only freshman named to the list, which is comprised of seven seniors and two sophomores. She ranks among the nation's top 10 in numerous categories, including home runs, RBI and slugging percentage, and helped Michigan to its sixth straight Big Ten Championship and the No. 1 seed in last week’s Big Ten Tournament.

[SIX // four softball squads punch tickets for ncaa championships]
Four Big Ten teams were selected to the 2013 NCAA Softball Tournament, it was announced on Sunday night. Michigan, Minnesota, Nebraska and Wisconsin will represent the conference in this year's bracket, which will get underway on Thursday with regional action. The four Big Ten teams selected to the field are the most since 2009.  The 64-team field is divided into 16, four-team double elimination regionals, which begin Thursday. The 16 regional winners advance to super regionals, where eight will emerge as Women's College World Series participants.

[SEVEN // big ten’s big four advance to ncaa women’s golf championships]
Michigan State, Northwestern, Purdue and Wisconsin advanced to the NCAA Women's Golf Championships following the conclusion of the regional championships on Saturday. Each team finished in the top eight of its respective regional to move on to the championships.  Purdue placed second in the West Regional, finishing with an 8-over 860. Northwestern placed sixth in the East Regional with a 10-over 874, while Wisconsin (+19, 883) and Michigan State (+20, 884) placed seventh and eighth, respectively, in the Central Regional. Purdue’s Paula Reto tied for the best performance in regional play, firing a 7-under 206. Indiana, Ohio State and Penn State also competed in regionals but did not advance to the NCAA Championships.  The 2013 NCAA Women's Golf Championships will be held May 21-24 at the University of Georgia Golf Course in Athens, Ga.

[EIGHT // men’s golf off to regional action]
Four Big Ten teams and three individuals have been selected to compete in the NCAA Men's Golf Regionals, it was announced this past Monday night. The Big Ten contingent will be represented at four of the six regional sites, with the top five teams and top individual not on one of those teams advancing from each regional to the NCAA Championship. Three regionals will host 13 teams and 10 individuals while the other three sites will welcome 14 teams and five individuals. The regionals are scheduled for May 16-18.  Big Ten Champion Illinois and Indiana will travel to the Fayetteville Regional. The Illini earned the No. 6 seed, while Indiana was awarded the No. 11 seed. Northwestern will travel to the Baton Rouge Regional as the No. 6 seed, and Iowa is the No. 10 seed in the Tallahassee Regional.  Three Big Ten golfers will compete as individuals in the Columbus Regional, as Michigan State’s Matthew Moseley, Minnesota’s Erik Van Rooyen and Purdue’s Adam Schenk all earned spots in the field.

[NINE // btn preps for prime-time football]
Big Ten institutions released game times and television plans this past Monday for 12 home football contests to appear in prime time on BTN during the 2013 season. BTN will highlight eight different conference teams in prime time, with games featuring Illinois, Indiana, Michigan State, Minnesota, Nebraska, Northwestern, Penn State and Wisconsin. The Big Ten non-conference home schedule kicks off on BTN with prime-time matchups on the opening Thursday, Friday and Saturday of the college football season. BTN will televise both Big Ten non-conference openers on Thursday, August 29, with Minnesota hosting UNLV and Indiana facing Indiana State at 7 p.m. ET, as well as matchups throughout the opening weekend.

[TEN // big ten well-represented in college football hall of fame class]
Congratulations to Wisconsin's Ron Dayne, Nebraska's Tommie Frazier, Ohio State's Orlando Pace and Michigan State's Percy Snow on being inducted into the 2013 College Football Hall of Fame, as announced by the National Football Foundation and College Hall of Fame on Tuesday.

[ELEVEN // conference challenge coming again]
The 15th annual Big Ten/ACC Challenge Presented by DICK’S Sporting Goods on Dec. 3-4 will be highlighted by eight teams in an early preseason top 25, including six of the top 11 teams: No. 3 Michigan State, No. 5 Duke, No. 6 Ohio State, No. 8 Syracuse, No. 9 Michigan, No. 11 North Carolina, No. 20 Indiana and No. 25 Iowa. Three of the games will pit ranked teams against each other: No. 9 Michigan at No. 5 Duke, No. 11 North Carolina at No. 3 Michigan State and No. 20 Indiana at No. 8 Syracuse.  The ACC and Big Ten split last year’s Challenge with six wins each. In the event of a tie, the Commissioner’s Cup remains with the conference that won the previous year, which was the Big Ten in 2012. The ACC holds a 10-3-1 Challenge record, winning the first 10 events (1999-2008) while the Big Ten won the next three (2009-2011).

[TWELVE // closer to dropping the puck]
Finally this week, the Big Ten office announced the dates and opponents for the inaugural season of Big Ten men's ice hockey this past Wednesday, featuring 20-game schedules for each of the six Big Ten hockey schools - Michigan, Michigan State, Minnesota, Ohio State, Penn State and Wisconsin. The first season of Big Ten hockey concludes with the inaugural Big Ten Men's Ice Hockey Tournament, to be held March 20-22, 2014, at Xcel Energy Center in Saint Paul, Minn.  The 2013-14 Big Ten hockey schedule will feature 60 games beginning in late November, with the majority of contests being played on Friday and Saturday. The schedule will also feature a limited number of games on Thursday, Sunday and Monday. The full conference schedule can be found by clicking here.