May 6, 2014
Big Ten Medal of Honor 100th Anniversary Spotlight: Michigan’s Casey Close
A 1986 Big Ten Medal of Honor recipient, Close garnered Big Ten Player of the Year accolades as a senior, capping a career that saw him guide the Wolverines to three Big Ten Championships. During his final season in Ann Arbor, he earned National Player of the Year honors by Baseball America, hitting .440 with 19 home runs and a single-season program record 72 RBI. That year, he was a first-team All-American and Academic All-American. A four year letterwinner with the Wolverines, Close was a three-time All-Big Ten standout and twice garnered Academic All-Big Ten honors.
Indiana holds a three-game lead over second-place Nebraska and Illinois heading into the weekend, and aims to clinch at least a share of the Big Ten Championship. The Hoosiers can clinch a share as early as Saturday with two victories, a Michigan State win over Nebraska on Saturday and an Iowa victory over the Illini on either Friday or Saturday.
Illinois’ Casey Fletcher had a big week at the plate last week for the Illinois. The junior belted five home runs, with three coming last Wednesday against Southern Illinois and two against Michigan State on Saturday, with 10 RBI over a four-game stretch. Not only did Fletcher earn Big Ten Player of the Week honors, he was recognized as a National Player of the Week by Collegiate Baseball Newspaper and NCAA.com.
Three Big Ten teams are ranked or receiving votes in the latest national polls, released by the National Collegiate Baseball Writers Association, Collegiate Baseball Newspaper and Baseball America on Monday. Indiana and Nebraska are each among the top 30 in the latest NCBWA poll, with Indiana appearing at No. 19 and Nebraska moving into the rankings at No. 29, while Illinois is also receiving votes. The Hoosiers moved into the top 10 in the other two rankings, appearing at No. 8 in the Collegiate Baseball Newspaper poll and No. 9 in the Baseball America standings.
Sixteen games featuring Big Ten teams will be nationally distributed this week, with BTN carrying Saturday’s Illinois at Iowa contest, televising a doubleheader on Sunday featuring Ohio State at Michigan and Nebraska at Michigan State, while the network will also feature Monday’s finale between the Huskers and Spartans.