Big Ten Co-Champions Michigan and Northwestern Split Top Softball Individual Honors
May 8, 2008
Park Ridge, Ill. -The Big Ten office announced the 2008 softball All-Big Ten teams and individual honors today with co-champions Michigan and Northwestern each earning two individual laurels. NU's Tammy Williams picked up Player of the Year accolades while teammate Lauren Delaney was named Pitcher of the Year. Michigan's Jordan Taylor was tabbed Freshman of the Year and her coach Carol Hutchins earned Coach of the Year laurels.
Williams leads the nation in batting average, hitting at a .482 clip, and is among the top 10 with a .576 on- base percentage. The Roscoe, Mo., native has scored a Big Ten-best 21 runs and has 23 RBI during conference play. The prolific shortstop has 42 putouts in Big Ten action and sports a .932 fielding percentage. Overall, Williams has 68 hits, 10 homeruns and 37 RBI on the season. The junior was named National Player of the Week on Feb. 19 by Louisville Slugger/NFCA National and is in contention for National Player of the Year. Williams is the fourth-straight Wildcat to claim top conference accolades as Garland Cooper was honored in 2007, 2006 and 2005. In addition, two other Wildcats have earned the award -- Brooke Siebel in 2000 and Lisa Ishikawa, who was named the Big Ten's first-ever Player of the Year in 1985.
Northwestern's Delaney becomes the third-straight Wildcat to earn Pitcher of the Year laurels, joining two-time honoree Eileen Canney (2006 and 2007). The sophomore hurler closed out the Big Ten season with an 18-1 record while leading the Big Ten with 188 strikeouts. The Jefferson City, Mo., native also allowed opponents to hit only .146 during conference play.
Taylor, a native of Valencia, Calif., becomes the 10th Michigan player to be named Freshman of the Year. She went 10-0 in conference play, while striking out 80 batters, and only allowing conference opponents to hit at a .156 clip. Taylor joins teammate Samantha Findlay, who was honored in 2005, as the conference's top freshman, as well as former Wolverines Patti Benedict (1990), Kelly Kovach (1992), Tracy Carr (1993), Sara Griffin (1995), Traci Conrad (1996), Melissa Gentile (1997), Kelsey Kollen (1999) and Nicole Motycka (2002)
Michigan's Hutchins claims top coaching laurels after leading the Wolverines to a share of the Big Ten title, marking the 12th time in program history that they have been crowned. This is U-M's first title since the 2005 campaign. In a deadlock with Northwestern, the Wolverines needed to win their final two games of the season against Penn State to clinch a share of the title. Michigan upended the surging Nittany Lions, 2-0 and 3-0, to end the season. The Wolverines finished the Big Ten season with an 18-2 mark, while claiming the No. 2 seed in this week's Big Ten Tournament. Hutchins picks up her 10th Big Ten Coach of the Year accolade.
In addition, the conference office announced honorees from each team for the Big Ten Sportsmanship Award. The student-athletes chosen are individuals who have distinguished themselves through sportsmanship and ethical behavior. The student-athletes also must be in good academic standing and have demonstrated good citizenship outside of the sports-competition setting. Honorees for softball are Illinois' Katie Gaitros, Indiana's Anna Olson, Iowa's Summer Downs, Michigan's Teddi Ewing, Michigan State's Nikki Nicosia, Minnesota's Colleen Conway, Northwestern's Jessica Rigas, Ohio State's Brittany Vanderink, Penn State's Rebecca Bautista, Purdue's Tara Palmer and Wisconsin's Theresa Boruta. These 11 student-athletes are now candidates for the Big Ten Sportsmanship Award, as the conference office will honor one male and one female student-athlete from each institution at the end of the school year.
The 2008 Big Ten Softball Tournament gets underway today through Saturday, May 10. All four of Friday's games as well as the championship game on Saturday will be aired live on the Big Ten Network with coverage beginning at 9 a.m. CT on Friday. Visit www.bigten.org for additional tournament information.
2008 ALL-BIG TEN SOFTBALL TEAMS AND POSTSEASON HONORS
PLAYER OF THE YEAR: Tammy Williams, NU
* - Unanimous selection