May 12, 2005
Park Ridge, IL - Northwestern's Garland Cooper was named Big Ten Player of the Year as announced by the Conference office today. Michigan's Jennie Ritter claimed Pitcher of the Year accolades, while teammate Samantha Findlay was tabbed Freshman of the Year. Michigan's Carol Hutchins and Northwestern's Kate Drohan also shared Coach of the Year laurels.
Cooper led the Big Ten, hitting .490 (25-for-51) while racking up 13 runs, 17 RBI and six doubles en route to earning the League's Player of the Year accolade. She tallied a League best .594 on-base percentage, while ranking second in slugging percentage (.882). The sophomore first baseman becomes only the third Wildcat in school history to nab top Conference laurels as Brooke Siebel was also honored in 2000 and Lisa Ishikawa was named the League's first-ever Player of the Year in 1985.
Michigan's Ritter claimed Pitcher of the Year honors after finishing the regular season with a 10-1 record. She tallied a League-best 122 strikeouts, while allowing opponents to hit only .144 on the season. Ritter also ranked second in the Big Ten with a 1.13 ERA while pitching 80.2 innings in 14 appearances. The Dexter, Mich., native is the eighth different Michigan hurler to earn Pitcher of the Year laurels in the award's 14-year existence.
Findlay, a native of Lockport, Ill., becomes the ninth Michigan player to be named Freshman of the Year. She racked up a Conference-best 23 RBI and seven home runs during the Big Ten season. Findlay also ranked fifth in the League with a .438 batting average (21-for-48), while posting a .917 slugging percentage.
Michigan's Hutchins and Northwestern's Drohan shared top coaching laurels after leading both their teams to remarkable Big Ten seasons. Needing to win their last two games of the regular season against Northwestern to clinch the League title, the No. 1-ranked Wolverines came out on top, defeating the Wildcats, 3-0, and 8-7, to finish with a 15-2 League mark and claim their 10th Conference title in school history. This season, Hutchins, who earns her ninth Coach of the Year honor, also became the first coach in any sport in Michigan history to win 900 games for the Maize and Blue. Now in her 21st season in Ann Arbor, she is currently 904-342-4 (.730).
In only her fourth season as head coach at Northwestern, Drohan led the Wildcats to one of its best regular seasons in school history. NU finished second behind Michigan in the Big Ten standings with a 15-3 record and clinched the No. 2 seed in the upcoming Big Ten Tournament, the Wildcats' highest berth since the 1998 season. Drohan becomes only the second coach in school history to earn Coach of the Year honors as former NU coach Sharon Drysdale nabbed top coaching accolades in 1987 and 1995.
The Conference office also 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. In addition, the student-athletes must be in good academic standing and have demonstrated good citizenship outside of the sports-competition setting. Honorees for softball are Illinois' Julie Balicki, Indiana's Kim Richards, Iowa's Lisa Birocci, Michigan's Becky Marx, Michigan State's Janette Hurtado, Minnesota's Rachel Keeney, Northwestern's Erin Mobley, Ohio State's Meghan Rowlands, Penn State's Kari Lucas, Purdue's Andrea Hillsey and Wisconsin's Boo Gillette. 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 2005 Big Ten Softball Tournament gets underway on Thursday, May 12 through Saturday, May 14. The Tournament's final game will be aired live on CSTV at Noon EST. Visit www.bigten.org for additional Tournament information.
A complete list of the 2005 Big Ten softball postseason honors follows.
2005 ALL-BIG TEN SOFTBALL TEAMS AND POSTSEASON HONORS
Garland Cooper, So., NU, 1B
*Tiffany Haas, Jr., MICH, 2B
Grace Leutele, Jr., MICH, 3B
Stephanie Churchwell, Fr., NU, SS
Megan Higginbotham, So., MINN, C
Ashley Esparza, Fr., PSU, UT
*Mindy Heidgerken, So., IOWA, OF
Alessandra Giampaolo, Fr., MICH, OF
Erin Mobley, Sr., NU, OF
*Nicole Motykca, Sr., MICH, DP
*Jennie Ritter, Jr., MICH, P
Courtnay Foster, Jr., NU, P
Samantha Findlay, Fr., MICH, 1B
Andrea Hillsey, Sr., PUR, 2B
Shelli Messer, Sr., PUR, 3B
Jessica Merchant, Sr., MICH, SS
Jamie Dotson, Jr., NU, C
Jamee Juarez, So., OSU, UT
Kylie Murray, Jr. Iowa, OF
Nicole Mercado, So., MSU, OF
Liz Caputo, Fr., OSU, OF
Stephanie Sward, Sr., MINN, DP
Lisa Birocci, Sr., IOWA, P
Eileen Canney, So., NU, P
Jenna Hall, Jr., ILL, 1B
Nycole Koyano, So., OSU, 2B
Shanna Diller, Fr., ILL, 3B
Kris Zacher, Sr., WIS, SS
Boo Gillette, Sr., WIS, C
Katie Hnatyk, Fr., WIS, UT
Stephanie Bercaw, Jr., MICH, OF
Karisa Evans, Sr., OSU, OF
Anastasia Miller, Sr., WIS, OF
Ashley Cutcliff, Sr., OSU, DP
Ali Arnold, Jr., IOWA, P
Missy Beseres, Sr., PSU, P
PLAYER OF THE YEAR: Garland Cooper, NU
PITCHER OF THE YEAR: Jennie Ritter, MICH
FRESHMAN OF THE YEAR: Samantha Findlay, MICH
CO-COACHES OF THE YEAR: Carol Hutchins, MICH and Kate Drohan, NU
2005 SPORTSMANSHIP AWARD HONOREES
Julie Balicki, ILL
Kim Richards, IND
Lisa Birocci, IOWA
Becky Marx, MICH
Janette Hurtado, MSU
Rachel Keeney, MINN
Erin Mobley, NU
Meghan Rowlands, OSU
Kari Lucas, PSU
Andrea Hillsey, PUR
Boo Gillette, WIS
* - Unanimous selection