July 9, 2014
The Big Ten enjoyed a successful 2014 softball season, highlighted by five conference squads advancing to the NCAA Tournament, Michigan and Nebraska sharing the Big Ten Championship and Minnesota securing its first Big Ten Tournament title since 1999.
Five in the NCAA Tournament: Five Big Ten teams were selected to the 2014 NCAA Softball Tournament, as Michigan, Minnesota, Nebraska, Northwestern and Wisconsin represented the conference in this year’s tournament. The five Big Ten teams selected to the field were the most since 2009. Michigan advanced to its 22nd NCAA Tournament, having appeared in every event since 1995. Minnesota, which captured its first Big Ten Tournament Championship since 1999, returned to the NCAA bracket for the second straight season and hosted the Minneapolis Regional. Nebraska made its 22nd appearance in the NCAA Tournament, while Northwestern made its 14th overall appearance. Wisconsin advanced for the fifth time and second in as many years. Click HERE for more information.
Tournament Title: The third seeded Minnesota softball team earned its first Big Ten Tournament title since 1999. The Golden Gophers, which became the fourth Big Ten team to win multiple conference tournament titles, earned an automatic bid into the NCAA Tournament and sealed the school's ninth appearance in the national tournament. Following the Big Ten Tournament, Minnesota’s Kaitlyn Richardson was named the Most Outstanding Player. For complete round-by-round coverage of the Big Ten Tournament and the All-Tournament Team, click HERE.
Sharing the Crown: Michigan and Nebraska shared the Big Ten Championship after concluding the conference schedule with an 18-5 mark. The Wolverines secured their 18th conference championship in program history and seventh consecutive, while the Cornhuskers claimed its first Big Ten title. Michigan earned the No. 1 seed in the Big Ten Tournament, while Nebraska secured the No. 2 seed. For more on the Big Ten Championship, click HERE and HERE.
Earning Accolades: The Big Ten announced the 2014 All-Conference Teams and individual award winners prior to the Big Ten Softball Tournament. Michigan’s Sierra Romero captured Player of the Year honors for the second straight season, while Minnesota’s Sara Groenewegen became the first Golden Gopher to collect both Pitcher and Freshman of the Year honors in the same season. Nebraska’s Rhonda Revelle was tabbed the Big Ten Coach of the Year. For the full release on the individual award winners and All-Conference teams, click HERE.
Where We Rank: In the final polls of the 2014 season, three Big Ten teams appeared among the top 25 of the NFCA Coaches poll, while four conference squads received top 25 nods in the USA Softball ballot. In the coaches' poll, Michigan checked in at No. 10, followed by No. 15 Minnesota and No. 16 Nebraska. Northwestern and Wisconsin also received votes. In the USA Softball ballot, Michigan led the way at No. 10, followed by No. 14 Minnesota, No. 17 Nebraska and No. 24 Wisconsin. Northwestern also received votes. For more information on where Big Ten teams finished the season, click HERE.
Primetime Performers: The NFCA released its All-America teams, and the Big Ten was well-represented with six student-athletes garnering recognition, including a pair of First-Team All-Americans. Michigan shortstop Sierra Romero and Nebraska catcher Taylor Edwards both collected First-Team All-America plaudits. Minnesota pitcher Sara Moulton and third baseman Kaitlyn Richardson were named Second-Team All-Americans, along with Michigan hurler Haylie Wagner, who was named to the team as an at-large selection. Nebraska pitcher/utility player Tatum Edwards collected Third-Team All-America honors. For the complete list of Big Ten honorees, click HERE.
Head of the Class: Purdue's Andie Varsho, Northwestern's Marisa Bast and Michigan's Nicole Sappingfield were all named to the Capital One Academic All-America Teams. Varsho was a first-team selection, while Bast and Sappingfield both received second-team All-America nods. Varsho became the first two-time Academic All-American in Boilermaker history, while Bast was named second-team Academic All-America for the second straight year. Sappingfield is a two-time Academic All-Big Ten honoree (2012-13). For more on the Academic All-America standouts, click HERE.
Academic All-Big Ten Status: On May 28, the Big Ten recognized a total of 1,216 spring and at-large sports student-athletes who have been named to the Academic All-Conference team, which included 105 softball student-athletes. For more on the Academic All-Big Ten honorees, click HERE.