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Michigan leads All-Big Ten selections

BY JORDAN HANSEN | MAY 07, 2015 5:00 AM

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After finishing the regular season 48-6, 21-2 in conference, it’s not exactly a surprise that Michigan led the conference in the postseason awards.

The Wolverines tallied four first-team All-Big Ten selections (Megan Betsa, Kelly Christner, Sierra Romero, Haylie Wagner) and three second-team All-Big Ten selections (Sierra Lawrence, Abby Ramirez, Lauren Sweet).

Betsa also won the Pitcher of the Year award, and Michigan head coach Carol Hutchins picked up the Coach of the Year award.

Hutchins was especially full of praise for the two pitchers — Betsa and Wagner — who are first and third in the conference in ERA, respectively.

“I’ve been so pleased with Megan Betsa; she grew up so much from her freshman year to her sophomore year and has really learned how to play the game one pitch at a time,” Hutchins said. “Her and Haylie complement each other so well.

“I think more importantly, they just do their part — they’ve been a huge part in our success.”

Wagner, Christner and Lawrence also made the All-Defensive team. In addition, Michigan boasted four unanimous selections, more than any other team.

“We certainly have had a lot of kids step up, and every week it’s been someone different,” Hutchins said. “We’ve got some very talented athletes, but I’m of course more concerned that we have kids that are just committed to sticking with the process.”

Gophers boast Player of the Year

Michigan may have won the most awards, but Minnesota pitcher Sara Groenewegen took home Player of the Year honors.

Just a sophomore, Groenewegen led the conference with 332 strikeouts and 28 wins. This came after a 2013-14 season in which she won Pitcher of the Year and Freshman of the Year honors.

“I think the biggest thing with her is that she gives the team confidence,” Minnesota head coach Jessica Allister said. “She wants the ball in big situations and wants to be the boss in big situations.”

In addition to her pitching numbers, Groenewegen is also an established hitter, batting .384 with 12 home runs.

“She does a tremendous job for us,” Allister said. “Her ability to contribute on both sides of the ball — that’s pretty remarkable.”

Nebraska claims three first-team awards

One of the best bats in the Big Ten, the Cornhuskers’ MJ Knighten was a unanimous all-conference selection.

Her slash line of .427/.485/.629 is impressive; she also led the Big Ten in hits with 72.

Kiki Stokes and Steph Pasquale joined Knighten on the first-team list, while Emily Lockman Jr. made the second and all-defensive team.

“Kiki, Steph and MJ — it’s real easy, you put in the preparation and the game pays you back,” Nebraska head coach Rhonda Revelle said. “I think they’ve all enjoyed successful seasons because of that.”

Revelle said that she especially liked the attitude change from Stokes, whom she felt wasn’t putting in everything she had towards the beginning of the season.

“Kiki, after being drop-kicked several times by our hitting coach Diane Miller, finally realized that it is easier to do the work than to run from the work,” Revelle said.

Follow @JordyHansen for news, updates and analysis about the Iowa softball team.


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