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Minnesota, Northwestern and Wisconsin standouts earn individual awards

ROSEMONT, Ill. – The Big Ten Conference announced the 2019 All-Big Ten Softball Teams and individual awards Wednesday, with Minnesota, Northwestern and Wisconsin earning individual accolades through a vote of the conference’s 14 head coaches. Wisconsin junior first baseman Kayla Konwent was selected as the Player of the Year, while Minnesota’s Amber Fiser was unanimously chosen as the Pitcher of the Year. Northwestern received a pair of honors with Danielle Williams named the Freshman of the Year and the Wildcats’ Kate Drohan earning Coach of the Year plaudits.

Konwent is not only the first Wisconsin student to earn the Big Ten Player of the Year award, but also the first Badger ever to receive any individual conference softball award (Player, Pitcher, Freshman or Coach of the Year) since those honors were first presented in 1985.

Fiser is the second Golden Gopher in six seasons to be chosen as Big Ten Pitcher of the Year, following Sara Groenewegen’s dual honors in 2014 and 2017. Fiser is also the first unanimous Pitcher of the Year honoree since 2015, when Michigan’s Megan Betsa earned that distinction.

Williams is the ninth Northwestern student named Big Ten Freshman of the Year and the first since outfielder Sabrina Rabin in 2015. The last Wildcat pitcher to collect Freshman of the Year accolades was Eileen Canney in 2004.

This marks the third Big Ten Coach of the Year honor for Drohan, who previously received the award in 2005 and 2006. It’s also the fifth time a Northwestern coach has earned that plaudit, with Sharon Drysdale selected as Coach of the Year in 1987 and 1995.

Konwent is in her first full season with the Badgers after missing nearly all of 2017, as well as the entire 2018 campaign, due to injuries. She leads the Big Ten in batting average (.479; also third in the nation), slugging percentage (.918; fifth in the nation), on-base percentage (.600; fourth in the nation) and total bases (134; 13th in the nation), while also ranking in the top five in the conference in hits (2nd – 70; 19th in the nation), doubles (3rd – 17; 23rd in the nation), home runs (3rd – 15), RBI (4th – 50) and walks (4th – 36).

Konwent also ranked fourth in the Big Ten with a .500 batting average during conference play (one of four Big Ten students to reach that mark this year after it happened just six times in Big Ten history prior to this season), while finishing third in six other categories — slugging percentage (.900), on-base percentage (.628), hits (35), doubles (10), total bases (63) and walks (22).

Fiser owns a 25-7 record this season and leads the Big Ten in ERA (1.25; 16th in the nation), strikeouts (281; fifth in the nation) and opponent batting average (.165), while ranking second in the conference in wins (25; eighth in the nation), shutouts (7; 22nd in the nation) and innings pitched (202.1). She is also 11th in the country in strikeouts per seven innings (9.7) and 19th in fewest hits allowed per seven innings (4.05).

During conference games, Fiser posted a 14-1 record with 10 complete games and four shutouts, while leading the Big Ten with a 1.21 ERA, 156 strikeouts (sixth in the conference record book) and 98 innings pitched. She also held opponents to a .163 batting average during Big Ten play, second in the conference.

Williams is 27-5 with 12 shutouts in the circle this year, leading the Big Ten and ranking second in the nation in both categories. She is also among the top five in the conference in ERA (2nd – 1.46), strikeouts (2nd – 266), opponent batting average (3rd – .169) and innings pitched (3rd – 191.1). She is third in the country in strikeout-to-walk ratio (8.31), 10th in strikeouts per seven innings (9.7) and 20th in hits per seven innings (4.06).

In her first conference season, Williams went 14-2 with 12 complete games, seven shutouts and a league-leading .152 opponent batting average, while ranking second in the Big Ten with a 1.53 ERA, 145 strikeouts and 96.0 innings pitched.

Drohan has guided Northwestern to a 42-9 record and a 21-2 mark in Big Ten play as the Wildcats finished second in the conference standings, their best finish since 2008 when they earned a share of the Big Ten title. NU also set a school record for Big Ten wins in a season and put together a 20-game winning streak from March 29-May 4, the second-longest winning streak in school history and longest since a 22-game run in 1985. The Wildcats, who have won 36 of their last 43 games, are currently ranked No. 11 in this week’s NCAA RPI, as well as No. 16 in the latest ESPN.com/USA Softball poll, No. 17 in the Softball America survey and No. 18 in this week’s USA Today/National Fastpitch Coaches Association (NFCA) poll.

Fiser, Williams and Konwent were named first-team All-Big Ten performers and were joined on the 18-member squad by Illinois’ Bella Loya and Kiana Sherlund, Indiana’s Maddie Westmoreland, Michigan’s Meghan Beaubien, Lexie Blair and Faith Canfield, Minnesota’s Hope Brandner, Natalie DenHartog and MaKenna Partain, Nebraska’s Tristen Edwards, Northwestern’s Jordyn Rudd, Ohio State’s Emily Clark and Lilli Piper, Purdue’s Jenny Behan and Wisconsin’s Taylor Johnson. Blair, DenHartog, Fiser, Williams, Piper and Konwent were all unanimous first-team selections.

Eighteen students were named second-team All-Big Ten honorees, while nine students were voted to the conference’s All-Defensive Team and 11 chosen for the Big Ten All-Freshman Team, including Williams, who joined Blair and DenHartog as unanimous selections. The Big Ten also announced the 14 Sportsmanship Award honorees from each institution. The students chosen are individuals who have distinguished themselves through sportsmanship and ethical behavior. These students must also be in good academic standing and have demonstrated good citizenship outside of the sports-competition setting.

The complete All-Big Ten teams, as well as a list of the honorees can be found below.

The 2019 Big Ten Tournament opens Thursday at Indiana’s Andy Mohr Field and all 11 games will be televised live on BTN, as well as on the FOX Sports app and through BTN’s digital extension, BTN2Go. This year’s Big Ten Tournament champion will earn the conference’s automatic berth to the NCAA Tournament.

2019 All-Big Ten Softball Teams and Individual Awards

(as selected by the Big Ten coaches — students in ALL CAPS were unanimous selections)

PLAYER OF THE YEAR: Kayla Konwent, Jr., 1B, WIS

PITCHER OF THE YEAR: AMBER FISER, Jr., P, MINN

FRESHMAN OF THE YEAR: Danielle Williams, P, NU

COACH OF THE YEAR: Kate Drohan, NU

First Team All-Big Ten

Bella Loya, So., C, ILL

Kiana Sherlund, Sr., OF, ILL

Maddie Westmoreland, So., DP, IND

Meghan Beaubien, So., P, MICH

LEXIE BLAIR, Fr., OF, MICH

Faith Canfield, Sr., 2B, MICH

Hope Brandner, So., 1B, MINN

NATALIE DenHARTOG, Fr., OF, MINN

AMBER FISER, Jr., P, MINN

MaKenna Partain, Jr., 2B, MINN

Tristen Edwards, Jr., SS, NEB

Jordyn Rudd, Fr., C, NU

DANIELLE WILLIAMS, Fr., P, NU

Emily Clark, Sr., 2B, OSU

LILLI PIPER, Sr., SS, OSU

Jenny Behan, Sr., 3B, PUR

Taylor Johnson, So., UTL, WIS

KAYLA KONWENT, Jr., 1B, WIS

Second Team All-Big Ten

Carly Thomas, Sr., OF, ILL

Grayson Radcliffe, So., SS, IND

Tara Trainer, Sr., P, IND

Allison Doocy, Jr., P, IOWA

Sammie Stefan, So., DP, MD

Natalie Peters, Sr., OF, MICH

Alex Sobczak, Sr., 1B, MICH

Caitie Ladd, So., SS, MSU

Maddie Houlihan, Sr., OF, MINN

Alyvia Simmons, Sr., OF, NEB

Rachel Lewis, So., 2B, NU

Maeve Nelson, Fr., SS, NU

Bri Betschel, Sr., OF, OSU

Ashley Prange, Fr., 3B, OSU

Morgan Ray, Sr., P, OSU

Toni Polk, Sr., OF, PSU

Katie Wingert, Fr., C, RU

Kaitlyn Menz, Jr., P, WIS

All-Freshman Team

LEXIE BLAIR, OF, MICH

Alex Storako, P, MICH

Charla Echols, C, MSU

NATALIE DenHARTOG, OF, MINN

Maeve Nelson, SS, NU

Jordyn Rudd, C, NU

DANIELLE WILLIAMS, P, NU

Ashley Prange, 3B, OSU

Chelsea Bisi, UTL, PSU

Corah Price, P, RU

Katie Wingert, C, RU

All-Defensive Team

P: Meghan Beaubien, So., MICH

C: Claire Nicholson, So., OSU

1B: Alex Sobczak, Sr., MICH

2B: Faith Canfield, Sr., MICH

SS: Allie Arneson, Sr., MINN

3B: Katelyn Kemmetmueller, Jr., MINN

OF: Carly Thomas, Sr., ILL

OF: Micaela Abbatine, So., MD

OF: Kasey Wilhoit, Fr., PUR

Sportsmanship Award Honorees: Veronica Ruelius, ILL; Grayson Radcliffe, IND; Aralee Bogar, IOWA; JoJo McRae, MD; Natalie Peters, MICH; Kaitlyn Eveland, MSU; Emily Hanson, MINN; Madison Unzicker, NEB; Lily Novak, NU; Claire Nicholson, OSU; Madison Shaffer, PSU; Mallory Baker, PUR; Adriana Burcar, RU; Angie Morrow, WIS