Big Ten Announces 2021 Softball Postseason Honors
Michigan and Maryland standouts earn individual awards
ROSEMONT, Ill. – The Big Ten Conference announced the 2021 All-Big Ten Softball Teams and individual awards Wednesday, with Big Ten Champion Michigan and Maryland earning individual accolades through a vote of the conference’s 14 head coaches.
The Wolverines captured three of the four individual awards. Junior outfielder Lexie Blair was selected as the Player of the Year, while junior Alex Storako was unanimously chosen as the Pitcher of the Year and Carol Hutchins earned Coach of the Year honors. In addition, Maryland outfielder Jaeda McFarland was named Freshman of the Year.
Blair is the 14th Michigan student-athlete to earn the Big Ten Player of the Year award, with Wolverine standouts having now received that honor a total of 20 times. The most recent Player of the Year to come from Michigan was Sierra Romero, who collected the last of her three awards in 2016.
With Storako’s selection, 14 Michigan hurlers have garnered Big Ten Pitcher of the Year accolades a combined total of 16 times. Storako is also the fifth unanimous Pitcher of the Year honoree in conference history and the second in as many seasons, following Minnesota’s Amber Fiser in 2019.
McFarland makes program history as the first Maryland softball player to earn a Big Ten individual award since the Terrapins joined the conference prior to the 2015 season. She is just the third Maryland player chosen as Freshman of the Year in any conference and first since 2013, when Lindsey Schmeiser was the ACC Freshman of the Year.
This marks the 18th Big Ten Coach of the Year honor for Hutchins in the 36 seasons the award has been presented, dating back to 1985. Hutchins has now been voted Big Ten Coach of the Year 11 times in the past 17 seasons, most recently in 2018.
A native of Winter Garden, Fla., Blair ranks among the top five in the Big Ten in six offensive categories — second in batting average (.411), hits (58) and runs scored (39), as well as third in doubles (15), fourth in on-base percentage (.465), fifth in slugging percentage (.660). Her batting average, on-base percentage and slugging percentage are also career highs.
Storako, who was among the top 25 finalists for the USA Softball Collegiate Player of the Year award, has posted a 21-3 record this season and leads the Big Ten in wins (also 14th in the nation), ERA (0.88; sixth in the nation), strikeouts (252; ninth in the nation), shutouts (7; 17th in the nation) and opponent batting average (.128). Originally from Frankfort, Ill., Storako also leads the country in strikeouts per seven innings (13.0), ranks fifth in the NCAA in fewest hits allowed per seven innings (2.99) and stands 10th nationally in strikeout-to-walk ratio (7.41).
McFarland, a resident of Orange Park, Fla., ranks among the top 10 in the Big Ten and led the Terrapins in triples (4; tie-2nd), stolen bases (13; seventh) and hits (46; ninth). She finished second on the team with a .326 batting average this season and also led Maryland with a .496 slugging percentage, 18 RBI and 22 runs scored.
Hutchins has guided Michigan to a 36-6 record and its 22nd Big Ten championship, as well as its 20th outright conference title. It’s also the Wolverines’ third consecutive Big Ten crown and 12th in the past 13 seasons. Michigan has consistently been ranked among the top 25 in all major national polls, currently standing 18th in the D1Softball.com poll and 20th in both the National Fastpitch Coaches Association (NFCA) and USA Softball polls. The Wolverines, who have won 30 of their last 33 games, are one of three Big Ten teams (along with Minnesota and Northwestern) to earn a berth in this year’s NCAA Tournament.
Blair and Storako were named first-team All-Big Ten performers and were joined on the 18-member squad by Illinois’ Kailee Powell, Indiana’s Gabbi Jenkins and Grace Lorsung, Michigan’s Lou Allan, Meghan Beaubien and Taylor Bump, Minnesota’s Natalie DenHartog and MaKenna Partain, Nebraska’s Billie Andrews and Tristen Edwards, Northwestern’s Rachel Lewis, Jordyn Rudd, Skyler Shellmyer and Danielle Williams, Ohio State’s Mariah Rodriguez and Purdue’s Rachel Becker. Blair, Storako and Lewis were all unanimous first-team selections.
McFarland highlighted a group of 18 student-athletes 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 McFarland.
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 and individual honorees can be found below.
2021 Big Ten Softball All-Conference Teams and Individual Awards
(as selected by the Big Ten coaches — players in ALL CAPS were unanimous selections)
PLAYER OF THE YEAR: Lexie Blair, Jr., OF, MICH
PITCHER OF THE YEAR: ALEX STORAKO, Jr., P, MICH
FRESHMAN OF THE YEAR: Jaeda McFarland, Fr., OF, MD
COACH OF THE YEAR: Carol Hutchins, MICH
First Team All-Big Ten
Kailee Powell, Jr., 1B, ILL
Gabbi Jenkins, Sr., OF, IND
Grace Lorsung, Fr., DP, IND
Lou Allan, Sr., 1B, MICH
Meghan Beaubien, Sr., P, MICH
LEXIE BLAIR, Jr., OF, MICH
Taylor Bump, Sr., 3B, MICH
ALEX STORAKO, Jr., P, MICH
Natalie DenHartog, Jr., OF, MINN
MaKenna Partain, Sr., 2B, MINN
Billie Andrews, Fr., SS, NEB
Tristen Edwards, Sr., OF, NEB
RACHEL LEWIS, Sr., 2B, NU
Jordyn Rudd, Jr., C, NU
Skyler Shellmyer, Jr., OF, NU
Danielle Williams, Jr., P, NU
Mariah Rodriguez, So., 2B, OSU
Rachel Becker, Jr., SS, PUR
Second Team All-Big Ten
Delaney Rummell, So., 3B, ILL
Avrey Steiner, Jr., 2B, ILL
Jaelyn Vickery, Fr., OF, ILL
Emily Goodin, Sr., P, IND
Grayson Radcliffe, Sr., 3B, IND
Denali Loecker, Fr., 1B, IOWA
Jaeda McFarland, Fr., OF, MD
Taylor Okada, Jr., 2B, MD
Julia Jimenez, So., 2B, MICH
Emily Hansen, Jr., DP, MINN
Amber Fiser, Sr., P, MINN
Katelyn Kemmetmueller, Sr., 3B, MINN
Autumn Pease, Jr., P, MINN
Morgan Newport, Grad., OF, NU
Sam Hackenbracht, So., C, OSU
Cora Bassett, So., OF, PUR
Kaitlyn Brannstrom, Fr., 1B, PUR
Fiona Girardot, So., 2B, WIS
Jaelyn Vickery, OF, ILL
Grace Lorsung, DP, IND
Brylee Klosterman, OF, IOWA
Denali Loecker, 1B, IOWA
Jaeda McFarland, OF, MD
Ashley Miller, P, MSU
Sara Kinch, C, MINN
Billie Andrews, SS, NEB
Allison Smith, P, OSU
Kaitlyn Brannstrom, 1B, PUR
Peyton Bannon, OF, WIS
P: Amber Fiser, Sr., MINN
C: Jordyn Rudd, Jr., NU
1B: Kailee Powell, Jr., ILL
2B: Rachel Lewis, Sr., NU
SS: Natalia Rodriguez, Sr., MICH
3B: Taylor Bump, Sr., MICH
OF: Gabbi Jenkins, Sr., IND
OF: Taylor Lambert, Sr., IND
OF: Jaeda McFarland, Fr., MD
Sportsmanship Award Honorees: Addy Jarvis, ILL; Gabbi Jenkins, IND; Grace Banes, IOWA; JoJo McRae, MD; Sarah Schaefer, MICH; Joanna Bartz, MSU; Carlie Brandt, MINN; Karlee Seevers, NEB; Mac Dunlap, NU; Megan McMenemy, OSU; Kennedy Legg, PSU; Sydney Bates, PUR; Hailey Hoklotubee, RU; Maddie Schwartz, WIS.