Softball: Five Wildcats earn All-Big Ten honors

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Daily file photo by Joshua Hoffman

Rachel Lewis runs the bases against Nebraska. Lewis was one of three players unanimously named to the First Team All-Big Ten.

Nathan Ansell, Reporter


Softball


Ahead of its NCAA Tournament appearance against Kentucky, five Northwestern players received a handful of All-Conference honors Wednesday.

Senior second baseman Rachel Lewis, junior catcher Jordyn Rudd, junior pitcher Danielle Williams and junior center fielder Skyler Shellmyer all earned places on the conference’s First Team. Lewis achieved the accolade for her third consecutive season, and Rudd and Williams also got the recognition in 2019.

Additionally, graduate utility player Morgan Newport was selected to the Second Team All-Big Ten, and Lewis and Rudd nabbed two more spots on the conference’s All-Defensive Team.

The four Wildcats appearing on the First Team All-Big Ten are the most since 2006. This also marks the 19th straight season where at least three NU players earned All-Conference awards, a streak that has lasted through coach Kate Drohan’s career in Evanston.

Lewis, who leads the Big Ten in stolen bases and ranks third in on-base percentage, was one of three unanimous First Team All-Big Ten selections. The second baseman ended the regular season strong, reaching base in 12 of her last 13 games.

She wasn’t the only consistent force at the plate, however. Shellmyer and Rudd ranked fourth and sixth in the Big Ten for batting average, hitting .362 and .347, respectively. Shellmyer also finished in the top 10 for several other key offensive categories, such as hits, runs and stolen bases — a large part of the reason why she was moved to the leadoff spot this year.

Williams, who was named Big Ten Freshman of the Year in 2019, went 16-6 over this season, striking out 176 batters along the way — good for third in the conference. She also threw a perfect game against Iowa on April 16.

Newport, the only recipient who was in her final year of eligibility, also had a strong season. Her performance throughout last weekend’s series against Nebraska was especially dominant, with two home runs, a .714 on-base percentage and a complete game victory as a pitcher on Sunday. Drohan has also praised Newport’s improvements this season in holding the strike zone and pitch hunting after the game.

Additionally, Lewis and Rudd led the Cats to a .976 fielding percentage — the team’s best in over ten years. 

The Big Ten honorees will take the national stage on Friday as they and NU (29-15, 29-15 Big Ten) go head to head with Kentucky and aim to advance out of the Lexington Regional.

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Twitter: @NathanJAnsell

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