Moulton, Richardson and Walker Earn First Team All-Big Ten
May 8, 2013
PARK RIDGE, ILL. - Minnesota's success on the softball field this season has resulted in three Gophers players earning All-Big Ten First Team honors, as announced by the conference office on Wednesday.
Junior right-handed pitcher Sara Moulton (Eagan, Minn./Eagan), sophomore shortstop Tyler Walker (San Jose, Calif./Valley Christian) and sophomore third baseman Kaitlyn Richardson (Phoenix, Ariz./Sandra Day O'Connor) all earned spots on the first team in voting by the conference's coaches. Moulton and Richardson were unanimous selections to the team.
It marks the first time since 2005 that the Gophers have had a First Team All-Big Ten honoree. In fact, the three first team selections for Minnesota this year matches the combined number of first-teamers the Gophers had between 2001 and 2012. The last first team selection for the Golden Gophers had been catcher Megan Higginbotham during 2005.
It's also the first time since 1988 that Minnesota has had three members of the All-Big Ten First Team. The Gophers' three honorees that season were pitcher Brenda Bixby, infielder Kathy Casull and outfielder Deb Lange.
Moulton earns All-Big Ten honors for the third consecutive year. She was the Big Ten Freshman of the Year and Second Team All-Big Ten during her first year with the Gophers, while earning Third Team All-Big Ten accolades during 2012.
Moulton becomes the first Gophers pitcher to earn First Team All-Big Ten since her current pitching coach, Piper (Marten) Ritter, earned the distinction during 2003. Moulton is 29-9 with a 1.59 earned run average and 260 strikeouts in 238.0 innings this season. She has made 39 starts for the Gophers, with 24 complete games and 11 shutouts, including two no-hitters and one combined no-hitter.
Walker, who was a third team selection last season, earns First Team All-Big Ten honors after batting .405 (66-for-163) with team-leading totals for hits, runs scored (49), doubles (15), triples (2) and home runs (11) during the regular season. She also ranks second with 29 runs batted in, a .724 slugging percentage, a .489 on base percentage and 20 stolen bases.
Walker has a team-leading 21 multiple-hit games, including five games with three hits, and has eight multiple RBI games this season. She has reached base in her past 31 games heading into this weekend's Big Ten Tournament.
Richardson earns All-Big Ten recognition for the first time after leading the conference and ranking 11th nationally with a .462 (61-for-132) batting average, while ranking second (fifth nationally) with a .583 on base percentage. Richardson leads the Gophers in those two categories, as well as for runs batted in (40) and walks (34). She ranks second on the team in runs scored (34), doubles (11) and home runs (10).
Richardson has 19 multiple-hit games, including five games with three hits, and she has 10 multiple RBI games, which includes five games with three RBI and three games with four RBI. She also had a 10-game hitting streak and a 30-game streak of reaching base safely during this season.
The Big Ten also released its 2013 Sportsmanship Award recipients for each school, and redshirt junior Kelsey Klucas (Aitkin, Minn./Aitkin) is the Gophers' honoree. Klucas has appeared in 28 games for the Gophers, all as a pinch runner, and she has scored six runs.
Interestingly, Minnesota did not have a player named to the Big Ten's All-Defensive Team despite the fact that the Gophers led the conference for the second year in a row with a .971 fielding percentage.
Minnesota (33-16) opens play at the Big Ten Tournament on Friday at 4:30 p.m. CT. The third-seeded Gophers will face the winner of Thursday's opening-round game between sixth-seeded Illinois and 11th-seeded Penn State.
First Team All-Big Ten *
Second Team All-Big Ten
Player of the Year: Sierra Romero, Fr., SS, MICH
* Additional honorees due to tie
Sportsmanship Award Honorees: Jenny Mychko, ILL; Meaghan Murphy, IND; Sam Valentine, IOWA;