Minneapolis - University of Minnesota softball handed out their team awards recently, at their annual year end awards banquet. Seven individual awards were handed out as well as Maroon and Gold Champions honors.
Alex Davis (Harbor City, Calif.) headlined the honorees, as she was named the team's Most Valuable Player. Just a freshman, Davis wrapped up her rookie campaign with a team leading .315 mark at the plate in Big Ten games, as well as team high 10 home runs, the most in a single season since the a record 15 in 2003 from Jordanne Nygren. Davis also proved her worth in the field as she was one of just three players to start every game, and did so at three different positions. She opened the season at third base and played one game behind the plate before closing the season as the starting shortstop.
Senior Heidi Carls (Villard, Minn.) was named the team's Most Valued Player and the Defensive Player of the Year, as she closed out her five seasons in the maroon and gold. Carls was an everyday starter the last two years, and finished her career with an outstanding senior season. She ranked third on the team in average, was second in runs batted in and was among the team leaders in fielding percentage with a .940 mark. Patrolling left field, Carls led the outfield with 45 putouts, and charted a pair of assists.
Junior Malisa Barnes (Phoenix) was the easy choice as Offensive player of the Year, as she led the team in batting average all season long. She spent time in both the leadoff and No. 3 spots and finished the season with a .321 average. She went 1-for-4 in the opener, and never saw her average dip down to .250 again, spending most of the season over the .300 mark. She was second on the team with five home runs, including two huge ones in the 10-9, 10-inning win over Wisconsin in the home finale.
Kelsey Klucas (Aitkin, Minn.) was named the Most Improved Player, appearing in 37 games in her freshman season and scoring 11 runs. She first appeared in the second game of the season, and closed the season by playing in 17 of 19 Big Ten games.
Davis and fellow freshman Lacey Middlebrooks (Wake Village, Texas) shared Rookie of the Year honors. Like Davis, Middlebrooks made an immediate impact, earning her first win in the season opener. She won her first three starts, and was 15-9 late in the season after a season high four straight wins. She ended the year 15-14, ranking in the top-10 in the Big Ten in wins.
Newcomer Whitney Erickson (San Ramon, Calif.) won the Hard Hat award, battling back from injuries to become the everyday designated player. Erickson appeared in 29 games, starting 21 straight at one point, and banged out three home runs with 12 RBI. In the 10-
inning comeback win over Wisconsin, she notched the game-winning hit in the bottom of the 10th.
Finally the Maroon and Gold Champions were named, including Carls, Davis, Erickson, Kim Hanlon, Sammie Howard, Chonquita Jones, Klucas, Alissa Koch, Middlebrooks, Mallory Mitchell, Alison Murphy, Natalie Neal, Allie Siu, Dannie Skrove, Abby Rehberger, and Tina Watts.