Six Huskers Honored by Big Ten Conference
Six Nebraska softball players earned an All-Big Ten honors when the conference announced its end-of-year awards on Wednesday. Five Huskers earned a spot on an All-Big Ten team, while senior Ashley Guile was Nebraska's sportsmanship award winner.
Senior right-hander Ashley Hagemann, junior second baseman Courtney Breault and junior outfielder Brooke Thomason highlighted Nebraska's honorees by earning second-team All-Big Ten honors. Junior third baseman Gabby Banda and sophomore utility player Tatum Edwards both earned third-team all-conference accolades. Hagemann, Edwards and Thomason earned an all-conference honor for the second time in their careers, while Nebraska's five All-Big Ten selections tied with Iowa for the second-most honorees in the conference.
Big Ten champion Michigan led the league with six all-conference performers, and the Wolverines swept the player-of-the-year awards. Amanda Chidester was named Big Ten Player of the Year, Haylie Wagner was the conference pitcher and freshman of the year and Carol Hutchins was honored as the Big Ten Coach of the Year.
For Nebraska, Hagemann was a second-team All-Big Ten selection after earning first-team All-Big 12 honors as a junior. The native of Elkhorn, Neb., was a workhorse for the Huskers in conference play, appearing in 18 of NU's 23 games, including 13 starts. She posted a 10-6 record with a 3.17 ERA in league play. Hagemann led the Big Ten with 117 strikeouts in conference play and her 7.9 strikeouts-per-seven-innings average was a full 2.0 strikeouts higher than any other Big Ten pitcher. Hagemann's 10 wins in conference play ranked second in the league. Overall, Hagemann also leads the Big Ten in strikeouts (320), innings pitched (261.1), complete games (34) and appearances (47), while ranking second in starts (38) and third in opponent average (.210) and wins (23). She was the only Big Ten pitcher to post 300 strikeouts this season.
Breault earned all-conference honors in her first season as a Husker. An SEC All-Freshman team selection at Arkansas in 2010, Breault was at her best during Big Ten play this season after being slowed early in the year while recovering from offseason shoulder surgery. A native of Roseville, Calif., Breault batted .305 with four home runs and 15 RBIs in conference play, while slugging .508 and reaching base at a .432 clip. She led all Big Ten second basemen in walks (10), home runs and on-base percentage, while ranking second in slugging percentage and RBIs and third in batting average. Defensively, Breault's .955 fielding percentage was third-best among the All-Big Ten candidates at second base. On the year, Breault finished with a .261 average while slugging two doubles, five home runs and producing 24 RBIs.
A native of Overland Park, Kan., Thomason earned second-team all-conference accolades for the second time in three seasons, as she was a second-team All-Big 12 selection as a freshman in 2010. This season, Thomason led all Big Ten outfielders during conference play in walks (15) and RBIs (24), while ranking second in slugging percentage (.615) and total bases (40) and third in home runs (4), doubles (5) and on-base percentage (.481). Among all Big Ten hitters regardless of position, Thomason finished the conference season ranked fourth in RBIs, seventh in slugging percentage, eighth in home runs and 10th in on-base percentage, walks and total bases. Over her entire junior season, Thomason batted .326 with 14 doubles, seven home runs and 47 RBIs, while adding 32 walks. She led NU in doubles, homers, RBIs, slugging percentage and on-base percentage, while ranking second in batting average, and stolen bases.
At third base, Banda earned the first all-conference honors of her career with a breakout junior season. After entering this season with a .233 career average, 65 hits, 16 doubles, four home runs and 26 RBIs, Banda hit .352 this spring with 62 hits, 14 doubles, four home runs and 30 RBIs. She led Nebraska in batting average, hits and doubles, while ranking second in runs scored (39) and slugging percentage (.511). In conference play, Banda batted .377 with seven doubles, one home run and eight RBIs. A native of Angleton, Texas, Banda led all Big Ten third basemen with 29 hits in conference play, while ranking second in doubles and third in average. Her three errors were also the fewest of any third baseman nominated for all-conference honors and her .954 fielding percentage was .011 better than any other nominee.
A native of Murrieta, Calif., Tatum Edwards earned all-conference accolades for the second straight season as a sophomore. Edwards contributed both offensively and in the circle for Nebraska this spring. In Big Ten play, Edwards posted a 4-3 record with a 2.92 ERA in the circle, while holding opposing hitters to a .221 batting average and allowing only seven extra-base hits in 190 at bats. She allowed one earned run or less in five of her final seven Big Ten starts, including a shutout against Michigan State. She also fired a one-hitter against Wisconsin in her final appearance of the season. At the plate, Edwards batted .284 during league play, adding five doubles, two home runs and 12 RBIs, while slugging .448. Overall this season, Edwards posted a .301 average with nine doubles, one triple, seven home runs and 38 RBIs. She also drew 26 walks and scored 30 runs. In the circle, the right-hander finished with a 9-5 record and a 2.88 ERA, while throwing a career-high three shutouts in only seven complete games.
Rounding out the group of Husker honorees was Guile, who earned a Big Ten Sportsmanship Award. On the field, Guile batted .314 in her senior season with eight doubles, two home runs and 35 RBIs. She added 24 walks to reach base at a .414 clip. Thirteen of Guile's 35 RBIs came during Big Ten play. Off the field, Guile was one of 30 national candidates for the 2012 Lowe's Senior CLASS Award. She also earned Nebraska's prestigious Heart and Soul Award, which has been dubbed the "Heisman of Life Skills."
Nebraska's Big Ten Honorees
Courtney Breault, Jr., 2B
Ashley Hagemann, Sr., RHP
Brooke Thomason, Jr., OF
Gabby Banda, Jr., 3B
Tatum Edwards, So., UTL
Ashley Guile, Sr., 1B