Big Ten Softball Lifts Lid on 2014 Season This Weekend
February 7, 2014INDIANA SPORTS PAGE
ROSEMONT, Ill. - The 2014 Big Ten softball season will begin this weekend with all
12 conference teams taking to the diamond. On Friday, Illinois, Indiana, Iowa,
Michigan State, Minnesota, Nebraska, Northwestern, Ohio State, Penn State and
Wisconsin will open the year at various tournaments around the country, while
Michigan and Purdue are set to begin the campaign on Saturday.
Reigning Big Ten Champion Michigan and Nebraska both appear among the top 10 of each
preseason poll. The Wolverines are ranked No. 5 in both the USA Softball and
National Fastpitch Coaches Association (NFCA) ballot, and the Cornhuskers are No. 9
in both rankings. Reigning Big Ten Tournament Champion Wisconsin also received votes
in each poll, while Minnesota and Iowa collected votes in the USA Softball preseason
2014 Big Ten Softball Storylines:
- The Big Ten returns 25 All-Conference performers from last season,
including Big Ten Player of the Year Sierra Romero from Michigan, and Pitcher of the
Year Tatum Edwards of Nebraska. Nine of the Big Ten's 12 teams will return at least
one All-Big Ten player.
- Fifteen first-team performers, seven second-team standouts and seven
members of the Big Ten All-Defensive Team return to their respective squads this
- Twelve returning Big Ten players were named All-Region performers last
season, including second-team NFCA All-Americans Romero and Edwards from Michigan,
and Kaitlin Richardson of Minnesota, who was named a third-team All-American.
- Seven Big Ten standouts were named to the 2014 USA Softball Collegiate
Player of the Year Watch list: Iowa's Megan Blank, Michigan's Sara Driesenga and
Romero, Minnesota's Richardson, Nebraska's Edwards, Purdue's Andie Varsho and
Wisconsin's Mary Massei.
- Prior to the start of the 2014 conference season, Big Ten teams will make
at least 118 appearances against teams that finished in the top 50 of the final 2013
- Ahead of conference play, Big Ten programs will make at least 130
appearances against teams that were part of the NCAA Tournament field in 2013.