Junior Lefthander Highlights Five All-Conference Selections
May 16, 2001
Columbus, Ohio - Illini ace Andy Dickinson has been named the 2001 Big Ten Pitcher of the Year, the Big Ten Conference announced today. Dickinson, a junior lefthander, went 10-1 in 2001 and led the Big Ten in wins, strikeouts and innings pitched while carrying Illinois to its sixth-consecutive postseason berth. He was 5-1 in conference play after throwing game one of every series against every other team's ace.
Dickinson became Illinois' third Pitcher of the Year in the past four years, successfully continuing Illinois' recent line of top-flight aces that includes Brett Weber (1996-98) and Jason Anderson (1999-2000). Weber won the conference's top award in 1998 and Anderson took home Pitcher of the Year honors last season.
Along with being voted the Pitcher of the Year, the Big Ten coaches voted Dickinson to the first-team All-Big Ten team. It is the fourth-consecutive year that Illinois has had a pitcher on the first team, including Weber in '98, Anderson in '99 and '00 and now Dickinson in 2001. Other Illini selections on the all-conference team included second-team selections Andy Schutzenhofer (first base) and Rob Fischer (outfield) and third-team selections Brady Ballard (outfield) and Luke Simmons (third base).
Schutzenhofer, last year's first-team first baseman, hit .392 with 80 hits and 41 RBI. He ranked among conference leaders in average, hits (80) and runs scored (53). Fischer, a senior, picks up his first career conference honor after hitting .354 with 10 home runs and 51 RBI. He led Illinois in RBI, total bases and slugging percentage.
Simmons, a two-time second-team selection at designated hitter, earned third-team honors at his new position. The junior won the Big Ten batting and RBI titles by hitting .426 in conference games and collecting 28 RBI in Big Ten play. Simmons is the first Illinois player to win two of three triple crown categories and the first Illini batting champ since Dave Payton in 1987.
Ballard, s senior, picks up his second-consecutive third-team selection after transferring to Illinois prior to his junior season. Ballard hit .354 in conference play, 20 points higher than his season average, while ranking among league leaders in runs scored and stolen bases.
Fifth-seeded Illinois opens Big Ten Tournament play this afternoon against second-seeded Purdue at Bill Davis Stadium on the campus of The Ohio State University. Game time is scheduled for 2:30 p.m. central time.