Kylie Johnson Earns Second Team All-Big Ten
May 7, 2014
Park Ridge, Ill. - The Big Ten Conference announced its postseason awards this morning, honoring 36 student-athletes on the All-Big Ten first and second teams, a nine-player All-Defensive Team, four individual award winners, and 12 Sportsmanship Award honorees. Illinois took home a pair of postseason awards, as sophomore Kylie Johnson was named to the All-Big Ten Second Team and senior Jenna Mychko was honored with the Big Ten Sportsmanship Award for the second-straight season.
Kylie Johnson has played in 43 games this season, making 35 starts in right field or at designated player. Entering the season as a primary pinch runner, Johnson stole four bases on opening weekend, then went 2-for-2 with a double and an RBI as a pinch hitter-turned-designated player against Central Michigan in the final game of the trip. Her effectiveness in the lineup quickly earned her a starting role, appearing in the final 33 games of the season and starting all but one--a game against Iowa in which she went 4-for-4 with two runs after entering the game as a pinch hitter.
The sophomore speed demon leads the Fighting Illini with a .380 batting average on the year, good for eighth all-time at Illinois, while leading the Big Ten with three triples during conference play and swiping 10 bases. A great situational hitter, Johnson leads the team by hitting .438 (21-for-48) with runners on base and .565 (13-for-23) with runners in scoring position. Additionally, she hit .400 with two outs, picking up nine of her 14 RBIs with two away.
The Big Ten also honored one player from each team with the Big Ten Sportsmanship Award, and for the second-straight season, catcher Jenna Mychko was Illinois' recipient. As one of Illinois' two seniors, Mychko's leadership behind the plate has help a young pitching staff, featuring two freshmen, and an infield made up entirely of underclassmen, come together and grow throughout the season. Her attitude and team spirit has helped to motivate the team, while contributing immensely on the field as well.
The senior stepped it up at the plate, hitting .283 with five doubles, six home runs, 21 RBI, nine walks, and five sacrifice bunts. Behind the plate, Mychko has thrown out 11 runners stealing, participated in three double plays, and is on track to set new program records for single-season (1.000) and career (.992) fielding percentage at Illinois, while graduating with the fourth-most runners thrown out stealing of any Illinois catcher.
"Kylie comes to practice EVERY day ready to work, to go above and beyond; that is why she is most deserving of this award," said Head Coach Terri Sullivan. "She has elevated her game with such a commitment to her team.
"Jenna is a coach's dream. She is coachable, dedicated, enthusiastic, a superb leader, and represents Illinois with great pride and honor. Both Jenna and Kylie are ready to do whatever it takes for TEAM success this weekend."
The Big Ten once again awarded four individual honors, as Michigan sophomore shortstop Sierra Romero took home her second-consecutive Big Ten Player of the Year honor, while Sara Groenewegen became the first Golden Gopher to collect both Pitcher and Freshman of the Year honors in the same season. Additionally, Nebraska's Rhonda Revelle was named Big Ten Coach of the Year, after leading her team to a strong season finish to claim a share of the Huskers' first Big Ten title on the final day of the regular season.
During her sophomore campaign, Romero led the conference in batting average (.516), slugging percentage (.968), on-base percentage (.663), runs scored (32) and walks (27) in Big Ten games only. She currently leads the nation by hitting .511 on the season, which would mark the single-season Big Ten record for batting average in all games. Romero becomes the fifth Wolverine to win back-to-back Player of the Year awards, joining Patti Benedict (1992-93), Sara Griffin (1995-96), Traci Conrad (1998-99) and Amanda Chidester (2011-12). A Michigan student-athlete has won the last five Big Ten Player of the Year honors.
Groenewegen becomes the third Big Ten player to claim both the Pitcher and Freshman of the Year awards in the same season. She posted a record of 12-2 during the regular season, including seven wins in Big Ten play. Groenewegen led the conference in opposing batting average (.166), runs (32) and hits (58) allowed in Big Ten games only, while also recording 164 strikeouts. She was named the Big Ten Pitcher of the Week on April 7 and collected three Freshman of the Week nods during the regular season.
Revelle guided Nebraska to a share of its first Big Ten Championship after posting an 18-5 record in conference play. The Huskers enter the Big Ten Tournament having won 15 of their last 16 games. Nebraska led the conference in slugging percentage (.596), doubles (45), home runs (35) and total bases (364) in Big Ten play and saw six players named to the All-Big Ten first or second team. Revelle is in her 22nd season as the Huskers' mentor, and has led 17 teams to the NCAA Tournament.
2014 Softball All-Conference Teams and Individual Awards
First Team All-Big Ten
Second Team All-Big Ten
*Players in ALL CAPS denote unanimous selection
Sportsmanship Award Honorees: Jenna Mychko, ILL; Lora Olson, IND; Brianna Luna, IOWA; Katie Luetkens, MICH; Ellie Stoffer, MSU; Kelsey Klucas, MINN; Mattie Fowler, NEB; Fran Strub, NU; Caitlin Conrad, OSU; Maegan Tupinio, PSU; Maia Monchek, PUR; Ashley Van Zeeland, WIS