Big Ten Honors Booker, Schkade, Mychko with Postseason Awards
May 8, 2013
Park Ridge, Ill. – The Big Ten Conference announced its postseason awards Wednesday morning, honoring three Illini student-athletes for their achievements this season. Junior Alex Booker was named to the All-Big Ten Second Team, and she and Jami Schkade both earned spots on the inaugural Big Ten All-Defensive Team. Additionally, junior Jenna Mychko received a Big Ten Sportsmanship Award.
Junior leftfielder Alex Booker has had a fantastic season for the Illini on both offense and defense, leading the Orange and Blue at the plate with a .352 batting average and a .425 on base percentage. The speed demon has stolen 20 bases on just 21 attempts, becoming just the third Illini in school history to tab 20 swipes in a single season, while tying for second with a .952 efficiency. The Gurnee, Ill., native has put together a team-best 50 hits, 32 runs, 13 RBI, four doubles, a triple and 17 walks, while tabbing three sacrifice bunts.
“She has really improved both sides of her game,” said Head Coach Terri Sullivan. “Offensively, she has really expanded her game by being a triple threat, getting some extra-base hits and more RBIs. She’s stepped up every time we asked her to and in whatever spot we put her in. She’s really produced for us and has been getting better and better offensively.”
Booker has been outstanding in leftfield, recording the most fielding chances in the Big Ten without recording an error, making 87 putouts and tallying seven outfield assists. Her speed and consistency earn her one of the three outfield spots on the first-ever Big Ten All-Defensive Team.
“Defensively, I think she’s improved a lot, especially in her throwing. She’s made some big catches for us and is still working on her game to get better. We’re excited for her; she’s being honored for her hard work and her love of the game, and her passion to compete at this level and for the University of Illinois is really high.”
Sophomore second baseman Jami Schkade joins Booker on the Big Ten All-Defensive Team after playing flawless defense in the middle infield throughout conference play. The Albany, Texas, native is the only Big Ten second baseman with a 1.000 fielding percentage in conference play. She made 31 putouts and 23 assists during Big Ten play, helping to turn a pair of Illini double plays.
“We use her specifically for the belief we have in her defending a really difficult position to play in second base,” said Sullivan. “You have a lot of responsibilities there, a lot of coverage, between just your routine middle infield plays, but also covering first base and covering steals. She’s a smart player and has really accepted the challenge and the role that she has. I’m really excited about her being honored for something that she takes a lot of pride in; she’s really been an anchor for us.”
Junior catcher Jenna Mychko represents the Fighting Illini with the Big Ten Sportsmanship Award.
“Jenna is the ultimate team player,” said Sullivan, who nominated the Union, Ill., native for this important honor. “Over the years, she’s had some injuries that she’s battled and they always seem to come at the worst possible time, whether right as the season’s starting or at the beginning of the school year. This year she’s just worked really hard. She wasn’t in the starting lineup at the beginning of the year, but she earned it through hard work and producing.
“She really handles our pitchers well. It takes a lot of growth to handle those upperclassmen pitchers. Our pitches throw really differently, and I think she’s a big reason why they’re doing well.
“She’s very coachable and just has that complete love of Illinois and loves to represent Illinois on the field. She really believes in everything that we’re about, and I’m really excited for her that she’s being honored for those intangibles.”
20 student-athletes representing nine different teams were selected to the All-Big Ten First Team, with an additional 16 conference players earning a spot on the Second Team. The conference coaches voted on the best defensive player at each position for a spot on the 10-person All-Defensive Team.
The conference awarded four prestigious individual honors, three of which were claimed by regular-season champion Michigan. Wolverine shortstop Sierra Romero, winner of six Big Ten Freshman of the Week honors, was named both Player and Freshman of the Year. Nebraska junior Tatum Edwards took home Big Ten Pitcher of the Year, and Michigan Head Coach Carol Hutchins was selected as the Big Ten Coach of the Year.
2013 BIG TEN POSTSEASON HONORS
Big Ten Player of the Year: Sierra Romero, Fr., SS, MICH
First Team All-Big Ten
Second Team All-Big Ten
Big Ten All-Defensive Team
Sportsmanship Award Honorees