Pair of Illini Honored by Big Ten Conference
May 16, 2012
PARK RIDGE, Ill. - Illinois junior pitcher Pepper Gay was named to the All-Big Ten Second Team while senior third baseman and designated player Kelley Wedel took home the conference's Sportsmanship Award, as announced by the Big Ten on Wednesday afternoon. Gay was the ace of the Illini staff during 2012 and Wedel returned from a potentially career-ending injury to help spark the Orange and Blue offense over the final two weeks of the season.
Gay finished the 2012 season with a 22-15 record and 1.89 ERA in 46 appearances, making 35 starts in the circle while tossing 23 complete games and five shutouts. The Avondale Estates, Ga., native tossed a single-season career-high 229 1/3 innings, holding opponents to just 62 earned runs while striking out 202 foes and limiting opposing lineups to a .213 batting average against. The all-conference laurel marks the second of Gay's career, as the junior also took home second team honors as a freshman in 2010.
Wedel began the season as the starting third baseman for the Orange and Blue, the fourth year as the starter at the position. However, Wedel suffered a broken finger during practice prior to the series at Iowa from March 31-April 1. Initially thought to be a career-ending injury, Wedel completed rehabilitation successfully in four weeks and was cleared to play two days before doubling and scoring the eventual winning run in a 3-2 come-from-behind victory over Southern Illinois on May 2. Unable to continue playing third due to the extent of the injury, Wedel was able to close out the senior's career as the designated player during the final seven games.