Jennie Ritter: 2005 Suzy Favor Award Winner

It has been two weeks since the Wolverine softball team last took to the diamond, yet accolades continue to roll in for Michigan's All-American pitcher Jennie Ritter. On Wednesday, the Big 10 conference selected Jennie Ritter as its 2005 Suzy Favor Award winner, presented annually to the Big 10 Female Athlete of the Year.

Three weeks ago, Jennie Ritter stole the hearts of the Wolverine nation. From coast-to-coast, Maize and Blue fans tuned into ESPN and ESPN2 as the Michigan softball team reeled in the first national championship in program history. As the starting pitcher, Ritter's right arm was a major contributor towards the title run, and as a reward for her efforts, the Big 10 conference has selected Jennie as the 2005 Female Athlete of the Year.

In a year where the Wolverine softball record book was rewritten from front to back, Ritter found a spot for her name in the book in multiple places. Jennie's 38 wins and 417 strikeouts both set new school records, and her 3 no-hitters tie the Wolverines record for a single season. She dominated opposing teams allowing a meager 0.92 ERA through 288.2 innings pitched, and has brought in numerous other awards along the way.

Leading up to her selection as the Big 10 Female Athlete of the Year, Ritter has claimed a spot on the All-Big 10 Team, All-Big 10 Tournament Team, and All-NCAA Tournament Team. Before heading off to the Women's College World Series, Ritter was nominated as one of three finalists for the 2005 USA softball Player of the Year Award.

It wasn't only her pitching, however, that was key to the Wolverines success. On the mound, the demeanor demonstrated by Ritter set an example for the rest of the team.

"Our team is known to have kept composure during rough times in games and we all received the motivation from Ritter on the mound," said Wolverines centerfielder Alessandra Giampaolo. "Ritter is by far the most qualified female athlete to receive this award. She deserves it more than anyone because of her hard work and dedication to leading this team to a National Championship."

That composure was never more evident then in the bottom of the ninth inning of the deciding game in the WCWS. After surrendering a leadoff double to UCLA Bruin designated player Kristen Dedmon, Ritter pitcher her way out of a bases loaded jam to keep the Wolverines title hopes alive.

Michigan would go on to clinch the national championship in the next inning thanks to Samantha Findlay's three-run home run, but Ritter will now forever be remembered due to her contributions to the Michigan softball program.

"There is not much left to say about Jennie Ritter," said Michigan head coach Carol Hutchins. "At least nothing that would do justice to the type of player and representative of Michigan she has become. I could not be more proud of a Michigan softball player because she took her game to another level this season and stayed there. She has earned everything she has accomplished and is very deserving of this honor."

Along with Jennie Ritter, Penn State men's gymnast Luis Vargas was selected as the 2005 Big 10 Men's Athlete of the Year.

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