Wisconsin softball team announces award recipients

The Badgers finished 29-28 overall and 6-14 in the Big Ten

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Co-Most Valuable Player and Offensive Player of the Year: catcher Boo Gillette

The junior led the Badgers with five home runs and a single-season record 34 RBI, and was second with a .328 batting average. Gillette, a two-year captain, also had a school-record 14 doubles. Defensively, she held opponents to a 48 percent success rate in steal attempts. She also picked off a conference-leading seven runners. Gillette was honored with a Big Ten Player of the Week award for the week of March 2.

Co-Most Valuable Player: shortstop Kris Zacher

Wisconsin's starting shortstop for all 57 games, Zacher set a new single-season hit record with 63 while recording a team-high .350 batting average. Zacher was also second on the team with four homers, 31 RBI and 10 doubles, and led the Badgers with three triples and 13 stolen bases. Zacher was named the Big Ten's player of the week April 12. Zacher was also awarded with a spot on the all-tournament team at the Capital Classic, going 6-for-16 (.375) with three runs scored, two home runs, six RBI and an .813 slugging percentage from March 19-21.

Most Improved Player: pitcher Megan Smith

A freshman walk-on, Smith appeared in 12 games this season and posted a 1-1 record with a 3.16 ERA. In just 31 innings of work, Smith struck out 10 batters. She worked a complete game in her first collegiate start – a heartbreaking nine-inning 7-5 loss to Hawaii Feb. 14, in which she gave up six earned runs. After that game, Smith surrendered only seven runs in 22 innings, giving her a 2.22 ERA the rest of the season.

Defensive Player of the Year: third baseman Athena Vasquez

Starting all 57 games at third base, Vasquez made a huge impact on the field. The freshman notched a team-leading and single-season record 185 assists. She unofficially has the most assists of any Division I third baseman. Vasquez's average of 3.24 assists per game is believed to be the third highest in Division I. Vasquez also contributed at the plate, notching 17 RBI with seven doubles and two homers.

Freshman of the Year: pitcher Eden Brock

Brock led the Badgers with 30 appearances, 24 starts and a team-low 1.71 ERA. She compiled a 12-13 record. Brock also led the squad with six shutouts and tied for the team lead with 14 complete games. Brock nearly reached perfection against Loyola-Chicago April 7, when she retired the first 16 batters she faced before surrendering a single with one out in the sixth inning. Brock recorded three wins during Wisconsin's record-tying eight-game winning streak from Feb. 21-29.

Coaches' Award: pitcher Katie Layne

The Badgers' only returning pitcher entering the 2004 season, Layne led the pitching staff with 13 victories and 90 strikeouts while throwing for a 2.72 ERA. Layne tied Brock for the team lead with 14 complete games. She also threw two shutouts among her 22 starts. Layne earned a spot on the all-tournament team at the National Invitational Softball Tournament, going 2-1 with a 0.00 ERA in 16.2 innings pitched, scattering seven hits and striking out 11 over the course of three games.

Academic Achievement Award: Natalie Phillips

Showing excellence on the field and in the classroom, this is the second straight year Phillips has received the Academic Achievement Award. A junior majoring in secondary education (political science and history), Phillips owns the team's highest grade-point average and is an Athletic Board Scholar. On the diamond, Phillips slugged two home runs and three doubles with eight RBI.

Badger Pride Award: Sam Polito

Polito made a big impact at Wisconsin in her first year playing collegiate softball, starting all 57 games. Hitting in the leadoff spot, the freshman was second on the team with 33 runs scored and was third on the squad with 46 hits. She had a .247 batting average. Polito was also second on the team with four stolen bases and tied for second with two triples. A staple in centerfield, Polito led all Wisconsin outfielders with 62 putouts.

Most Inspirational Player: Diana Consolmagno

Wisconsin's lone graduating senior, Consolmagno exemplified leadership, serving as a team captain for the past three seasons. Consolmagno contributed to the Badger cause by belting two home runs and seven doubles with 13 RBI in 54 games played. She smacked the second grand slam of her career in Wisconsin's 7-1 win over Utah State Feb. 21 at the ASU Louisville Slugger Classic. Consolmagno's energy extended to her defensive play as well. She led all Badger outfielders with five assists.

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