They say batting .300 gets you in the Hall of Fame. Well, Carol Hutchins is batting .500.
Michigan's Hutchins was named Big Ten softball coach of the year Wednesday — the 17th time she has won the award in her 34th year at the helm of the storied Wolverines' program, after signing a new, five-year contract before the season that pays her more than $500,000 annually.
Michigan (43-10, 18-3 Big Ten) heads to this week's Big Ten softball tournament as the No. 1 seed, after winning the regular-season championship for the 20th time, and 10th in the 11 seasons.
The Wolverines open against either Michigan State or Nebraska at 5:30 Friday in Madison, Wis.
And you can bet freshman Meghan Beaubien (Newport, Mich.) will be on the mound, after being named Big Ten pitcher of the year. She was 16-1 in Big Ten play with a 0.93 ERA, six shutouts, 117 strikeouts and a .123 opponents' batting average.
Beaubien earned the double-double, also winning Big Ten freshman of the year — making her, of course, first-team all-conference.
Senior first baseman Tera Blanco (.438, 23 RBIs), and junior second baseman Faith Canfield (.417, 15 RBIs, 1.000 fielding percentage) also made first-team All-Big Ten, in a voting by the conference coaches. The Wolverines have had at least three first-team players in each of the last 11 seasons.
Michigan State senior center fielder Lea Foerster (Portage, Mich.) also made first-team for a second consecutive season, after batting .376 with a .738 slugging percentage and 10 home runs.
Michigan shortstop Natalia Rodriguez made the all-freshman team, and Canfield and Foerster made the all-defensive team.
Michigan senior Morgan Swift (Caledonia, Mich.) and Michigan State junior Kelly Zackrison (Hudsonville, Mich.) were the schools' winners of the sportsmanship awards.
Michigan State (24-25, 10-11), the No. 8 seed, opens Big Ten tournament play at 5:30 Thursday against No. 9 Nebraska. Nebraska took the three-game series, 2-1, in late March.
Big Ten softball tournament
At Madison, Wis.; all games on BTN
No. 7 Wisconsin vs. No. 10 Purdue, noon
No. 6 Illinois vs. No. 11 Maryland, 2:30 p.m.
No. 8 Michigan State vs. No. 9 Nebraska, 5:30 p.m.
No. 5 Ohio State vs. No. 12 Iowa, 8 p.m.
No. 2 Minnesota vs. Wisconsin-Purdue winner, noon
No. 3 Indiana vs. Illinois-Maryland winner, 2:30 p.m.
No. 1 Michigan vs. Michigan State-Nebraska winner, 5:30 p.m.
No. 4 Northwestern vs. Ohio State-Iowa winner, 8 p.m.
Minnesota_Wisconsin-Purdue winner vs. Indiana_Illinois-Maryland winner, 2 p.m.
Michigan_Michigan State-Nebraska winner vs. Northwestern_Ohio State-Iowa winner, 4:30 p.m.
Semifinal winners, 7 p.m.