Lexie Blair leads Michigan softball's sweep of top Big Ten awards

Angelique S. Chengelis
The Detroit News
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Michigan junior outfielder Lexie Blair was named the Big Ten’s Player of the Year, junior Alex Storako was the unanimous selection as Pitcher of the Year, and Carol Hutchins earned Coach of the Year, taking three of the conference's top individual awards on  Wednesday.

Michigan's Lexie Blair took home the Big Ten's top honor on Wednesday.

Blair is the 14th Michigan player to earn Player of the Year and first since Sierra Romero in 2016, the last of her three awards. Blair ranks in the top five of the Big Ten in six offensive categories — second in batting average (.411), hits (58) and runs scored (39); third in doubles (15); fourth in on-base percentage (.465); and fifth in slugging percentage (.660). Her batting average, on-base percentage and slugging percentage are also career highs.

Michigan also has had 14 players win Pitcher of the Year, and Storako is the fifth to win as a unanimous selection. She has a 21-3 record this season and leads the Big Ten in ERA (0.88) and strikeouts (252). Those marks rank sixth and ninth, respectively, in the nation.

Storako's seven shutouts rank 17th in the nation and opponents are batting .128 against her. She also leads the country in strikeouts per seven innings (13), ranks fifth in the NCAA in fewest hits allowed per seven innings (2.99) and is 10th nationally in strikeout-to-walk ratio (7.41).

Hutchins, in her 37th season, has now won the Coach of the Year award 18 times. She has won 11 times in the past 17 seasons, most recently in 2018. She led the Wolverines to a 36-6 record this season and the program’s 22nd Big Ten championship, its 20th outright. Michigan has won 12 of the last 13 Big Ten titles.

Hutchins and the Wolverines are heading to Seattle today to prepare for the start of the NCAA Tournament on Friday, when Michigan plays Seattle University in the double-elimination regional hosted by Washington.

Blair and Storako also were unanimous picks to the All-Big Ten first team. Senior first baseman Lou Allan, senior pitcher Meghan Beaubien and senior third baseman Taylor Bump also earned first-team honors. Sophomore second baseman Julia Jimenez was named to the second team, while senior shortstop Natalia Rodriguez and Bump made the all-defensive team.

Each team has a Sportsmanship Award honoree. Sarah Schaefer won for Michigan and Joanna Bartz for Michigan State.

Big Ten rowing honors

Michigan rowing coach Mark Rothstein was named Big Ten Coach of the Year for the sixth time and senior Annika Hoffmann was named Athlete of the Year. Michigan is ranked No. 6 nationally.

Michigan has won or been runner-up at 16 of 21 Big Ten Championships under Rothstein's guidance. Michigan has earned a top-10 ranking in the preseason in four of the last five years, and has been a top-seven ranked team this season.

achengelis@detroitnews.com

Twitter: @chengelis

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