Beaubien highlights All-Big Ten selections

Wednesday, May 9, 2018 - 10:15pm

Freshman left-hander Meghan Beaubien highlights Michigan's All-Big Ten selections

Freshman left-hander Meghan Beaubien highlights Michigan's All-Big Ten selections Buy this photo
Alec Cohen/Daily

In a season where the No. 16 Michigan softball team (18-3 Big Ten, 43-10 overall) reclaimed its spot atop the Big Ten standings, it’s only natural that the accolades have come pouring in.

Four Wolverines were named to All Big-Ten teams Wednesday, with freshman left-hander Meghan Beaubien — named Big Ten Pitcher of the Year and Big Ten Freshman of the Year — highlighting the slate. She and senior first baseman Tera Blanco were also unanimous All-Big Ten First Team selections. Joining them on the first team was junior second baseman Faith Canfield, while junior catcher Katie Alexander garnered second-team honors.

Additionally, Beaubien and freshman shortstop Natalia Rodriguez made the inaugural All-Big Ten Freshman Team, while Canfield was recognized for her glovework as the second-base representative on the All-Big Ten Defensive Team. Senior catcher Morgan Swift was Michigan’s Sportmanship Award honoree.

For her work in leading a relatively young team to the top of the conference standings, Michigan coach Carol Hutchins was named Big Ten Coach of the Year — the 17th time she has received this honor.

The Daily reviews each all-conference selection and their best performances in conference play.

Meghan Beaubien

People knew Beaubien was going to be good, but they’d be forgiven if they didn’t think she was going to be this good. No-hitters, statistical milestones, national recognition — Beaubien has them all.

Beaubien ranks fifth in the country and first in the Big Ten with a 0.90 earned-run average and leads the nation with 32 wins — including a 16-1 conference record. She is just the 11th pitcher in school history to rack up 30+ wins. As if that weren’t enough, she also threw three no-hitters and combined for another with freshman right-hander Sarah Schaefer.

Due to her eye-popping statistics, Beaubien was also named a top-10 finalist for the USA Softball Collegiate Player of the Year.

Best performance: May 5 vs. Ohio State — 5 IP, 1 H, 5 Ks

Though Beaubien threw two no-hitters against conference foes in Purdue and Maryland and had games where she garnered twice as many strikeouts, her start against the Buckeyes — her final of the regular season — was her best because the lights were brightest. Against one of the toughest offensive teams the Wolverines would face, Beaubien delivered, making Ohio State batters look silly time and time again. The lone hit she allowed was to Lilli Piper — one of the best hitters in the conference — and Piper was thrown out attempting to advance to third base with no damage done. Michigan would eventually win the game, 8-0.

Tera Blanco

After a down season by her standards last year, Blanco largely returned to form at the plate while also serving as the Wolverines’ No. 2 starting pitcher, behind Beaubien.

In conference play, she batted .438 with an on-base percentage of .645 and a slugging percentage of .813. She also knocked five homers and drove in 23 runs. Her OBP and RBI marks were both second in the Big Ten.

This is the third consecutive year that Blanco has been named to an All-Big Ten team.

Best performance: Mar. 31 vs. Purdue — 3-3, 2 HR, 4 RBIs

In the second game of a weekend series against Purdue, Blanco had a game for the ages. She reached in all four of her plate appearances — garnering three hits and a walk — in Michigan’s 11-1 win. In the fourth inning, she hit a home run into the outfield of Ray Fisher Stadium, and, not to be outdone, ended the game in the fifth when she blasted another pitch off the camera tower in center field for a walk-off three-run shot.

Faith Canfield

As the Wolverines’ leadoff batter, Canfield’s job was to set the tone for every game and serve as a catalyst for the rest of the lineup. She did just that.

In Big Ten play, Canfield posted a batting average of .417 — just behind Blanco for fifth in the conference. She had seven doubles, 15 RBIs and only one strikeout, and also showcased her speed with four stolen bases.

Defensively, Canfield posted a fielding percentage of 1.000 — unusual for a middle infielder — and demonstrated her ability to make both the routine and flashy plays, earning her a spot on the All-Big Ten Defensive Team.

Best performance: May 5 vs. Ohio State — 3-4, 2B, SB, 2 RBIs

In one of the most important series of the year and against the toughest opponent Michigan would face in conference play, Canfield came through. With the Wolverines up 1-0, an RBI single and an error by the Buckeyes’ right fielder extended Michigan’s lead to a more-comfortable 3-0. Then, in the bottom of the fifth with runners on first and second, two outs and the score sitting at 6-0, Canfield hit a deep double to right-center field to score both runners and end the game early with a run-rule rivalry win.

Katie Alexander

Though her stats weren’t as flashy as Blanco’s or Canfield’s, Alexander made her presence known both at the plate and behind it. Not only did the former bullpen catcher develop into an offensive force, she also caught all six of the Wolverines’ no-hitters — a program record — and managed the varying personalities of the newcomer Beaubien and the veteran Blanco.

Alexander earned her second-team nod by batting .351 in conference play with 11 RBIs, five doubles, two triples and a home run, and even added a stolen base. Defensively, she boasted a .994 fielding percentage and Big Ten opponents went just three-for-nine on stolen base attempts against her.

This is Alexander’s first all-conference selection.

Best performance: Apr. 6 at Penn State — 3-4, 2B, 2 RBIs

After an up-and-down start to her season, Alexander broke out in State College. In Michigan’s 14-2 run-rule win, Alexander had an RBI single in the second, a double in the fifth and a two-out, bases-loaded RBI single in the sixth — part of a seven-run rally that extended the Wolverines’ lead from five runs to 12 runs and ended the game early.

Other honorees

Rodriguez — along with Beaubien a representative on the All-Big Ten Freshman Team — didn’t post the traditional stats of some of her teammates, but she made her presence known in other ways. A vacuum at shortstop, Rodriguez showed off her range by saving many a would-be hit. She posted a .913 fielding percentage in conference play. At the plate, the slap-hitter punished opposing defenses with her speed and was a perfect three-for-three in stolen bases.

Swift, Michigan’s Sportsmanship Award winner, served primarily as the bullpen catcher and appeared in just four games over her career with the Wolverines — and only one in 2018. Though her lone career at-bat was three years ago, Swift is still an important veteran leader on the team. A stalwart in the classroom as well, Swift double-majored in business administration and mechanical engineering and was named Academic All-Big Ten in 2016 and 2017.

Hutchins kept her team calm through a bad start to non-conference play and led them to an 18-3 conference record — including a 15-game winning streak. Michigan won 37 of its last 41 games and will once again be the top seed in the Big Ten Tournament.