First baseman Maddie Houlihan of the Gophers was named the Big Ten freshman of the year in softball on Wednesday. She hit .464 in conference games — second among all players — with seven doubles, five homers, a team-high 23 RBI and a .783 slugging percentage.
Houlihan, a former Benilde-St. Margaret's star, also was selected to the All-Big Ten first team along with pitcher Sara Groenewegen and third baseman Sam Macken. Catcher Taylor LeMay and shortstop Sydney Dwyer were named to the all-conference second team.
This was Groenewegen third first-team pick. The junior righthander was 13-1 with a 1.58 ERA in Big Ten games. Macken, also a junior who was on the second team last season, hit .375 in conference games with seven doubles, a triple and five homers and 20 RBI.
Groenewegen also was named one of 10 finalists for USA Softball's collegiate player of the year award.
Big Ten champion Michigan (44-4, 21-2) swept the other major awards: Sierra Romero was named player of the year, Megan Besta pitcher of the year — two awards Groenewegen received last season — and Carol Hutchins coach of the year.
The Gophers (38-12, 19-3 Big Ten) will open the conference tournament against either Illinois or Michigan State at 1:30 p.m. Friday at Penn State in the quarterfinals. They are the second seed behind the Wolverines.
Zahui B. traded
The Dallas Wings traded former Gopher Amanda Zahui B., a 6-5 center, to the New York Liberty in exchange for a flip in 2017 WNBA draft picks.
The Wings will get the Liberty's first-round pick next year, New York will get Dallas' second-round pick.
"With [Zahui B.] we have addressed our needs in the frontcourt not only for this season but for the future of the franchise," Liberty coach Bill Laimbeer said. "Amanda is an exceptional talent."
Zahui B. was the No. 2 overall pick in 2015 by the Tulsa Shock. She averaged 3.4 points and 2.4 rebounds as a rookie for a franchise that relocated this offseason.
• Muskegon's Rem Pitlick, a signed Gophers prospect, was named to the USHL all-first team at forward. He led the league in scoring with 46 goals and 43 assists for 89 points in 56 regular-season games. He is a native of Plymouth.
• Gophers signee Ryan Lindgren, a defenseman for the U.S. national development team, was invited to the NHL scouting combine from May 30-June 4 in Buffalo, N.Y.
• Tom Webb was named the head women's basketball coach at Southwest Minnesota State. He was the head coach at Cameron University in Lawton, Okla., the past eight seasons.
• Senior Brian Utz of Macalester was named the Arthur Ashe Award winner in the MIAC, an award given to the top men's tennis player, while Tommy Valentini of Gustavus was picked the Steve Wilkinson coach of the year.
• St. Olaf senior Alisa Hall was named winner of the MIAC Chris Evert Award, the conference's top honor in women's tennis. Bethel's Drew Fernilius was named the coach of the year.
• Sophomore Pete Sienko of St. Thomas was named the MIAC men's golfer of the year and the Tommies' Steve Proshek the coach of the year. Sophomore Emily Thul was the MIAC women's golfer of the year.