May 9, 2012
SOUTH BEND, Ind. - Sophomore Laura Winter was named BIG EAST Conference Softball Pitcher of the Year, as announced Wednesday evening during the league's annual awards banquet. Winter was also one of six Notre Dame players to earn an all-BIG EAST citation after being recognized as a first-team performer for the second time in as many seasons.
Winter earned the BIG EAST Pitcher of the Year honor after ranking among the top six players in most pitching categories for conference games. Winter led the league with 13 conference victories and ranked second with a 1.21 ERA. In 98.2 BIG EAST innings pitched, the righty fanned 102 batters and topped the conference with 38 strikeouts looking. Winter produced a 25-8 overall record as the top hurler for the Irish and was honored as the BIG EAST Pitcher of the Week on April 23.
Winter is ranked second in the NCAA with 0.61 walks allowed per 7.0 innings and tossed a no-hitter earlier this season against DePaul. Heading into the BIG EAST Championship, Winter carries an active streak of 19.2 innings without allowing an earned run.
Winter is the first Irish pitcher to cop the league's top honor since Jody Valdivia did so as a junior in 2010. Steffany Stenglein won the award in 2004 and 2005 while Jennifer Sharron was a four-time recipient of the award (1998-2001).
Maldonado copped the third all-league citation and became the 10th Irish player ever to be named to the first team on three occasions.
Maldonado hit .316 during the league circuit with 18 hits, 15 runs, three doubles and a pair of home runs. The centerfielder drove in 11 runs and kept opposing pitchers on their heels by drawing a team-high 12 walks.
Miller carried a heavy bat in league play with 17 hits and eight home runs. Miller drove in 23 RBI while batting .327. The first baseman drove in at least three runs in four different league contests.
The second shortstop in as many seasons to earn all-BIG EAST honors, Saganowich replaced 2011 graduate Katie Fluery in the middle of the infield to not only hit .348 in league play, but the sure-handed shortstop committed only two errors in 19 league contests.
Buntin called the shots for Winter throughout the season and hit .375 during the conference schedule. Buntin posted a team-high 24 hits with 20 RBI in league play. Buntin smacked a pair of doubles and three home runs against league foes while scoring 18 times.
Thornton celebrated her breakout season by batting .318 in league games with 21 hits and 12 runs scored. The outfielder stole a team-high seven bases and drove in a pair of runs.
Awards are voted on by the league head coaches, who are not permitted to vote for their own players.
Second-seeded Notre Dame opens the BIG EAST Championship at 6:30 p.m. (ET) Thursday at Melissa Cook Stadium against seventh-seeded Rutgers. Live coverage will be available at UND.com.
BIG EAST Player of the Year
BIG EAST Pitcher of the Year
BIG EAST Rookie of the Year
BIG EAST Coaching Staff of the Year
All-BIG EAST First Team
All-BIG EAST Second Team
All-BIG EAST Third Team