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Gopher softball player Oakland wins Big Ten Player of the Year honors

Softball shortstop from Minnesota Jess Oakland was named Big Ten Player of the Year among four other Gophers receiving Big Ten awards, the conference announced Wednesday.

Junior Taylor Krapf and Oakland were named First Team All-Big Ten, Oakland was a unanimous first-team selection.

Graduates Sydney Strelow And Morgan DeBord meanwhile took second team honors Jacie Hambrick was nominated for the Sportsmanship Award.

Strelow, DeBord and Oakland were also named to the Big Ten All-Defensive Team.

Oakland is the first Gopher to win the Big Ten Player of the Year award since Kendyl Lindaman (2017, 2018) and is the fifth player to win it in Minnesota softball history. This past season, Oakland made its mark in the Minnesota record book. The shortstop is Minnesota’s single-season leader in 68 runs scored, second in batting average (.455), fifth in doubles (19), third in home runs (19) and fifth in walks (38).

The San Jose, California native leads the nation in multiple categories, including: fifth in batting average, ninth in doubles, eighth in home runs, fifth in on-base percentage (.554), fifth in slugging percentage (.915) and fourth in total bases (151).

Krapf picked up this season where she left off in 2023. For the second year in a row, Krapf earned first-team selection as Minnesota’s starting catcher. Krapf is hitting .316 with 10 home runs and 48 RBI, and slugging .600 with a .427 on base clip.

Last season, Krapfi set several records in one match. Including two multi-home run games against NC State and Iowa. She picked up three doubles against Ohio State and secured seven RBI against Illinois.

Strelow received second team honors at second base and recorded three multi-hit games in Minnesota’s final six. Notably, Strelow has helped lead the Gopher defense to second in the nation and first in the conference in double plays per game.

In her career with the Maroon and Gold, the Kenosha, Wis., native is 223 and has competed at 227. The second team nod is the first all-conference honor Strelow has received.

DeBord transferred to Minnesota after a successful softball career at Loyola Marymount. She quickly fit into centerfield and wasted no time in being a key asset to the Gophers’ lineup in centerfield and at the plate.

DeBord is second overall in Minnesota, hitting .350 with 33 runs and 27 RBI. Defensively, she has had 92 putouts and a .990 fielding percentage.

Hambrick, a senior from Dewey, Ariz., has made 17 starts this season with six wins in the circle. Notably, she went 3-0 against Iowa on the road.

Complete list of Minnesota’s 2024 Big Ten individual awards:
Jess Oakland: Big Ten Player of the Year, First Team All-Big Ten, All-Defensive Team
Taylor Krapf: First team All-Big Ten
Morgan DeBord: Second Team All-Big Ten, All-Defensive Team
Sydney Strelow: Second Team All-Big Ten, All-Defensive Team
Jacie Hambrick: Sportsmanship Award

(info and photo courtesy of Gopher Sports)