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Reese Atwood earns top honors as Texas dominates the Big 12 softball awards

Before Wednesday’s practice, the Texas softball team had a surprise film session on the big screen that sits above centerfield at McCombs Field.

The star of the show? Sophomore catcher Reese Atwood, who was unveiled as the Big 12 player of the year, highlighted a slideshow of all the conference postseason awards for the regular-season champions.

Atwood, who set single-season school records for home runs (21) and RBIs (83), also hit .433 while serving as the offensive center for a Texas team that went 45-6 and rose to a unanimous No. 1 ranking in every collegiate poll. She joins Amy Hooks (2011) and Taylor Thom (2014) as the only Longhorns to win the award.

More: Texas softball’s Reese Atwood lays the wood for softball opponents | Bohls

“I’m just super grateful for this opportunity to be named something as high as the Big 12 Player of the Year,” Atwood said. “I just think that’s a great honor, and to be able to have my teammates here and celebrate their awards as well is special.”

Those teammates include Teagan Kavan, the Big 12’s Freshman of the Year. The Iowa pitcher led Texas in wins (16), innings pitched (97.1), strikeouts (99) and upsets, based on her response to the unveiling of the prizes.

“They said they found something in the movie and they were going to show it to us on the screen,” she said, smiling. “So I had no idea.”

While she was honored by the recognition from the Big 12 coaches, Kavan said Atwood’s award proved especially rewarding for the team.

“I think we all knew this was going to happen, but it was so cool to see all her hard work pay off,” said Kavan, who is also the first Texas freshman to be selected first-team All-Big . 12 player since Erica Wright in 2015. “Reese is the hardest worker on the team, I would say, and it’s just really cool to see her succeed.”

Mike White became the first Texas coach to be honored as Big 12 coach of the year since Connie Clark in 2010.

“It’s actually more of a personnel award,” he said, deflecting the praise. “My staff was fantastic this year. As far as the players are concerned, this is just great recognition for all their hard work, and I’m happy for them.”

Pitcher Citlaly Gutierrez, outfielder Ashton Maloney and infielder Mia Scott joined Atwood and Kavan on the first team as Texas tied Oklahoma for the most first-team selections. Outfielder Kayden Henry, shortstop Vivi Martinez and utility player Katie Stewart were selected as second-team All-Big 12 members. Henry, Kavan and Stewart were all unanimous selections for the freshman team as well.

The five first-team selections for the program this season are the most in a single season since the 2012 team honored the program’s top five members.