5 All-Big Ten picks back for Northwestern softball

Northwestern softball, fresh off its first Women’s College World Series appearance in 15 years, announced Thursday that five of its senior All-Big Ten players, including All-Americans Danielle Williams and Jordyn Rudd, will return next season.

When COVID-19 interrupted the 2020 season, NCAA athletes were granted an extra year of eligibility, creating a category of so-called super seniors.

Williams, a first-team All-American and the Big Ten Pitcher of the Year, was 31-6 with a 2.09 ERA this season. Her 333 strikeouts were the third-most in the country.

Rudd, a third-team All-American, led the team with a .370 batting average.

Nikki Cuchran, Maeve Nelson and Skyler Shellmyer — All-Big Ten selections — joined Rudd and Williams in announcing their return.

Northwestern finished 45-13 this season and hosted an NCAA regional, beating Oakland and McNeese State to advance in the tournament.

The Wildcats then beat No. 8-seed Arizona State to reach the program’s first WCWS since 2007. Northwestern was eliminated after losing to eventual national champion Oklahoma and No. 5-seed UCLA.

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