Jennifer Barnett named Nan Harvey Award winner
Junior Nicole Gremillion (Missouri City, Texas/Elkins) joined Barnett as a first team All-MAC selection, while Jessica Sturm (Wichita, Kan./Goddard) earned second-team accolades as a utility pitcher in voting by league coaches.
“Having the three all-conference selections, and the Nan Harvey Award winner, shows what our program is about and how we competed this year,” said NIU head coach Christina Sutcliffe. “We fight to the last out of every inning. I think it was a good representation of what NIU brings to the conference.”
The Nan Harvey Award is given to a MAC player, coach or staff member who demonstrates the type of commitment, leadership, toughness and tenacious attitude that Harvey, an integral part of the University at Buffalo family for over two decades, epitomized. A leader on and off the diamond, Barnett certainly exemplifies those characteristics for the Huskies.
“JB getting both first team All-MAC and the Nan Harvey Award continues to speak volumes to her character as a person and a player and indicates what she means to our program,” Sutcliffe said.
A four-year starter for NIU, Barnett has persevered through injuries and came back from two surgeries to become a major contributor to the Northern Illinois softball team. Her passion for softball is matched only by her dedication to helping others. The Indianapolis native is involved with a multitude of community service projects, not only as a member of the Northern Illinois softball team, but through her own initiatives.
Barnett, who earned second-team honors in 2012, ranks sixth in the MAC in batting average (.363) and hits (57) and is seventh in runs batted in (36), to lead NIU. She also established career-highs in triples (1), home runs (4) and slugging percentage (.516) while starting 52 of 53 games in 2013. The NIU first baseman was named MAC West Player of the Week twice this season. In addition to first team honors this year, and second team accolades in 2012, Barnett was named to the 2010 MAC All-Freshman Team.
Gremillion collected all-league honors for the second straight season. A second-team selection in 2012, she was a first-team choice this year after establishing career-highs in home runs (5), doubles (11) and RBIs (27). She ranks fifth on NIU’s single season list for runs scored with 41, which leads the team and is fourth in the league, and is third on the school’s all-time list for runs scored in a career (115). The Huskie left fielder is eighth in the MAC and second on the team in hitting with a .346 batting average, and in total hits with 56.
“Nicole’s been pretty steady for us from the three spot all year,” Sutcliffe said. “She’s been competing in the outfield and has done a nice job to and become a factor in our offensive line up.”
Sturm, a sophomore, is earning her first all-conference honor after excelling in the pitcher’s circle as well as in the batter’s box in 2013. A two-time MAC West Pitcher of the Week, Sturm established career-highs in wins with 11, which also ranks ninth in the MAC and leads the team, in appearances (42) and innings pitched (165). She has posted a team-best 3.01 earned run average in 165 innings pitched. Offensively, she has 28 hits, including five doubles, two triples and two home runs, and 18 RBIs in 93 at bats for a .312 average, all career highs.
“Jess fought her way into the offensive line up,” Sutcliffe said. “We didn’t start the year thinking that was going to be her role, but she’s fought her way into that role and shown us that she can be a consistent force within the offensive line up, not just giving us innings on the mound.”
Northern Illinois, which is the No. 4 seed in the 2013 MAC Softball Tournament will face the winner of the Miami-Toledo game Wednesday, May 8, in Akron, Ohio. First pitch is set for 4 p.m. Central Time and fans can follow all the action live at the 2013 Mid-American Conference Championship Central.