June 17, 2010
IOWA CITY – The University of Iowa softball team has named its annual team award winners. Student-athletes receiving awards include Taylor Leichsenring, Sam Valentine, Katie Keim, Katie Brown and Lindsey Digmann.
Leichsenring was named the team’s Most Improved Player. The Amana, IA, native was a second team all-Big Ten selection and played in all 48 games with 47 starts. She was third on the team with a .390 batting average during conference play and led the team with nine sacrifice hits. Leichsenring ended the season on a 10-game hitting streak.
“It is highly unusual for a senior to receive this award,” Gayle Blevins said. “Taylor deserved it. Her progress from the first half of the season to the second half was phenomenal. I believe Taylor decided to go all out, to have no regrets. She developed from a one-dimensional offensive threat to a multi-dimensional one. Taylor made herself one of the most difficult outs in our offensive lineup. I am very proud of the effort and approach that I observed in Taylor and I commend her for an impressive finish to her college career.”
The Peg Augspurger Hawkeye Heart Award was given to freshman Sam Valentine. She appeared in 34 games with three starts, including two as the designated player and one at second base. Valentine scored 17 runs and stole six bases in her first season at Iowa.
The Peg Augspurger Hawkeye Heart Award is given in honor of a former Hawkeye, now deceased. Peg Augsupurger was a pitcher at Iowa from 1977-79. She battled through tremendous health issues with diabetes which ultimately resulted in her untimely death at a very early age.
“Peg’s teammates remember her tremendous spirit, humor, love of life and her undying dedication to Iowa,” Blevins said. “Peg personified the true heart of a Hawkeye, so it is with great pleasure that we honor her by naming a recepient.
Sam Valentine demonstrated great pleasure in being a Hawkeye. Every day was special for her as she never lost sight of what it means to wear the Black and Gold. She honored our program with a positive, determined attitude. She did whatever was asked of her for the good of the team. Playing time was limited, yet Sam always came ready to make the program better. Her dedication, positive spirit, and appreciation for opportunities afforded her made her a special addition to our team.”
Sophomore Katie Keim was named the team’s Gold Glove winner. Keim made numerous highlight-reel plays around the Hawkeye infield and solidified her position at third base midway through the season.
“Katie showed great resolve in her play this year,” Blevins said. “She was moved around the infield in an effort to help us put together the best defense that we could. She started at third base, a position she played in her freshman year, moved to shortstop in our preseason, then to second and eventually back to third. Katie never complained. She came in for extra reps in order to get more comfortable and to play with greater confidence. To ask someone to go through what Katie did is sometimes the most difficult thing to do. Katie did it because she trusted us and believed in what we were doing. She did her best wherever I asked her to play. A coach can ask no more of an athlete than that.”
The Coaches Award was given to senior Katie Brown. She was an ESPN the Magazine second team academic all-district selection and an academic all-Big Ten pick. She started all 48 games at first base and led the team with seven doubles. Brown returned to the pitcher’s circle as a senior, appearing in seven games.
“Our Coaches Award is given to the person who best demonstrates the dedication, commitment and perseverance necessary to move the team in a positive direction. Being coachable is also a huge part of this award and this involves staying open and receptive to the coaches. Katie demonstrated great passion for the game. The manner in which she prepared was consistent every day. She lead by example with her preparation and tremendous drive. Katie did not have a spectacular year, statistically, but she did so in her attitude and effort. At times, it was a very hard year for her, much harder than it should have been. However, Katie never gave in or gave up. She continued to come early and work at her craft. Katie did everything we asked and she believed in everything we asked. She continued her dedication and commitment to Iowa softball. I could not be more proud of a young person than I am of Katie Brown.”
Senior Lindsey Digmann was named the All-Around Award recipient. The Marion, IA, native played wherever she was needed, registering 24 starts at third base, 14 at second base, two in left field, two in center field and one as the designated player. She was a Louisville Slugger/NFCA second team all-region pick and a third team all-Big Ten selection. Digmann led the team with a .357 batting average and 17 stolen bases.
“I remember watching Diggs play in high school and she had a special presence on her team way back then,” Blevins said. “She played hard, with no hesitation. She did everything in her power to help her team succeed. This spirit is what I most loved about her then and continue to do so today. Diggs was our heartbeat this year. No one has roamed more across the field in her career than Diggs. As we struggled in the infield this fall, she waited patiently for me to ask her to come back into the infield from the outfield and help us solidify our defense. This was a tough challenge, especially in her senior season. She did it with no hesitation. Unfortunately, injuries played a huge part in her career. Through every one of these, Diggs never quit giving to her team. She tried valiantly to come back from a severe hamstring pull late in our season this year. When it became apparent this was not going to happen, Diggs pulled hard on the bench to will her team to win. There is no better spirit to have in a team than this. Her heart, her effort, her dedication; these are the qualities that make her our All-Around recipient. She not only taught her teammates what it means to be a Hawkeye, she reminded our fans and every little girl who watched us this year exactly what this is.”