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Top Big Ten Newcomers To Watch In 2022

(Photo by Michigan Athletics)

The Big Ten is once again loaded with newcomer talent this year. Many of college softball's future stars will make their debuts in the Big Ten in 2022 and have the potential to lead their teams to deep runs in the postseason and success at the Women's College World Series for several years to come.

See below for the top newcomers to watch in the Big Ten this spring.

Emerson Aiken

Michigan

As one of the top 50 players in Softball America's 2021 Top 100 Recruiting Rankings, there is a lot of excitement surrounding right-handed pitcher Emerson Aiken. Aiken, who committed to Michigan in September of her junior year, shined at the high school and club levels and is now prepared to take her talents to the Big Ten.

A two-time Virginia Gatorade Player of the Year, Aiken excelled while pitching for Glen Allen High School. She finished her senior season with a perfect 12-0 record and 0.00 ERA with 119 strikeouts, only giving up eight hits and three walks in 48 innings pitched. She was also unstoppable at the plate, finishing the 2021 season with a .500 batting average and a .938 slugging percentage.

Only losing six games as a pitcher in her entire high school career, Aiken is ready for the crucial role she is likely to play on Carol Hutchins’ pitching staff this season.

Emily Leavitt

Minnesota

Ranked No. 26 in Softball America’s 2021 Top 100 Recruiting Rankings is Emily Leavitt, a right-handed pitcher from Southern California. Leavitt committed to the University of Minnesota in the fall of her junior year and will finally have the chance to put on a Gopher uniform this season.

At Ayala High School, Leavitt was the team’s consistent ace in the circle, finishing the 2021 season with a 0.70 ERA, five shutouts and 188 strikeouts. Notably, Leavitt had a record-breaking performance when she struck out 31 batters in Ayala’s 14-inning, 2-0 win over Glendora High School. Leavitt also excelled at the club level, playing for a talented Athletics Mercado team.

Leavitt is an excellent addition to a Minnesota team that came in second in the Big Ten last season.

Taylor Minnick

Indiana

A Bloomington local, outfielder Taylor Minnick is staying in her home state—and city—for her college years, as she gets ready to put on a Hoosier uniform for the first time. Originally committed to the University of Tennessee, Minnick ultimately decided to stay local where she will get the opportunity to shine on the softball field with her family by her side.

Minnick had a record-breaking senior season at Bloomington’s Edgewood High School, where she finished the year with a .596 batting average with 53 hits and 12 home runs. She finished her career as Edgewood’s record holder in batting average (.536), RBI (129) and doubles (35). Minnick played travel ball for the Beverly Bandits, helping them win the 2019 PGF Premier championship.

Playing in front of a home crowd, there is great excitement for the hometown hero to begin her college career.

Lauren Sciborski

Northwestern

As the only first-year from Northwestern in Softball America’s 2021 Top 100 Recruiting Rankings, catcher Lauren Sciborski will have the chance to play a huge role in the Wildcats’ success this season. Sciborski committed to Northwestern in the fall of her freshman year.

She helped her South Lyon East High School team break the Michigan High School Athletic Association’s single-season record for home runs. As one of only 10 players in the state of Michigan to hit over 20 home runs in a season, Sciborski propelled her team to finish with 67 home runs in 2021. Finishing her high school varsity seasons with an OPS over 1.000, she is a power hitter who will be a crucial addition to the Wildcats' lineup.

Sciborski will likely be a key contributor to Kate Drohan’s team, both offensively and defensively in 2022 and beyond.

Annabelle Widra

Michigan

The highest ranked Big Ten newcomer in Softball America’s 2021 Top 100 Recruiting Rankings is Annabelle Widra, a pitcher from Alabama. Ranked No. 18 in the class of 2021, Widra committed to Michigan in the fall of her junior year.

As the 2021 Alabama Gatorade Player of the Year, Widra was a dominant force in Spain Park High School’s circle during her high school years. She finished her senior season with a 20-5 record, 236 strikeouts and just 12 walks in 123 innings pitched. Widra was also a threat at the plate, where she hit .490 with 15 home runs and 49 RBI.

As a PGF All-American, Widra will likely be a crucial part of Michigan’s team for the next four seasons.

annabelle widra photo by michigan.jpg

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