Davis earns Big Ten Player of Year Award



By Jason Grodsky

Illinois junior catcher Lars Davis became the seventh Illini baseball player in the last 20 years to win the Big Ten Player of the Year Award on Tuesday. The Canadian catcher was also selected to the first team All-Big Ten.

Sophomore starting pitcher Tanner Roark and junior outfielder Daniel Webb were also selected to All-Big Ten Teams, Roark to the second team and Webb to the third team, while senior shortstop Shawn Roof was named Illinois’ Big Ten sportsmanship honoree.

Davis’ honor comes as no surprise to most people around the Big Ten. The junior backstop hit .416 on the season with 89 hits and led the Illini in RBIs (56), runs (53), home runs (13), slugging percentage (.673) and on-base percentage (.473). He finished the season leading the Big Ten in home runs, total bases and slugging percentage in all games. Davis was also brilliant behind the plate all season, throwing out a Big Ten leading 23 attempted base stealers.

The Illini catcher will look to increase his trophy case later this year as he is a semifinalist for the Coleman Company-Johnny Bench Award, given to the nation’s best catcher, and is on the watch list for USA Baseball’s Golden Spikes Award and the Brooks Wallace Player of the Year Award.

While Davis was a force at and behind the plate, Roark was a stud on the mound for the Illini. The sophomore lead the Big Ten in wins in conference games with seven, tying the Illinois school record for wins in the conference season. Roark finished the season at 7-2 overall with a 4.74 ERA and led the Illini in strikeouts with 44, earning him the second-team honor.

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Webb rounded out the Illini listed on All-Big Ten teams, making the third team as a designated hitter. Webb ended the season with a .333 batting average and was third on the team with 63 hits and 34 RBIs.

The four players honored Tuesday will led the Illini into its opening-round game in the Big Ten Tournament on Wednesday in Ann Arbor, Mich. Roark will get the start for the No. 5-seeded Illini against No. 4-seeded Iowa.