Ahh, it's officially summer. Why? Well, those of us who cover the Badgers on a daily basis know it's summer because the athletics department and the Big Ten offices start handing out there end of the year awards. On Friday afternoon the Badgers did just that naming star running back Montee Ball as the Male Athlete of the Year and star softball pitcher Cassandra Darrah as the Female Athlete of the Year.
For us here at MTB both were pretty slam dunk choices if you ask us. Sure, there were a ton of great performances across Wisconsin athletics, after all, we have been discussing just how historically good this season has been at the UW. But, in the end these two rose clear to the top rather easily.
Ball of course, holds the all-time career TD's mark in FBS history with 83. He managed to lead the Big Ten in rushing with 1,830 yards, third best in the nation, on a team that struggled to get the ball rolling in the running game early on thanks to an offensive line coaching situation that wasn't working out.
He was named the MVP of the 2012 Big Ten Championship game and was named the Doak Walker Award winner (given to the Nation's best running back). Additionally, Ball became the only player in Rose Bowl history to rush for over 100 yards in three straight Rose Bowls.
It's pretty safe to say this was a season and a career for the ages.
On the female side of things Darrah was about as dominant as you can get from the circle. She went 27-7 on the season and was named first team All-Big Ten and as 2013 Big Ten Tournament MVP for her performance in leading the Badgers softball team to their first ever conference title of any kind in the sport.
She also led the team to a W in the NCAA tournament for the first time in school history. For her three game effort in the Eugene regional she was named to the All-Regional team, recording a 1.67 ERA and 13 K's.
Darrah will be back for her final season next year and that has UW fans anxious to see what she and this team could have for an encore after a school record 44 win season in 2013.
Overall it's very hard to argue with the choices made here by the Badgers athletics department. Both will be up for Big Ten's end of season awards with Ball going for the Jesse Owens Male Athlete of the Year and Darrah for the award named after UW legend Suzy Favor.