Madison, WI – May 21, 2013. University of Illinois pitcher Kevin Duchene, who will be playing for the Mallards this summer at the "Duck Pond," was named the Big Ten Freshman of the Year on Tuesday.
The southpaw went 8-1 in his first season with the Fighting Illini, and his eight wins tied for the Big Ten lead and equaled the most victories by a freshman in Illinois history.
"I was very shocked," the 6’2," 200-pound native of Joliet, Illinois said. "I’m not too worried about getting that award. It’s nice, but the only reason I got it was because we have three First-Team All-Big Ten and another Second-Team selection. They make my life really easy."
Duchene steadily improved throughout the season, as he saved his best for the Big Ten schedule. During the 24-game Big Ten schedule, he went 3-0 in seven appearances and recorded an ERA of just 1.74, which was third-best in the conference. His 2.67 ERA throughout the season was eighth best in the conference.
He matched the most strikeouts by an Illini in one game since 2002 with his 11-strikeout performance against Penn State on May 10th. He went the whole nine innings and gave up only two hits while walking only one.
Duchene attributed a lot of his success this season to freshman catcher Jason Goldstein, who will also be coming to Madison to play for the Mallards this summer and made the Freshman First-Team All-Big Ten team. He said the relationship they have formed this season is making him anxious for the Mallards season to begin.
"I couldn’t have asked for a better freshman catcher to be with," Duchene said. "Him and I are really on the same page and he’s really open-minded and knows the game more so than anybody I think I’ve ever played with."
Duchene and Goldstein join some other notable Fighting Illini players who have played for the Mallards. Justin Parr, who was second in the nation in hitting this season and won the Big Ten Player of the Year award Tuesday, played for the Mallards in 2010 and 2011.
"He’s telling us how much we’re going to love it, how good of an experience it is and just how great of a culture the Mallards have up there," Duchene said.
The Mallards will host their season opener against the Eau Claire Express on May 29th at 7:05 pm at the "Duck Pond." Single-game tickets are on sale now!
The Madison Mallards are part of the 16-team Northwoods League. The Northwoods League has more teams, plays more games, and draws more fans than any other Summer Collegiate Baseball League in North America. In 2013, the Northwoods League will celebrate its 20th season.