5 All-Big Ten selections returning to Northwestern Wildcats softball team next season

Northwestern softball, fresh off its first Women's College World Series appearance in 15 years, announced Thursday that five of its senior All-Big Ten players, including All-Americans Danielle Williams and Jordyn Rudd, will return next season.

When COVID-19 interrupted the 2020 season, NCAA athletes were granted an extra year of eligibility, creating a category of so-called super seniors.

Williams, a first-team All-American and the Big Ten Pitcher of the Year, was 31-6 with a 2.09 ERA this season. Her 333 strikeouts were the third-most in the country.

Rudd, a third-team All-American, led the team with a .370 batting average.

Nikki Cuchran, Maeve Nelson and Skyler Shellmyer -- All-Big Ten selections -- joined Rudd and Williams in announcing their return.

Northwestern finished 45-13 this season and hosted an NCAA regional, beating Oakland and McNeese State to advance in the tournament.

The Wildcats then beat No. 8-seed Arizona State to reach the program's first WCWS since 2007. Northwestern was eliminated after losing to eventual national champion Oklahoma and No. 5-seed UCLA.