Foerster and Zalewski Earn Academic All-America Honors
The Spartans were one of four teams to place multiple athletes on the three Academic All-America teams.
EAST LANSING - Michigan State softball players Lea Foerster (Portage, Mich.) and Kristina Zalewski (Ann Arbor, Mich.) have earned Academic All-America honors, as announced by the College Sports Information Directors of America (CoSIDA) on Thursday, May 25.
The Spartans were one of four teams to place multiple athletes on the three Academic All-America teams, and the only school from the Big Ten Conference to do so. The B1G had a total of four athletes selected: Illinois’ Nicole Evans (first team) and Minnesota’s Sara Groenewegen (third team) were also honored.
In all, MSU now has 15 CoSIDA Academic All-America selections from the softball program in school history, the most of any women’s program at MSU and second behind football overall. MSU head coach Jacquie Joseph has coached 10 of those selections, the most Academic All-America honorees of any MSU coach in history.
“This is an incredible honor for these two athletes and our program,” noted Joseph, who recently completed her 24th season at Michigan State and won her 800th career game on May 12 at Michigan. “The dedication and attention to detail that these players put into excelling for us on the field as well as in the classroom is certainly something to be recognized as well as celebrated. Lea and Kristina are such a huge part of our success in both areas, and I am thrilled that they are being recognized among the top student-athletes in the country. “
Foerster, a 3.7 cumulative GPA as a kinesiology major, recently completed a junior season that was among the most prolific offensive campaigns in school history. She established new MSU single-season records in runs (70), doubles (26), and extra-base hits (42); was 7th in batting average (.398), sixth in hits (72), and fourth in RBI (49).
The Spartan centerfielder leads the nation in doubles (26), is third in runs per game (1.21) and total bases (144), and is also among national leaders in slugging pct. (.796, 26th) and on-base percentage (.520, 27th). Foerster is a First Team NFCA First-Team All-Great Lakes Region pick, and earned First Team All-Big Ten honors in addition to being voted to the Big Ten All-Defensive team, as she did not commit an error in 58 games this season. She was also on the Big Ten All-Tournament Team.
Foerster became MSU’s career doubles (53) and run-scoring leader (158) as a junior, and ranks second all-time for the Spartans in extra base hits (86) and batting average (.367), 10th in triples (10) sixth in homers (23), and ninth in RBI (103).
Zalewski missed much of the pre-Big Ten schedule while rehabilitating from an off-season surgery, but the Spartan ace still managed to make a significant contribution to the Spartan successes in 2017. Boasting a perfect 4.0 GPA over eight semesters as a nutritional science major, Zalewski posted a 3.45 ERA in 125.2 innings pitched, ranking seventh in the Big Ten overall in strikeouts and eighth in strikeouts looking (31). Despite missing more than half of the overall Spartan schedule, she also ranks fifth in the Big Ten in saves (3) and is eighth in games started (25).
With 473 career strikeouts, Zalewski is now second all-time at MSU and ranks 45th among active pitchers in Division I softball, one of 14 juniors on that list. She is one of five pitchers at MSU to have reached the 400-strikeout mark - Jessica Beech is the all-time leader with 659. She also ranks in a tie for second all-time in the Spartan annals in saves (11), is sixth in innings pitched (537.0), and falls eighth in career victories (38).