Kaitlyn Richardson earns Academic All-America honors.

Marketing major and Gophers third baseman Kaitlyn Richardson is a triple threat. The softball prodigy is a dedicated teammate, an exceptional student, and an established leader. She attributes her excellence in sports and academics to a disciplined training and study regimen, and an ecosystem that supports student athletes.

But despite logging long hours on the field, Richardson prioritizes academics. She carries a 3.87 grade point average and revels in the competitive spirit of the Carlson School's curriculum. However , she's still unsure how she'll apply her talents, and chose to study marketing for its potential to apply to a plethora of careers.Richardson was instrumental in the Gophers Softball team's success this season. The team finished third in the Big Ten, and reached the NCAA tournament for the first time since 2003. Richardson was named to the Capital One Academic All-America Third Team, and is Minnesota softball's first All-American since 1998. She led the Gophers in batting average, on base percentage, slugging percentage, runs batted, and walks this season. She was among NCAA Division I leaders with a .430 (64-for-149) batting average and a .544 on base percentage in 55 games this season.

"My coach says most college students have three priorities: sports, academics, and a social life," says Richardson. "She says you're lucky if you master two out of three. I chose academics and sports."

Richardson is grateful for the comprehensive support the University of Minnesota offers its athletes. Head Coach Jessica Allister has been a key mentor for the young athlete, both on the field and in the classroom. The team's leadership was the deciding factor for Richardson to attend the University, who identified with the coaches' drive to win.

"Kaitlyn's impact on our program goes far beyond her success on the playing field. She sets the standard in practice, in the classroom, and in the community," says Allister. "It has been a lot of fun to see Katie's hard work pay off."

She hopes her upbringing in athletics will translate to the professional world. The commitment, teamwork, and leadership needed to win softball games may be the exact skills that will launch her career.