LBy Sam Campanaro
ast Sunday was an eye opener for Minnesota's softball team. Northwestern fought hard against the Gophers, forcing team unity to be mandatory.
Minnesota grasped the concept of what teamwork can truly accomplish in its two wins against the Wildcats. The notion wasn't one that coaches forced on the Gophers.
It just happened.
The plan for tonight and the rest of the weekend is to carry over that "working together" mentality.
Minnesota (32-15, 8-6 Big Ten) faces Ohio State (23-14, 4-6) tonight and Saturday. Sunday the Gophers will have a go at Penn State (24-17, 6-6) in a double header.
The Gophers return home to Jane Sage Cowles Stadium for the final eight-game stretch of the regular season.
"Coming out 4-0 (this weekend) would put us on the right track," third baseman Jordanne Nygren said.
In the eyes of the players and coaches, the right track started last weekend.
Facing the Lions will be the greater task for the Gophers. Penn State falls one spot below Minnesota's fifth place in the conference standings.
Minnesota is hoping recent history repeats itself.
The Gophers competed on a Sunday in a double header against the team directly below them last weekend and came out with a successful outcome.
A positive team attitude should direct the Gophers on a similar path this weekend. The road to a 4-0 weekend requires every player doing her part.
"I want people to be warriors out there," co-head coach Lisa Bernstein said. "They need to have an absolute work together, win together, stick together attitude."
Along with team unity, injuries are also some of those things that just sort of happen.
However, the injured duo of Hailee Nanchy and Stefanie Watt are not hampering the plans for Minnesota this weekend.
Nanchy suffered a broken arm and Watt required stitches in her knee following last Sunday's action.
Despite the laceration, Watt will likely play in the outfield and Angie Recknor is the presumed candidate to take over at first base for Nanchy.
The coaching staff has confidence the team will adjust to any bumps it encounters. The Gophers simply need to play their kind of softball.
"We really need to come out and battle and fight to win every inning," Bernstein said.
The theme of teamwork will hopefully carry over for not only this weekend, but for the rest of the season as well.
The Gophers hope to play in the postseason regional tournament and the College World Series.
It's been a year long process to get the team on the path to success. Minnesota's attitude will help to take the stride to the next level.
Whether the Gophers get easy wins this weekend or they struggle, through, they now have the mentality to carry on through the season.
Sam Campanaro covers softball and welcomes
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