The Gophers will kick off their first extended home stand Wednesday with a doubleheader against North Dakota State University ahead of its weekend series with No. 20 Michigan, the Big Ten’s top team.
Head coach Jessica Allister said her team is focused on NDSU and not looking ahead to its date with Michigan.
Minnesota swept NDSU in an Oct. 8 doubleheader the last time the two teams faced off. The Gophers took game one 4-1 behind a bases-clearing double by catcher Kari Dorle. Center fielder Bree Blanchette drove in four runs in the second game en route to an 8-3 win.
Now, the stakes are different, and Allister said facing NDSU in exhibition play doesn’t help get a sense of what to expect.
“Everybody is trying people [to play] new positions; it’s a whole new ballgame [now],” Allister said.
The Bison (28-14) are 14-3 since March 14 and have won their last three games.
Allister said she knows her team is ready to face NDSU, which she called “a very, very good team.”
“Any time Minnesota plays North Dakota State in anything it’s a little bit of a grudge match, so it’s a huge [series],” Allister said.
This is the second consecutive week that the team has had a nonconference midweek series.
Minnesota (24-15, 5-7 Big Ten) split its midweek series last week against University of Wisconsin-Green Bay but won two of three games against Northwestern last weekend.
The weekend featured blowout wins from both teams and an extra inning game the Gophers won.
Minnesota played a back-and-forth game in the series finale before scoring three eighth-inning runs.
Allister said perseverance is the “mark of a good team” and something the team had been struggling with, so the win — and the series win — was big for the Gophers.
With less than one-third of the season remaining, Minnesota is near the middle of the pack in the Big Ten.
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