Three wins over the weekend culminated in a record-breaking home crowd for the Minnesota softball team. The fifth-ranked Gophers softball program (43-3, 16-1 Big Ten) capped off a three-game sweep of the Iowa Hawkeyes (15-27, 7-10 Big Ten) in front of a record crowd of 1,383 on Sunday. “Today’s crowd was unbelievable,” head coach Jessica Allister said.
Minnesota head coach Jessica Allister has said all season that if her team performs three facets of the game —offense, defense and pitching — well, they will have a good chance to win. This weekend, the Gophers excelled at all three. No. 6 Minnesota (38-3, 10-1 Big Ten) battled through three Friday night rain delays to earn a weekend sweep of Northwestern (16-23, 3-9 Big Ten). “I think we had a couple of different curveballs thrown at us [this weekend] — Friday night we had three different rain delays,” Allister said.
A lot has happened for Gophers softball in the past four seasons — and Sam Macken has been an integral part throughout it all. She was thrown into the fire almost as soon as she stepped onto the Minnesota campus and proved she could handle the pressure just as quickly. She came up big in moments when it mattered at the plate as a rookie, which included a walk-off single to beat Michigan in the Big Ten Tournament title game and a three-run home run against Auburn to send Minnesota to its first-ever Super Regional. “Sam loves softball,” said head coach Jessica Allister.
Offense has been the story for the Gophers softball team as of late and the scoring showed no interest in a conclusion this weekend. With a big weekend from the middle of the lineup, No. 7 Minnesota (35-3, 8-1 Big Ten) swept Indiana (17-21, 3-6 Big Ten), boosting the Gophers to a tie for first place atop the Big Ten. “We swung the bats well,” said head coach Jessica Allister.
Every team needs a joker, and for the Gophers softball team, it’s Sydney Dwyer. Dwyer, a junior infielder, carries a reputation for cracking up her teammates — an importantasset in a long, road-heavy softball season. “She’s definitely one of the funniest people I’ve met in my entire life,” said senior pitcher Sara Groenewegen.
Where there’s smoke, there’s fire — and perhaps nowhere more so than in the Gophers softball batting order. No. 7 Minnesota (32-3, 5-1 Big Ten) once again showcased its offensive firepower in two victories over South Dakota (12-22, 3-3 Summit) on Tuesday at Jane Sage Cowles Stadium — the Gophers’ home opener. “It was wonderful — we love playing at home,” said head coach Jessica Allister.
The No. 6 Gophers softball team won their second Big Ten series of the season this weekend. Minnesota (30-3, 5-1 Big Ten) took two of three games against Illinois (24-10, 4-2 Big Ten) to continue its hot start to the conference schedule. The weekend started with a bang on Friday, when the Gophers offense showed its strength once again. Though relatively quiet through the first four innings, Minnesota held a 2-0 lead heading to the top of the fifth. Then the bats exploded. The Gophers put up a 10 runs in the fifth inning, with catcher Kendyl Lindaman hitting two home runs, including a grand slam.
Amber Fiser’s calm demeanor seems contrary to what’s expected of a stereotypical fighter. While her focus is certainly on softball now, Fiser was a two-sport athlete growing up, and the second sport may surprise you — she holds a first-degree black belt in Taekwondo. Fiser recalled one particular instance when she was disqualified from a match for an illegal head kick.
The Gophers softball team continued its non-conference success into the conference schedule this weekend. No. 8 Minnesota (28-2, 3-0 Big Ten) swept Nebraska (8-20, 0-3 Big Ten) in the Big Ten opening series for both teams in Lincoln, Nebraska this weekend. “Anytime you win three games in the Big Ten it’s a good weekend,” said head coach Jessica Allister.
When you’ve only lost two of your first 27 games, one might say you have the right to be confident. That’s exactly the mentality the eighth-ranked Gophers softball team is channeling when heading into this weekend’s Big Ten opener at Nebraska (7-17). “I think it would be a mistake not to draw confidence from the preseason we’ve put together,” said head coach Jessica Allister.