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.
Brett Pfarr only won one state title while at LeSeur-Henderson High School — making it all the more gratifying when he took the mat to wrestle for an NCAA championship last weekend. The redshirt senior made his first appearance in an NCAA title match at 197 pounds, falling to top-ranked — and Olympic bronze medalist — J’den Cox of Missouri by 8-2 decision. “I made the most of every moment,” said Pfarr. “It was an incredible experience.”
Although its perfect record is no longer, the Gophers softball team isn’t worried. No. 8 Minnesota (25-2) suffered its first losses of the season over spring break and fell twice to No. 6 Washington in Seattle — part of the Gophers’ 3-2 start to break in the Husky Classic. “I don’t think anything’s really changed,” said head coach Jessica Allister.
Tori Finucane admits the thought of joining a new team was a bit intimidating at first. The senior pitcher transferred to Minnesota this year from Missouri, where she was a two-time 21-game winner and SEC Freshman of the Year in 2014. “I think it was more scary than anything,” Finucane said of her transfer.
The Gophers wrestling team used performances from some surprise NCAA qualifiers to boost itself to a fifth-place finish at llast weekend’s Big Ten championships. The No. 13 Gophers (7-5, 5-4 Big Ten) entered the weekend as the seventh-ranked Big Ten team in the nation according to Intermat, but thanks to nine NCAA qualifiers, were able to jump Rutgers and Illinois for the fifth spot.
If what the Gophers faced in Baton Rouge over the weekend could be considered its first exam, consider it passed. No. 10 Minnesota won four games — including a Saturday night tilt over No. 13 LSU — on its way to setting a new program-record win streak at 18 games.
Last year, Dani Wagner recorded just eight at-bats with a total of zero hits. Fast forward a year, and Wagner is hitting .359, is third on the Gophers in RBI and has two walk-off hits.
It wasn’t always easy, but the Minnesota softball team extended its program-best start to 14-0. The No. 12 Gophers used a strong balance of hitting and pitching — including breakout performances from a few newcomers — to win all five weekend games. Minnesota opened the tournament on Friday with a pair of decisive victories, the first against UC-Davis.
The Gophers softball team is off to the best start in program history, and a big part of that comes from a group one may not normally attribute to: freshmen. No. 12 Minnesota’s group of seven newcomers has made itself known early, with position players and pitchers alike among the team leaders in multiple stat categories. “They’re softball players, not freshmen,” said head coach Jessica Allister.
An early upset by Chris Pfarr over a top-ten wrestler set the tone for Minnesota on Sunday against Iowa State. The No. 13 Gophers (7-5, 5-4 Big Ten) didn’t look back and earned bonus points in seven of their eight victories to secure a 40-7 win over the Cyclones in Ames, Iowa.