As a freshman, Erica Meyer stepped across the plate during her at-bats.
So to combat that tendency, assistant coach Jessica Merchant gave her a string to help her technique.
Meyer, now a senior, is currently third on the team with a .514 batting average. Her four home runs this season tie sophomore Sara Groenewegen for the team lead — a sign that Merchant’s string technique helped Meyer freshman year and beyond.
Meyer named her string Ernie. And as a result, her team named her Bert.
“I can’t remember the last time I called her Erica,” Merchant said.
Though Bert no longer has the same need for Ernie, the infielder’s technique is still improving.
“There’s always something that can be fixed, and for me, it’s staying on my back leg and staying behind the ball so I can get my hands out,” Meyer said.
Her progression hasn’t always come easy, though.
During her four years at Minnesota, Meyer’s confidence at the plate has been a point of emphasis.
“I think the main thing I’ve had to do is learn how to control my mental game. I think that’s what I’ve struggled most with,” Meyer said.
In practice, Merchant primarily works with Minnesota’s infielders, including Meyer.
“On and off the field, [Meyers has] been carrying herself great as a leader. Everything Bert does — she’s been leading the team by example,” Merchant said.
At the Gophers’ last tournament, Meyer demonstrated those abilities and led the team at the plate.
Her .600 batting average and three home runs helped Minnesota win all five games it played.
“Erica did a tremendous job getting things going for us,” head coach Jessica Allister said on Sunday.
Meyer’s effort earned her recognition. The conference named her the Big Ten Co-Player of the Week on Monday.
“The biggest thing I think [I’ve] seen out of Erica is that she’s willing to put in the work. Whether it’s the summer or the winter or the fall, she’s always in there doing extra,” Merchant said. “She’s always physically ready for the demands we ask them to do. That’s the goal for her senior year, and I think she’s going to put it all together.”
Last season, Meyer’s junior year included a trip to the NCAA Super Regional for the first time in program history.
But this year, Meyer has bigger plans.
“You always want to go out with a bang,” Meyer said. “I think that’s what you want as a senior.”