The 2015 Minnesota Softball season is approaching. The Gophers are coming off their best season in program history, a season that included the school's first Big Ten Tournament title since 1999 and its first-ever NCAA super regional appearance. This year's team will look to build on last year's success. The 42nd Gopher softball team will feature 22 student-athletes and each one has her own story. As the team's Feb. 6 opener against Washington gets closer, each player will look back on her journey to wearing the Maroon and Gold.



Coach Allister on No. 12, Hannah Evavold: "Hannah put in good work with Coach Ritter this fall. She will provide our pitching staff with additional depth this spring."
My Gopher Softball journey started as a little girl. Never having thrown a softball underhand, I attended my first-ever pitching lesson on my 13th birthday. Starting late, my instructor always joked around that I was her first client to have no idea what an arm circle was. I was her first client starting from scratch.

After that first lesson, I told my parents that I wanted to be a Gopher Softball pitcher because that's where my pitching instructor had attended school and played.

From then on, I caught on fast and was competing as a pitcher in no time within my age group. By the time I was in eighth grade, I was pitching for my varsity high school team against Sara Moulton, a former Gopher Softball pitcher who now plays for the Chicago Bandits. This is when Coach Ritter first saw me play because she was recruiting Sara Moulton at the time (I did not know this until my first recruiting visit).

As I grew up and started looking into different schools around my sophomore year in high school, I realized I had no idea where I wanted to attend school. It got to the point where my parents had to buy me a map and marker and I sat and crossed out states where I was not interested in attending college. My parents were great throughout this entire process, allowing me to travel to schools all over. At this time I was never thinking I would play softball at a school only 20 minutes away from my hometown. Then, I began getting letters from the coaches here and I was asked to come on a visit my junior year in high school. I fell in love.

I was always worried about being on such a large campus with so many students, but when I got on campus it suddenly didn't seem so big. All I could focus on was the great school spirit, location of campus, and how great all of the girls seemed to get along with each other and the coaches. Being around the girls and coaches more, I knew this was the place I wanted to be. There is a special feeling when you find the team and coaches you know care so much about you as an overall player, student, and person. This is what I found here and I couldn't be more thankful.

Freshman year was definitely a learning experience. At the beginning of the year, I had an older teammate tell me that she learned so much freshman year. Not specifically learning in classes or on the field, but learned so much about life in general.

Reflecting back on last year, this statement is extremely true. I could not describe freshman year any better. You learn a lot about life when living alone for the first time and being challenged both athletically and academically more than you ever have. My teammates have continuously been great role models for me and all-around great people. I could not be more thankful.

Last year's season was an exciting season to come into as a freshman. I learned to work harder at something than I ever have in my entire life with people around me who all had the same aspirations and goals. I had never been a part of a team that has been so excited to go to practice every day or a team that holds each other to such high standards. Our energy was always great together on and off the field and I believe this is one of the things that made us so successful. Every single one of us was genuinely happy for everyone else with our on- and off-the-field achievements. This teamwork led us to win out first Big Ten Championship in many years.

Still to this day, I go back and watch the highlights from the Big Ten Tournament and get shivers and teary-eyed because it brings me such joy and excitement for the upcoming years.

This year's team is also extremely hard-working and the freshmen have clicked tremendously. They are already some of my best friends and I know will be for the rest of my life. Fall went great and I can't wait to get on the road for season to start.

We have been in a continuous countdown every day and the excitement in the locker room is continuing to increase. This team is special--not everyone has 21 teammates who can make them laugh when they are having an off day. But here, I could not thank God anymore. I am blessed to have the coaches and teammates I do in my life every day. It makes the experience so much more special.

The 2015 Minnesota Softball season is approaching. The Gophers are coming off their best season in program history, a season that included the school's first Big Ten Tournament title since 1999 and its first-ever NCAA super regional appearance. This year's team will look to build on last year's success. The 42nd Gopher softball team will feature 22 student-athletes and each one has her own story. As the team's Feb. 6 opener against Washington gets closer, each player will look back on her journey to wearing the Maroon and Gold.



Coach Allister on No. 13, Madie Eckstrom: "Madie is a left-handed hitter who possesses power to all fields. She will compete for time at the designated player position, and could also give us a great option in pinch-hitting situations."
I consider myself extremely lucky to have been recruited by Coach Allister and Coach Merchant. To be quite honest, I never thought that I would play at this level or even play softball after high school, so when I received my first phone call from an unknown number while watching Harry Potter, I was surprised to hear Coach Allister's voice on the other end.

Once I met Coach Allister in person and heard her vision for Gopher Softball, I was hooked. At that point, I knew without a doubt that I wanted to be a part of her vision. I remember talking with my parents about my decision to commit to Minnesota and how excited I was to start a legacy there.

My future was decided and in the fall of 2011, I officially became a Minnesota Gopher and a member of the Gopher Softball team.

In the fall of 2011, I came to the university wide-eyed and to be quite honest, having no idea of what was about to happen to my life. Let me just say, that first month or so was one of the hardest times of my life. I came in mentally and physically under par and had a lot of work to do in order to catch up with everyone else and excel.

Looking back, I am extremely grateful that I was pushed so hard during that time because it not only made me mentally tough, but physically strong. I am most thankful that I was able to develop mental toughness because that skill has allowed me to overcome some fairly intense moments that life has thrown my way.

Being a part of the 2011 class was and is the best thing to ever happen to me. I came in knowing that these six girls would be my teammates for four years. What I didn't know was that they would become my best friends. We all have different personalities, but I think that is why we clicked so well. These six girls really became my family and I learned that could be myself around them early on. I think that because of how close our class is, as well as our entire team, our team has accomplished so much.

Speaking of accomplishments, winning the 2014 B1G Championship was ABSOLUTELY amazing! What our team did last year--becoming Big Ten champs, becoming regional champs, and making it to the Oregon Super Regional along with many other triumphs--has only increased my personal zeal to be even better for the 2015 season.

The expectations for the 2015 Gopher Softball team and season have increased exponentially. We've had a taste of success and we want more. Every single one of my teammates have rocketed past these expectations and raised the bar for our team and it's goals. The hard work and dedication that I have seen from these girls in the past five months is something that I have never seen before and shows how much we as a team want to bring Gopher Softball into the spotlight.

Don't worry about us, 'cause we will be coming for you.

The 2015 Minnesota Softball season is approaching. The Gophers are coming off their best season in program history, a season that included the school's first Big Ten Tournament title since 1999 and its first-ever NCAA super regional appearance. This year's team will look to build on last year's success. The 42nd Gopher softball team will feature 22 student-athletes and each one has her own story. As the team's Feb. 6 opener against Washington gets closer, each player will look back on her journey to wearing the Maroon and Gold.



Coach Allister on No. 14, Hannah Granger: "Hannah is a diligent worker that continues to improve upon all aspects of her game each and every year. An outfielder with the ability to hit for power to all fields, Hannah will compete for time in the grass and at the designated player position."
I have always considered myself to be a person who has been in the right place at the right time and becoming a part of the Gopher Softball family was one of those lucky moments for me.

I began playing softball at the age of five in Indiana before moving to Illinois at age six. By the time I had reached fifth grade, I knew softball was something I wanted to continue to do for a long time. At that point, my parents thought it would be a good idea to sign me up for a more competitive travel team, the Wheaton Wildcats. Throughout the five summers I spent with the Wildcats, I learned that being part of a sports team was more like a family than I had originally anticipated. These teammates and their families grew to be my family and still are to this day.

However, I knew that if I wanted to continue playing softball at the college level, I would have to find an even more competitive team to play with so I could have some exposure to college coaches. Thus, for the last three summers of my high school career, I played for the Lemont Rockers. We traveled all over the country and were seen by many coaches. Little did I know, luck would bring me to a tournament in my home state where I was then recruited.

It was the fall of my senior year and I had been filling out applications for many schools already. I have known I wanted to be a teacher since I was in eighth grade, so I applied to three or four schools with great education programs, and at this point, Minnesota was not even on my radar.

We had a tournament a few weekends before Thanksgiving where I knew quite a few college coaches would be in attendance, but I really had gotten to the point where I just wanted to enjoy my last few months of playing softball with my friends; I didn't think it was even still possible for me to get recruited. However, a homerun and a couple plays in the outfield later, I caught the attention of Coach Allister as she was passing by our game and after the game, she asked me to come to Minnesota for a visit.

I instantly fell in love with the school, the atmosphere, and the vision the coaches had for the program. The last day of my visit, Coach Allister let me know the deal and I immediately said, "I'm in, Coach!"

That was probably the luckiest moment of my life. I did not know it at that point, but those coaches that sat before me, and the teammates I would come to know, have truly become my family. They have helped me through the hardest time in my life and are continually supporting me every day in everything that I do. I could not have asked for a better place to spend my four years in college.

Now, my mom always despised me saying I was lucky because she believed that people "make their own luck". However, as true as that may be, I still have to say, I am truly blessed to be where I am today. I am looking forward to diving into my senior season with this incredible team and give our best effort to return to the Big Ten Championship and postseason. I believe we have all the right parts to make Gopher Softball a well-oiled machine. I am so excited to see what trials and successes this season has in store for us! Go Gophers!

The 2015 Minnesota Softball season is approaching. The Gophers are coming off their best season in program history, a season that included the school's first Big Ten Tournament title since 1999 and its first-ever NCAA super regional appearance. This year's team will look to build on last year's success. The 42nd Gopher softball team will feature 22 student-athletes and each one has her own story. As the team's Feb. 6 opener against Washington gets closer, each player will look back on her journey to wearing the Maroon and Gold.



Coach Allister on No. 15, Erika Rozell: "Erika is a tremendous athlete that can hit for power and run. She has the potential to develop into an every day player either behind the plate or in the outfield."
Growing up, I played many different sports because I loved being active and being able to compete. I always knew that I wanted to play a sport in college, but never really knew which one. I knew that if I wanted to get recruited by college coaches, I would need to play at a higher level. I joined a club team in seventh grade and this was the beginning of my journey. After one year of playing at the elite level, my love for the game increased immensely.

One thing that my club coach emphasized was going to college camps to get exposure. As an eighth grader, I began my college search. I attended camps at different schools in and around Minnesota in search for a place that I could excel academically and also athletically. I went to a countless number of camps but none of them had the combinations of what I wanted in a school. It wasn't until my sophomore year of high school that I ended up at a Gopher softball camp and I loved every second of it.

I went on an unofficial visit during the fall of my junior year. During this visit, I was able to meet some of the players, tour the school, and attend Gopher sporting events. During this visit, I fell in love with every aspect of the school.

I chose the University of Minnesota for many different reasons. One thing I wanted in the school that I attended for college was to be close to a city, and with the U being located in Minneapolis, I thought this would be the perfect fit all around. I knew I wanted to go to a big school, and the U was one of the largest schools on my list. The main reason I chose to attend the U of M was because I would be able to play Division I and represent my home state.

My favorite part of the transition into becoming a college student was all of the freedom that comes along with it. In my first semester of college, I learned so much about independence and responsibility.

When I went on my official visit, I absolutely loved spending time and getting to know the team. As for working out in the summer, I am lucky because I live so close to campus. I was able to come in and lift the first couple weeks before I got on campus. This helped me a lot because I was able to learn all of the different lifts.

As soon as I arrived on campus, I felt at home. It is such a great experience being on a team with so many individuals that all have a common goal.

There are no words to describe what it was like to watch them on TV as they won a Big Ten championship. All I knew is that I wanted to be a part of something as great as that.

It is such an amazing experience being able to play on the same field as people that I have watched on the team over the past couple of years.

As for this upcoming season, I cannot wait for games to start. I am so excited to continue practicing with the team and getting better every single day. Being a part of this team is the best thing that has ever happened to me.

The 2015 Minnesota Softball season is approaching. The Gophers are coming off their best season in program history, a season that included the school's first Big Ten Tournament title since 1999 and its first-ever NCAA super regional appearance. This year's team will look to build on last year's success. The 42nd Gopher softball team will feature 22 student-athletes and each one has her own story. As the team's Feb. 6 opener against Washington gets closer, each player will look back on her journey to wearing the Maroon and Gold.



Coach Allister on No. 16, Taylor LeMay: "Taylor did a tremendous job for us as a rookie behind the plate last spring. She worked diligently this fall to improve her defensive skill set and will continue to be an offensive threat in the middle of our lineup."
Everyone growing up has what he or she would call their "dream school". Some dream schools are where their parents went or the school with the cool colors and the awesome mascot. Others are the school that represents your state and the one you grew up watching for as long as you can remember. That was the case with me. I have been a fan of the Golden Gophers my whole life. I come from a family that is very passionate about Gopher sports, so most of my weekends had the maroon and gold covering the television screen or we went to games in person. I quickly realized the U of M was my dream school and that I would attend this University some day.

As my passion grew for softball, I also knew I wanted to play ball here. I vividly remember a day my grandpa and I went to a Gopher softball game when I was in sixth grade and I spent the whole doubleheader watching the catcher. I sat there telling myself that someday I would be in her shoes and it would be me behind the plate. So I guess you could say my journey to the University of Minnesota began long before any recruiting started.

Unfortunately, I did not start my softball career at the U of M. I spend my freshman year at a different school before transferring to the U for the start of my sophomore season. During my freshman year, I was unable to play softball, which was extremely hard for me. I had never been away from the game for more than a few weeks and now I had to take a whole year off. That year taught me to appreciate the game and not take it for granted and it only provided me with more motivation to be as good of a softball player as I could be.

Once I had officially decided to transfer, I was able to spend a day on campus watching a practice and conditioning. This allowed me to get a real feel for what the life of being a Gopher softball player would be like. Later that day, I went on a tour of the campus with Coach Allister and had lunch with the coaches. Knowing that I might have the chance to play for and learn from all three of these coaches was very exciting. I instantly knew this was a perfect fit for me, and could not wait to make my transfer to The U official.

When I started school at the U, I knew I had made the best decision of my life to come here. The entire team was incredibly welcoming and they made me feel comfortable right away. Many different teammates would ask me how I was liking the school, how practice was going, or let me know that if I needed anything they would be there to help. Although they may not have known at the time, the time they took to check in on me made my transition much easier.

Also, the type of program Coach Allister and her coaching staff have created is one that is built on hard work and unwavering dedication to our sport. I had never worked as hard or been as physically and mentally challenged as I was that first year on campus. However, that was exactly what I wanted. The coaches have taught me an incredible amount about the game of softball, but they have also taught me much more. They have taught me to take full advantage of the wonderful education we are able to receive here at the U of M. They have taught me life skills that I am able to carry with me into my future career. Most importantly, they have taught the team to simply be good people, have good character, and to represent ourselves in the best way possible.

The 2014 season was something special. From winning the Big Ten Championship, to winning regionals, and competing in the programs first ever Super Regional appearance, it was a season to truly be proud of and blessed to be a part of. There is no greater feeling than when you are standing on a field celebrating a championship with a team that has put every ounce of energy they had into being the best team possible. That feeling has never left any of us; we want to experience it again.

It is truly an honor to wake up every day and represent the state of Minnesota and this university in the sport that means so much to me. It is a dream come true for me to be able to put the maroon and gold on every day. It is something that I do not and will not ever take for granted.

It is evident this season that our goals are set higher. We all come to practice every day ready to work and get better in all aspects of our game. This team is going to be a special one and we are going to make many memorable moments just like last year. I cannot wait for the 2015 season to kick off! Just 16 days away! As Coach Allister would say, "Get excited!"

Cobb Impressing At Senior Bowl

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Minnesota running back David Cobb is turning heads at the Senior Bowl this week in Alabama. Cobb started all 13 games for the Gophers rushed 314 times (single-season record) for 1,626 yards (single-season record) and 13 touchdowns (tied for third most in a season). He had seven 100-yard rushing games (tied for second most in a single season) and caught 16 passes for 162 yards. He also completed one pass for 9 yards and was named All-Big Ten Second Team by the coaches and media. Cobb received the team's Bronko Nagurski Award (team most valuable player) and Bruce Smith Award (outstanding offensive player) and was also named the Bob McNamara Offensive Back of the Year.

Here's what people are saying about Minnesota's power back.


The 2015 Minnesota Softball season is approaching. The Gophers are coming off their best season in program history, a season that included the school's first Big Ten Tournament title since 1999 and its first-ever NCAA super regional appearance. This year's team will look to build on last year's success. The 42nd Gopher softball team will feature 22 student-athletes and each one has her own story. As the team's Feb. 6 opener against Washington gets closer, each player will look back on her journey to wearing the Maroon and Gold.



Coach Allister on No. 17, Sara Groenewegen: "Sara is a dynamic athlete who has the ability to be a game changer on both sides of the ball. We are excited to see her step into a leadership role on our pitching staff and continue to produce in the middle of our lineup."
Geography is one of my strongest subjects in school, but to be honest I had never even heard of the state of Minnesota until I saw Coach Allister standing behind the backstop watching me play. I knew who the other two coaches were beside her mainly because they were coaches from well-known, prestigious programs in the West, but when I saw the maroon and gold jacket she was wearing I was confused, but also interested in finding out who she was.

Coach Allister first watched me the September of my junior year. Being a Canadian had something to do with having little to no exposure in high school, so that is why I played on a travel team based out of Seattle, Wash. for my junior year. If I had not played on a team in the U.S., the likelihood of me being at the U or any Division I program would've been slim. A lot of kids get overlooked when recruited--and I know this first hand--so I am really appreciative that the coaches saw potential in me.

A lot of people ask why I play in the U.S. instead of Canada and the answer is simple: the competition. It is an incomparable level in relation to the level of play at home.

For example, we don't even have high school softball where I am from. I am a very competitive person and I knew the NCAA was home to some of the most competitive ball around the world, which is why people from Canada, Australia and other countries come to play on American soil.

Some people are shocked that I am able to be so far away from my family, but I knew what I was getting myself into when I signed my NLI. A flight home would be expensive no matter where I went to school, so I knew I wasn't going to be seeing them much. The one thing I knew was that I would be home in December and for the summer no matter where I went to school, so distance did not really matter to me.

Minnesota wasn't the first program to contact me, but the maroon and gold was always in the back of my mind every time I was connecting with another program.

One of the main things in the recruiting process that really 'hooked' me to be a Gopher was how persistent the coaches were. This was mainly because with the other schools I was talking to, it was the other way around where the player has to be very persistent and almost annoying to be in contention of a spot on the team. Every week, I received at least one thing in the mail (I still have all of them), whether it was information about the school, the softball program, the athletic community or even a funny picture.

One thing I can remember vividly is when the coaches sent me a Christmas card (before I had committed) where all three of the coaches had something personal to say. I knew once I got that card that it would be hard for another school to win me over. It made me feel like the coaches really wanted me to play for them, and that is where my journey as a Gopher began.

The coaches really grasped my attention by saying how bright of a future there could be for the team with a couple of years under their belts. They provided an opportunity to be a part of something great: building a program.

Freshman year was beyond what I could even imagine it being. When I first got to campus I was so scared because everything was new to me; I picked up everything I knew and was ready for a fresh start.

I first had to learn my role on the team. I didn't even know the coaches wanted me to hit until I went to coach Merchant's office and she handed me a bat--I was pumped! I then had to learn the team dynamics and get to know new faces, but with our team, that took no time at all. We are a family here. When you're around the team almost every minute of the day, it makes it easy to connect and build relationships on and off the field. Everyone was so welcoming and fun to be around, which made being away from home easy.

Last year was definitely an unforgettable season, and looking back at it makes me even more excited for this upcoming season. Being a part of a team that helped flip the program was thrilling and it has started a fire inside the team and myself to continue our success.

Something I believe in, and it is written on our door in the locker room, is the saying "limits are self-imposed". It is exciting to be apart of something that realistically has no limits. Last year was our program's best season yet, but that isn't stopping us from trying to make it an even better season this year!

This year's team is ready to build off of last year. We now know what it takes to compete for a Big Ten title and a trip to go deep in the postseason. We have implemented a championship culture and mindset into our fall and winter practices trying to prepare us for the 2015 season.

As the season quickly approaches us (17 days to be exact), it only makes us more excited. We are ready to prove not only to ourselves, but to everyone else that Gopher Softball is an up-and-coming program in the NCAA, and we are ready.

Women's Hockey Visits Fan in Hospital

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As the Gopher women's hockey team was preparing for their Border Battle against Wisconsin earlier this month, the team took time out of their day to visit one special fan, who was being treated at a children's hospital in the Twin Cities area. The Gophers visited Bethany Schmidt, who is a goalie in the Windom youth hockey program.

Fourteen of the Gopher women's hockey team came to visit her and left her with an autographed stick and tickets to the upcoming series.

"The visit from the Gophers was medicine for her," Bethany's mom, Jacquie, said. "Her doctor came in the next day and couldn't believe her improvement. He'd never seen a patient start to recover as fast."

Read the full story HERE!


The 2015 Minnesota Softball season is approaching. The Gophers are coming off their best season in program history, a season that included the school's first Big Ten Tournament title since 1999 and its first-ever NCAA super regional appearance. This year's team will look to build on last year's success. The 42nd Gopher softball team will feature 22 student-athletes and each one has her own story. As the team's Feb. 6 opener against Washington gets closer, each player will look back on her journey to wearing the Maroon and Gold.



Coach Allister on No. 18, Nikki Anderson: "Nikki is a left-handed pitcher that has the ability to throw the ball hard. After her strong showing at the end of last season we are excited to see Nikki throw more innings this spring."
Since I was young, I have always had a softball in my hands and since I was young I was always wearing the maroon and gold. Growing up in a family of Gophers is quite interesting! My mom, two aunts, two uncles, grandma and grandpa all attended the University of Minnesota! My Grandpa Bob played baseball for the Gophers in 1956 as an outfielder when the Gophers won their first national championship and my Aunt Lezlie played for the Gophers from 1980-83 when they first joined the Big Ten. Now I am very fortunate to have my little sister here on campus with me too!

When you grow up in the family that I did, you had no choice but to bleed maroon and gold. My first day on campus, I remember my family telling me about their times at the U and all the places I needed to eat like Annie's, Stub and Herbs, and Vescio's.

Being from Brainerd, Minn., fastpitch softball was not as popular as it is now when I started playing it in the summer of 2007. I remember when my mom signed me up for my first fastpitch softball team. I asked her what fastpitch was because all I had ever known was slow pitch. When I saw those girls pitch at my first practice, that was all I wanted to do! But, oh boy, was I a terrible fastpitch softball pitcher and at the end of the summer I was cut from the team after they had hosted tryouts.

I got this letter in the mail saying that I did not make the team for next summer and I was heartbroken. I thought that letter meant that I could no longer play softball at all--I was 13 at the time that all of this was happening. I looked at my mom and I said, "Mom, when I am a freshman in high school, I will be the starting pitcher. I will be the best pitcher that Brainerd has ever had." So all winter long I worked my tail off and as a seventh grader and in the spring of 2008 I made the eighth grade softball team. In early June of 2008, my mom got a call from the coach of the summer team I had been cut from asking me to rejoin the team!

Well, I kept working my butt off and in eighth grade I played on the ninth grade team and then finally I was a freshman in high school. Every single day of my freshman year, I told myself that I wanted to be the starting pitcher and I worked really hard to try and achieve that goal of mine.

Finally, when high school ball came around I became the starting pitcher for the Brainerd Warriors and was the starter for all four years during my high school career! But after I had reached my goal of being the starter for the Warriors, I knew that I needed a new goal and that new goal was to play for a great Division I school.

I will never forget the day that I got my first recruiting email from Coach Ritter. That had to have been one of the best days of my life! To be recruited by my family's alma mater was a dream come true for me, so I went on an official visit in October and fell in love with the campus!

My mom and grandpa (yes, my grandpa came on my official visit) toured the campus with me and were telling me about how they had to register for classes before there were computers and how they actually had to do research by using actual books! Later that night, my mom, grandpa and I went to a Gopher men's hockey game with my team host, Coach Allister, Coach Ritter and Coach Merchant. I remember having to explain the rules of hockey to Coach Allister!

The most memorable moment of my official visit had to have been the next morning when I went to watch the team do an early morning conditioning workout. About 15 minutes into the workout, I went with Coach Merchant to get bagels for breakfast since I had never had Bruegger's Bagels before. When I got back to the indoor turf where the team was working out, all I saw were girls exhausted and sprawled out all over. All I could think was, "Oh my gosh! What happened in the 20 minutes that I was gone?" But I knew the kind of work ethic the coaches and the girls had here at the U of M and I knew that I wanted to be a part of a great team.

Signing my NLI for the University of Minnesota was the best decision that I have ever made. I am very proud to be a third-generation ball player for the Golden Gophers and I am very proud to be a part of such a wonderful team. As a team last year, we made huge strides to make 2014 so successful and winning the NCAA Regional Championship game, for me, was the highlight of our amazing season!

We have put in so much hard work in this fall and having just started up practices, I can see that we will be another great team and that every one of my teammates wants to be on the field in Oklahoma this year. It will take a lot of hard work, but I know that this team is up for the challenge!

I cannot wait to start our season in Las Vegas! The freshmen get to put on their Gopher uniform for the first time and our seniors get to step out on the field for the beginning of their final season as Golden Gophers. I believe that this team has set some high goals and that we are ready to begin on the path to the 2015 Women's College World Series!

The 2015 Minnesota Softball season is approaching. The Gophers are coming off their best season in program history, a season that included the school's first Big Ten Tournament title since 1999 and its first-ever NCAA super regional appearance. This year's team will look to build on last year's success. The 42nd Gopher softball team will feature 22 student-athletes and each one has her own story. As the team's Feb. 6 opener against Washington gets closer, each player will look back on her journey to wearing the Maroon and Gold.



Coach Allister on No. 21, Sydney Fabian: "Sydney is a left-handed hitter that can play the short game and hit for power. Syd is a strong defensive outfielder who made several game changing catches last season."
Growing up in Minnesota, it is hard to miss the unmatched pride our state has in the University of Minnesota and its athletic teams. As a young girl, I vividly remember the overwhelming excitement of getting to attend Gopher Hockey games with my dad, as well as the loud cheers for Gopher Football that filled my family's house on Saturday afternoons. As long as I can remember, I have been in love with the University of Minnesota. Now, having the opportunity to represent the Gophers, playing the game I love, is an absolute blessing.

I was a two-sport athlete in high school, playing both ice hockey and softball. My dream was to continue playing one of these sports at the next level. I was recruited by small schools for both sports, but I was not passionate about any of the universities that were contacting me. This all changed at the beginning of my junior year when Coach Merchant approached me after a fall softball game. Coach expressed interest in me as a possible recruit and invited me to attend hitting clinics put on by both Coach Merchant and Coach Allister. I immediately connected to the coaching style used at these clinics and felt that the amount I could learn from Coach Allister and Coach Merchant was exponential. This is when I knew the University of Minnesota was where I was supposed to be.

When I arrived on campus my freshman year, I realized very quickly that the adjustment from high school to college would be a challenging one. At first, I had a hard time balancing practice and schoolwork, but I soon learned the ropes thanks to my incredible teammates. I was unsure of many things my first semester of college, but one thing I have never questioned is how strong of a bond I share with every single one of my teammates. If I need help finding a class, they walk me there. If I need someone to edit a paper, they gladly volunteer. If I need anything, I can count on any or all of my teammates to be there. Friends like these are hard to come by and that is why I know that our softball team is special. We care about each other, we challenge each other, and we make each other better every day--that is why we are successful.

Becoming a member of the University of Minnesota Softball team hasn't come without obstacles. From the moment I started at the University, it became clear to me how demanding collegiate sport can be. Successes are earned through hard work, and long hours on the softball field, and in the classroom. There is, however, no greater reward than being challenged, and succeeding alongside your teammates and coaches.

Never before in my life have I played or worked with people with as much drive and passion as the 21 other girls that put on that University of Minnesota softball jersey. Coach Allister's program is built on hard work and will to compete and win. Our goal is to outwork every other team in the nation in order to continue to grow, win, and build our program. Getting to wear the Minnesota "M" on my chest is an absolute privilege and each day, that "M" reminds me of all the hard work we have put it and the amazing things our team has already accomplished.

The feeling of winning a Big Ten Championship alongside my best friends was the most amazing experience in my career thus far. Sprinting onto the field and hugging my teammates in celebration validated all the hours of work we have put in and our team's incredible drive to always be better than we already are.

Our work continued to be validated as we went on to host and win a regional in the 2014 season, as well as attend the University of Minnesota's first every super regional. 2014 was an incredible season; it was a blessing to have had the opportunity to be a part of this memorable team.

The University of Minnesota grants me every day an opportunity to compete, to be my personal best, and because of that I am truly grateful. I have learned many things in my short two and a half years at the university. I have learned how to respond to challenges, how to fight back against adversity, and how to get better every day. Most importantly though, I've learned in its truest sense what it means to be a teammate.

I am so excited to continue to learn and grow with my team in this 2015 season. Make sure you all #StayTuned!

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