Gophers Set to Start Season Against Huskies

 Minnesota hosts Northern Illinois in Glendale, Ariz.
Date/Time  Fri.-Sun., Feb. 14-16, all at 2 p.m. CT
Friday Probable Pitchers  Alec Crawford (RHP) vs. Eli Anderson (RHP)
Saturday Probable Pitchers
 Jordan Jess (LHP) vs. Jordan Ruckman (LHP)
Sunday Probable Pitchers  Ben Meyer (RHP) vs. Alex Klonowski (RHP)
Location  Glendale, Ariz. | Camelback Ranch
Game Day Live  Game 1 | Game 2 | Game 3
Social Media  @GopherBaseball | Facebook
Game Notes  Minnesota | Northern Illinois
Media Clips Coverage from the week

Feb. 13, 2014

The Golden Gopher baseball team is set to begin its 126th season on the road. Minnesota will host Northern Illinois in a neutral site home series at Camelback Ranch in Glendale, Ariz. The Gophers are coming off of a fourth-place finish in Big Ten play last season.

REVIEWING 2013
Minnesota finished 32-22 overall and 13-8 in conference play. The Gophers finished fourth in the Big Ten standings and went 2-2 in the conference tournament at Target Field. Pitchers Tom Windle and DJ Snelten, who would be selected in the MLB Draft, earned All-Big Ten First Team honors. Catcher Kurt Schlangen was named to the second team, while outfielder Andy Henkemeyer and second baseman Connor Schaefbauer made the third team.

THE STARTING ROTATION
Alec Crawford (9), Jordan Jess (4) and Ben Meyer (8) all made multiple starts for Minnesota in 2013. Crawford has the best ERA (2.28) of any returning Gopher pitcher. Ben Meyer (5-4) has the most wins of the returners. Jess dealt with injury in 2013, but will be an important contributer as one of two left-handers on the pitching staff.

WHO'S BACK?
Regular 2013 starters who return include Matt Halloran (catcher), Dan Olinger (first base), Connor Schaefbauer (second base) and Michael Handel (shortstop). Tony Skjefte (infield), Mark Tatera (infield), Dan Motl (outfield), Bobby Juan (outfield),  Alex LaShomb (first base/DH) also started at least 10 games last year.

DEAN OF BIG TEN COACHES
John Anderson is in his 33rd year as the Golden Gopher head coach and 36th year overall at the University of Minnesota. Anderson currently holds an all-time record of 1,124-748-3 (.600 winning percentage), including a 506-298 (.629) in Big Ten play. He is the conference's all-time wins leader. Assistant head coach Rob Fornasiere (29th year) and pitching coach Todd Oakes (16th year) also return, and the Gophers added volunteer assistant coach Patrick Casey before the season.

ROAD WARRIORS
With the demolition of the Metrodome, Minnesota will not play a true home game until March 26. The Gophers will play games in six different states (Arizona, Florida, Louisiana, South Carolina, California and Illinois) before their Siebert Field home opener. They will play in all four Continental U.S. time zones in the first five weeks. Minnesota will be on the road for 10 of 14 weekends during the season. In addition to their early non-conference games, the Gophers will also travel to play Florida State in Tallahassee May 2-4.

UNDER THE LIGHTS
When the Gophers return home for their second year at Siebert Field, they will be able to play at night for the first time in the new facility. A donation from the Foundation for Minnesota Baseball allowed for the installation of lighting. The Gophers have scheduled seven home games to start at night, with the first being against Penn State on April 25 at 6:35 p.m. 

ABOUT THE HUSKIES
Ed Matheny is entering his 12th season as the Northern Illinois baseball coach. He holds a 277-335-1 record in his time with the Huskies. The Huskies went 22-34 in 2013, including a 16-11 mark in conference play to win the MAC West. They return five position starters and three starting pitchers. 2013 All-MAC selections Eli Anderson (pitcher) and Alex Klonowski (second base/pitcher) are among NIU's top returners.

ALL-TIME SERIES
Minnesota leads the all-time series 7-1. The Huskies won the last meeting in the Metrodome on March 3, 2013. In a 2-1 NIU win, Alex Klonowski pitched a two-hit complete game and scored the winning run.