Jan. 15, 2014
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MINNEAPOLIS - Coming off its best season in a decade, the University of Minnesota softball team got back to work Wednesday with its first practice of 2014. The Gophers, who posted their third 30-plus-win in as many seasons under head coach Jessica Allister, were ranked 25th in the nation in the College Sports Madness' Top 44 College Softball preview for the upcoming season.
For some members of the team, the day began as early as 7 a.m. with running tests and shuttle tests at Ridder Arena with strength and conditioning coach Sara Wiley. The day continued with a pair of hitting groups and a pair of groups of pitchers participating in bullpen groups.
The day culminated with the team's first official practice from 2 p.m. to 4 p.m. at the Gibson-Nagurski Complex.
Two of the 14 returning members of the team, Kaitlyn Richardson and Erica Meyer, were absent from practice as they are attending a study-abroad program in Costa Rica for the Carlson School of Management.
Richardson was a Third-Team All-American in 2013 and was a First-Team All-Big Ten selection along with teammates Sara Moulton and Tyler Walker. Last season was the first in which as many as three Gophers were named First Team All-Big Ten since 1988.
Minnesota also welcomes five more members to the team in freshmen Sam Macken, Sara Groenewegen, and Hannah Evavold, as well as transfers Taylor LeMay and Hannah Melick. LeMay, a sophomore, joins the squad after spending a year at Concordia, St. Paul, and Melick comes to the Gophers as a junior after playing at Oregon.
The team begins its season Feb. 7 at the Tiger Classic in Baton Rouge, La. with a pair of games. Minnesota will open with Murray State before taking on host LSU, which went 42-16 last season.
The Gophers have a 56-game regular-season schedule and are slated to first play at home March 28 against Illinois.
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