Feb. 20, 2014
|| (20/21) Minnesota at the UNCG Spartan Classic
||Friday, Feb. 21-Sunday, Feb. 23
||UNCG Softball Stadium (Greensboro, N.C.)
||George Washington: First meeting
UNC-Greensboro: Won 8-6 (Feb. 26, 2011)
Army: First meeting
Hampton: First meeting
||George Washington | UNC-Greensboro | Army | Hampton
The Minnesota softball team, off to an 8-1 start, will head to Greensboro, N.C. this weekend for five games at North Carolina-Greensboro’s Spartan Classic. The Gophers will start off play on the East Coast Friday with an 8:30 a.m. (CT) game against George Washington. At 1:30 p.m. (CT), they will play host UNCG for the first of two times. Saturday, Minnesota will face 2013 NCAA Tournament teams Army and Hampton at 8:30 a.m. and 11 a.m. (CT), respectively. Competition wraps up Sunday with a 10:30 a.m. (CT) rematch against the Spartans.
The Gophers are coming off a 5-0 trip to LSU’s Tiger Classic and a 3-1 finish at UNLV’s Easton Desert Classic. Minnesota got off to its third-ever 8-0 start, tying a program record and recorded five consecutive shutout wins for the fourth time ever before falling to No. 1/2 Florida last Sunday. The Maroon and Gold is ranked 20th in the ESPN.com/USA Softball Poll and 21st in the USA Today/NFCA Coaches’ Poll.
About George Washington
George Washington comes into the Spartan Classic in search of its first win of the season. The Colonials went 0-5 on trips to California and Louisiana. Included it GWU’s 0-10 record are losses to Big Ten opponents Northwestern (twice) and Penn State and a pair of losses against its lone common opponent with Minnesota, LSU. Jillian Galich has led her team with a .391 average and six RBI.
About UNC Greensboro
Tournament host UNCG is 2-5 on the season after suffering back-to-back loss to Virginia Tech a week ago. The Spartans have posted wins over Presbyterian and Norfolk State and opened their season with a 5-0 defeat at the hands of Big Ten foe Iowa. UNC-Greensboro is led by Katelyn Bedwell at the plate. The senior catcher, who went to the same Elgin Park Secondary School in Surrey, British Columbia that produced Minnesota freshman Sara Groenewegen, is hitting .500 with eight RBI, a pair of doubles, and a home run.
After winning the Patriot League title to advance to its first NCAA Tournament since 2002, Army is off to an 0-5 start after a beginning its season with a trip to Houston last week. Among the Black Knights’ opponents was Nebraska of the Big Ten. The Cornhuskers defeated Army 7-0. The Black Knights are paced by sophomore Kasey McCravey’s .563 batting average.
Hampton began its season with a 1-4 run in Hawaii, splitting two contests with Delaware, suffering a pair of losses to the host Rainbow Wahine, as well as one defeat to UCLA. The Pirates are coming off a Mid-Eastern Athletic Conference championship, their first since 1996. Second-year player Diamond Ponds owns the top batting average on the team at .400. Jailynn Jackson has been the team’s top pitcher, going 1-2 with a 2.80 ERA and 13 strikeouts.
Against the Field
Minnesota will be playing its first-ever games against George Washington, Army, and Hampton this weekend. After the tournament is over, the Gophers will have faced eight teams for the first time ever in 2014. The Maroon and Gold is 10-1 against UNC-Greensboro, sweeping a doubleheader Feb. 26, 2011 by scores of 1-0 and 8-6 in the team’s last meeting.
Hot Start in the Circle
Adding to a solid 3-0 start to the year for freshman Sara Groenewegen, Sara Moulton has been one of the top pitchers in the nation thus far in 2014. Moulton, 5-1, has 48 strikeouts in five starts and has yielded just one extra-base hit in 36.1 innings of work. Her four complete-game shutouts have helped her maintain a 1.73 ERA.
Resetting the Records
Sara Moulton’s hot start has her moving up in the school’s record books. Her five wins gave given her 90 for her career, moving her past pitching coach Piper Ritter for the most all-time (Ritter had 88). She also leads Gopher softball with 39 shutouts and 95 complete games. Her 988 career strikeouts are second-most all-time behind Ritter’s 1,122.
100 for Allister
Minnesota head coach Jessica Allister surpassed 100 wins two weeks ago in Baton Rouge with the team’s 1-0 win over the host Tigers. Her ledger as the team’s head coach now stands at 106-66. She is in her fourth season.
Walker Richardson Dangerous at the Plate
First Team All-Big Ten junior infielders Kaitlyn Richardson and Tyler Walker have stormed out of the gate in 2014. Richardson is hitting .462 with a .588 on-base percentage and 10 RBI through nine games. Walker, hitting .429, has upped her career run total to 110 with a team-best 11 on the young season and has three triples. Both players have 21 career home runs, tied for fourth in program history.
On the Docket
After wrapping up play in North Carolina, the Gophers will compete in the Louisville Slugger Classic in Tempe, Ariz. Feb. 28-March 2. On that trip, Minnesota will open play Friday with games versus Detroit and South Carolina before playing Ball State and Florida International Saturday. The weekend will conclude with a showdown against No. 4-ranked host Arizona State.