MINNEAPOLIS, Minn. - On the heels of an 8-3 win against 10th-ranked Northwestern and an extra-innings loss to #8 Michigan last week, the University of Minnesota softball team received 15 votes in this week's USA Today/NFCA Top 25 poll. Minnesota's total places it 31st in the poll, and marks the first time this season that it's been listed among teams receiving votes.
Minnesota enters this weekend's games with Penn State at 21-24 overall and 4-6 in the Big Ten. But the Gophers' record is deceptive, as the team has played 10 games against teams ranked among this week's Top 25. The Gophers are the lone Big Ten team to have defeated 11-1 Northwestern in conference play, have lost in extra innings to both the Wolverines and #17 Louisville, and dropped a pair of 1-0 decisions versus 15th-ranked Ohio State.
In addition, the Golden Gophers have played 23 games against teams listed in this week's Top 100 RPI, going 8-15 in those games. Minnesota is 2-9 versus teams with RPIs in the Top 25, 2-2 against teams between #26-50, and 4-4 versus opponents rated between #51-100.
The Gophers have one of the top pitchers in NCAA Division I softball. Senior right-hander Briana Hassett ranks second in the nation with 336 strikeouts in 236.1 innings this season, while posting a record of 20-17 with 29 complete games and 12 shutouts.
Saturday's first pitch against Penn State is scheduled for 1:00 p.m. (CDT) at Jane Sage Cowles Stadium. The teams will then wrap up their series on Sunday, with the game set to start at 11:00 a.m.