May 1, 2014
|| No. 12/14 Minnesota at Purdue
||Friday, May 2 • 3:00 p.m. CT
Saturday, May 3 • 12:00 p.m. CT
Sunday, May 4 • 11:00 a.m. CT
||Boilermaker Softball Complex • West Lafayette, Ind.
||Purdue 12, Minnesota 2 in five innings (May 6, 2012)
||Minnesota | Purdue
|Gopher Softball Live
||Game 1 | Game 2 | Game 3
The No. 12/14 Minnesota softball team will wrap up its 2014 regular season this weekend when it heads to Purdue for a three-game series. The teams will play Friday at 3 p.m. CT, Saturday at noon CT, and Sunday at 11 a.m. CT.
Off to its best start in school history with an .818 win percentage at 36-8, the Gophers enter the final weekend of the regular season sitting in third place in the Big Ten with a 14-5 conference record. The Gophers are coming off a weekend sweep of Penn State in which they outscored the Nittany Lions 26-2.
The Gophers have outscored their opponents 256-93 on a season, averaging 5.82 runs for and 2.11 runs against per game. The team has secured its fourth 30-win season in as many years with Jessica Allister as the head coach.
Purdue comes into its final weekend of the regular season with a 25-25-1 record on the year with a 12-8 mark in conference action after losing its last four games. The Boilermakers are 2-7-1 against ranked opponents this season.
USA Softball National Player of the Year Top-50 Watch list outfielder Andie Varsho leads the Boilermaker bats with a .438 average, 41 runs, 14 doubles and 25 stolen bases. Four other starters are batting higher than .300: designated player Katy McJunkin (.373), inﬁelder Tori Chiodo (.344), catcher Danielle Fletcher (.340), ﬁrst baseman Ashley Burkhardt (.335).
In the pitching circle, Lilly Fecho has pitched about 60 percent of PU’s innings this season, going 19-13 with a 2.55 ERA and 178 strikeouts.
Against the Boilermakers
Minnesota leads the all-time series against Purdue, 21-20. The teams split the teams split the first 38 games of the series that dates back to 1995 before the Gophers took two of three games against the Boilermakers when the teams last met in Minneapolis in 2012.
Senior pitcher Sara Moulton was drafted fifth overall in the National Pro Fastpitch (NPF) College Draft by the Chicago Bandits March 30. Should she pitch in the league, she will be the sixth former Gopher to play professionally.
Against Ranked Opponents
The Gophers are 7-5 against top-25 ranked opponents on the season, including a 5-3 mark on the road. Tyler Walker leads the team in those games with a .459 average and an .865 slugging percentage.
In the Polls
This week, the Gophers are ranked No. 12 in the USA Today/NFCA Coaches Poll and No. 14 in the ESPN.com/USA Softball Top 25 Poll. They sit at No. 18 in the RPI rankings. The No. 12 spot in the USA Today/NFCA Poll, which has held for three weeks, is the highest the program has been since the week of March 26, 1997 when it was No. 11.
Nation’s Top Performers
Kaitlyn Richardson is ranked fifth in the nation in on-base percentage at .567 while Sara Moulton’s 11 shutouts rank her third. Sara Groenewegen’s clip of 11.2 strikeouts per inning ranks her fifth.
Coming off a season in which in won a program record 17 road games in 2013, Minnesota has gone 10-4 on the road this season. In those 14 games, Kaitlyn Richardson is hitting .444 with a .600 on-base percentage, while Tyler Walker is hitting .400 with an OBP of .491. Sara Moulton has gone 8-3 in 11 starts with a 1.29 ERA, striking out 67.
Hitting for Power
The Gophers have been hitting for power more so than they have in program history this season. Their 53 team home runs tie 2012 for the most the team has ever hit and their .498 slugging percentage is the highest their highest ever and ranks them second in the Big Ten.
Taylor LeMay leads the team with 10 home runs, while Kaitlyn Richardson, Tyler Walker, and Sara Groenewegen have eight apiece. Richardson, who has a team-best .771 slugging percentage, has the fourth-most doubles in school history with 16 this season.
In the Circle
Minnesota has had one of its best pitching seasons in school history this year, helping lead to what currently is tied the eighth-highest win total in school history. The Gophers’ rate of 9.49 strikeouts per game is the team’s best ever. Minnesota’s opponents have a .188 batting average against--another program-best mark.
Following this weekend’s series, the Gophers will head to Evanston, Ill. for the Big Ten Tournament May 8-11. Last year, Minnesota reached the conference championship game. Should the Gophers qualify for an NCAA Regional (May 15-18), it would mark their ninth tournament appearance.