|MINNESOTA (30-20, 9-12 B1G) vs. IOWA (25-25, 14-7 B1G)|
|Date|| Friday, May 11
Saturday, May 12 (DH)
Friday: 7 p.m. (Big Ten Network)
|Location||Jane Sage Cowles Stadium (1,000)|
|Game Day Central|
|Season Statistics||Minnesota | Iowa|
|Social Media||Facebook | @GopherSoftball|
Last Series: Purdue
Despite playing around numerous thunderstorms, the Golden Gophers and Purdue were able to get all three games in last weekend as the Maroon and Gold claimed 2-of-3 from the Boilermakers. Sara Moulton guided the Gophers to a pair of Saturday wins as she held the top offense in the Big Ten Conference to only three combined runs. Minnesota took the first game, which began at noon, 5-3 and the second, which was delayed until 6 p.m. due to rain, 5-2. Purdue avoided the sweep on Sunday as they defeated the Gophers 12-2 in five innings.
The Hawkeyes come to Minneapolis sitting at .500 on the season (25-25), but the bordering rivals have flourished in Big Ten play with posting a 14-7 record and sitting second in the league behind Michigan. Iowa has gone 7-3 in their last 10 games, and they have held their opponents under one run in eight of those games.
Offensively, the Black and Gold sit in the middle of the conference but have had enough offensive productivity to hoist their league record towards the top of the standings. Megan Blank, who is a freshman infielder, is much to thank as she is hitting .397, which ranks third in the conference, and has five triples. Senior Katie Keim compliments Blank with the second-best batting average on the team at .325 and leads the Hawks with eight home runs.
Iowa has a twofold pitching staff in Kayla Massey and Chelsea Lyon. The two have very similar numbers on the season with both ERA's sitting just over 2.00 and each garnering 110 strikeouts on the season. Massey and Lyon, who have two of the top seven ERA's in the conference, combine to post a 2.29 ERA, which is second in the Big Ten. Lyon is the only pitcher on staff to throw against the Gophers, and the junior tossed a one-hitter last season to defeat Minnesota.
Minnesota enters the weekend hoping to turn the tables in the all-time series as they trail Iowa 37-54. In the last 10 years, the Golden Gophers have a combined record of 3-15 against the Black and Gold. Last season, the two split in a pair of low scoring contests with Minnesota taking the first game 4-2 and then Iowa claiming Game Two, 2-1, in Lyon's one-hitter. Following this weekend's three-game series, it will make it seven-straight Iowa-Minnesota match ups at JSC Stadium.
Reaching the 30 Milestone
The Maroon and Gold have reached the 30-win mark for the second straight season, which has happened since the 2003 and 2004 seasons. Both have come under head coach Jessica Allister's tutelage, who is only in her second season.
The Golden Gophers have belted 52 home runs on the season, which not only leads the Big Ten, but also breaks Minnesota's single season record. The home run hitting ability is well dispersed around the team as every player that has seen considerable playing time, has tallied a home run. Kaitlyn Richardson and Kari Dorle head up the powerful offense with each recording a team-high 10 homers while Tyler Walker follows with nine on the year.
Walking in Minneapolis
The Golden Gophers have a feared offense in the conference as they lead the league in walks with 204. Dorle and Richardson lead the team in walks with 35 and 31. Dorle is currently third all-time in walks for a season while Richardson is tied for fifth.
Minnesota is one of the top defensive teams in the Big Ten as they have the fewest errors in the league (39) and have the highest fielding percentage (.972).
Dorle Throws Down the Law
Junior catcher Kari Dorle has thrown out a total of 14 base runners who have attempted to steal a base, which leads the Big Ten Conference. She has allowed 27 stolen bases on 41 attempts.
Magic Number: 3
Minnesota has posted a record of 25-6 this season when they hold their opponents under three runs. When Iowa is held to three or fewer runs, they are 4-20 this year.
Gophers Have Mercy
The Gophers' 10-2 eight-run mercy rule victory over Northwestern on April 14 was the team's ninth this season, which is second only to the 10 accrued in 1999.
Queen of the Circle
Moulton has proven to be one of the top pitchers in the country with hoisting an ERA of 1.59, which ranks 39th in the nation and second in the Big Ten. She also sits 9th in the country with 290 strikeouts. So far this season, she has thrown two no-hitters and reached double-digit strikeouts 13 times.
Trading Boots for Spikes
The Gophers have added two unique players to the roster this season in seniors Alex Pafko and Josie Solie, who both were on the Golden Gopher soccer team this past fall. Pafko transferred to Minnesota from St. Cloud State this past summer while Solie has been a standout on the pitch the past four seasons and was named a second team All-Big Ten defender. This softball season, Solie has stolen five bases and scored 12 times while Pafko has two stolen base and scored six times.
For the first time since 1994, the Gophers opened the season with six freshmen in the starting lineup. Minnesota is one of four teams in the nation to start at least six freshmen this season. The other schools are IUPU-Indianapolis, IP-Fort Wayne, USC Upstate and Florida.
Gophers Taking Big Ten Accolades
Minnesota has garnered seven Big Ten accolades this season. Moulton has snagged three Pitcher of the Week honors while Richardson has matched her with being named Freshman of the Week the same number of times. Madie Eckstrom rounds out the crew with taking one Freshman of the Week honor.
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