|No. 14/16 Minnesota in the Minneapolis NCAA Regional|
|Dates/Times||Friday, May 16
4:00 p.m. - Auburn vs. North Dakota State
6:30 p.m. - Minnesota vs. Green Bay
Saturday, May 17
1:30 p.m. - Winner's Bracket
4:00 p.m. - Consolation Bracket
6:30 p.m. - Elimination Bracket
Sunday, May 18
|Location||Jane Sage Cowles Stadium • Minneapolis, Minn.|
|Live Stats||Tournament Central|
|Notes/Previews||Minnesota | Green Bay | Auburn | North Dakota State|
Friday: Free Video
|Gopher Softball Live||Friday | Saturday | Sunday|
May 15, 2014
Minnesota is coming off its first Big Ten Tournament championship win since 1999 and enters NCAA Tournament play with its best winning percentage in school history at .820, standing at 41-9. The Gophers have outscored their opponents 290-104. They hit the 40-win plateau for the first time since 1999 and eclipsed 30 wins for the fourth time in as many seasons under head coach Jessica Allister.
About Green Bay
The Gophers' first-round opponent, Green Bay, reached the tournament via winning the Horizon League Tournament. The Phoenix has a 27-12 record and an 0-3 mark against Big Ten schools.
Shannon Butts leads the squad with a .412 average, while Marissa Michalkiewicz has a Green Bay-best 37 RBI. Ashely Nannemann has pitched more innings than anyone else on the team, going 11-7 with a 1.94 ERA.
Auburn enters the weekend as the region's second-highest rated team in the RPI at No. 17, one spot behind the Gophers. The No. 21/22 Tigers come into the weekend with a 39-17-1 record. Nine of their 17 losses came in a 10-game stretch in late March/early April in which they played a foursome of highly-ranked SEC teams.
Auburn boasts three hitters with batting averages of over .400 in Branndi Melero (.411), Kasey Cooper (.410), and Emily Carosone (.408). Cooper has 15 home runs and a team-best 76 RBI. In the circle, Lexi Davis paced Auburn with a 2.78 ERA, leading her to a 20-10 record.
About North Dakota State
NDSU comes in to the weekend with a 35-16 record after winning its last five games to capture the Summit League title.
Alex Sobrero leads the Bison with a .394 average, while .336 hitter Amanda Grable has a team-best nine home runs and 45 RBI. Krista Menke has done the bulk of the pitching, tossing 229.1 innings for a 20-7 record and a 2.04 ERA.
Watch the Games
All the Friday and Saturday games at the Minneapolis Regional will be shown for free on gophersports.com. If the Minnesota reaches the championship, both of Sunday's potential games would be televised on the Big Ten Network.
Gophers in the NCAA Tournament
The Gophers, 7-12 all-time in NCAA Tournament games, last hosted national tournament competition in 2002. That year, Minnesota defeated Princeton before suffering two-straight two-run losses to DePaul. Minnesota qualified for a regional last season for the first time since 2003 when it was selected to play in Seattle. There, the Gophers sandwiched a 5-0 win over Portland State between two 3-0 losses to Hawaii.
Against the Field
The last time the Gophers played Green Bay, the teams split a doubleheader April 11, 2012, moving Minnesota's all-time record against the Phoenix to 33-3. The last time the Maroon and Gold played the Bison was a week later. The Gophers improved to 19-1 against NDSU with a doubleheader sweep. The two teams had a doubleheader rained out this season on April 30. Minnesota is 2-1 all-time against Auburn. The Gophers last played the Tigers in the War Eagle Classic March 2, 2013, winning 4-3.
In the Polls
This week, the Gophers are ranked No. 14 in the USA Today/NFCA Coaches Poll and 16th in the the ESPN.com/USA Softball Top 25 Poll. They sit at No. 16 in the RPI rankings. Their No. 12 spot in the USA Today/NFCA Poll two weeks ago was the highest the program had been since the week of March 26, 1997.
Nation's Top Performers
Kaitlyn Richardson is ranked sixth in the nation in on-base percentage at .559 while Sara Moulton's 12 shutouts rank her fifth. Sara Groenewegen's clip of 11.4 strikeouts per inning ranks her fourth.
Hitting for Power
The Gophers have been hitting for power more so than they have in program history this season. Their 63 home runs are the most the team has ever hit and their .508 slugging percentage is their highest ever and ranks them second in the Big Ten.
Taylor LeMay leads the team with 11 home runs, while Sara Groenewegen, Kaitlyn Richardson, and Tyler Walker have are also in double digits with 10 apiece. Richardson is tied for the the third-most doubles in school history with 18 this season and has the program's best-ever slugging percentage at .791. Walker has the Gophers' second-best slugging percentage of all-time at .747.
Should the Gophers advance out of the Minneapolis Regional, they would take on the Eugene Regional in a Super Regional from May 21-24. Minnesota would travel to Euguene if host Oregon wins this weekend's regional or would host either Wisconsin, Albany, or Utah Valley should one of those team advance.
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