Senior Skrove returns to softball team

Dannie Skrove is in the process of returning from a hand injury.

Gophers senior Dannie Skrove practices with her team Tuesday afternoon at Jane Sage Cowles Stadium. Skrove is recovering from a broken hand she suffered during practice in January.

Satchell Mische-Richter

Gophers senior Dannie Skrove practices with her team Tuesday afternoon at Jane Sage Cowles Stadium. Skrove is recovering from a broken hand she suffered during practice in January.

Betsy Helfand

 

Dannie Skrove’s name was not on the starting lineup card the first game of her freshman year.

That, however, is an anomaly in her career with the Gophers’ softball team.

Skrove started every game after that her freshman year.

And every game her sophomore year.

And her junior year, too.

As a senior, she injured her hand during a January practice, which halted her games-played streak. She got hurt just before the team hit the road in February to begin tournament games, many of which Skrove couldn’t play in.

“I love to compete, and I love playing, so it was definitely really tough to watch, but I tried to keep a positive head on my shoulders and help any way I could,” Skrove said.

One of those ways, she said, was helping the underclassmen and giving them tips about playing the outfield.

“Even though she couldn’t play, she was always out there telling us, ‘Take a deeper angle. Do this, do that,’” freshman right fielder Hannah Granger said.

Skrove is one of two players that have played on the team for the past four years and is described as a positive, vocal leader by her teammates.

“She never got down [about the injury],” freshman left fielder Erica Meyer said. “She never let it show that she was upset, and she stayed right in it the whole time. She was always cheering and being supportive.”

Meyer added that since she wasn’t originally an outfielder, having Skrove there to help show her the ropes was helpful.

Head coach Jessica Allister said that despite her injury, Skrove was present at practice and a noticeable presence on the team.

The Zimmerman, Minn., native has played in just five of the team’s 25 games this season, mostly filling in as a defensive replacement or as a pinch runner.

Her first — and only — at-bat of the season to this point came during the team’s 10-2 thumping of Idaho State. She hit a single.

“It was awesome. [There was] a lot of adrenaline. … I had the biggest smile on my face when I got to first base,” Skrove said.

Meyer credited this to her work ethic.

“She [came] back and [got] a hit in her first at-bat back; that shows how hard she works. Even when she was hurt, she was always at practice swinging with her good arm and working in the outfield with her brace on,” Meyer said.

She hit .248 last year, which was third best on the team.

Although she is now back and feeling “awesome,” she has still had to go through a readjustment process.

Her focus was originally on strengthening her hand before getting back into daily softball activities and then slowly coming back into throwing and hitting.

She said she worked on timing with her lower body even though she couldn’t swing a bat while she was injured.

Now she’s still working on strength while also focusing on getting her swing back and “getting back into the groove,” she said.

“It’s like riding a bike; you have to get back on,” Skrove said. “I feel like once I have this week at practice, I’ll be ready to go.”

The team has used Granger, Meyer and Bree Blanchette in the outfield this season. Allister said Skrove would need to fight for a position once she’s back to full health.

Allister said she anticipates her playing both center and left field when she’s back.

Skrove filled in at second base last year and said she would play anywhere but prefers the outfield.

Wherever she plays, she will be welcomed back.

“I think this team really enjoys playing with each other and competing with each other, and I think Dannie’s the epitome of that. I think [her teammates] just want to get her back on the field to compete with her,” Allister said.

Skrove and the Gophers will head to Champaign, Ill., this weekend to take on the Illini in a three-game series to open conference play.