Nonconference games serve as a break for Minnesota

The Gophers will take on the University of Wisconsin–Green Bay on Wednesday.

Betsy Helfand

 

After leading by eight runs, the Gophers softball team allowed the Badgers to score nine unanswered runs on Saturday and beat Minnesota on a walk-off hit.

The comeback was the largest in University of Wisconsin school history and capped a sweep for the Badgers.

Effects from Saturday’s second loss lingered into the team’s practice Tuesday.

“It’s one of those losses that hurts a lot more,” said first baseman Alex Davis.

“It’s Wisconsin, and they’re our biggest rival in the Big Ten. And it makes you sick to your stomach almost just because you want to win and you want to beat them so bad,” she said Tuesday.

The team has to be wary of letting it sink in too much, though, as head coach Jessica Allister warned her players to “stay away from extreme highs and extreme lows,” in a long season.

“You have to have a short memory in this game because you have to be able to move off of failure,” Allister said. “But your memory can’t be too short because you want a little bit of that fire.”

With a memory of the weekend in their heads, the team will look to bounce back Wednesday with a doubleheader against University of Wisconsin–Green Bay.

The doubleheader will give the team a short break from both Big Ten play and the slew of road games, two areas in which the team has struggled so far this season.

After an 18-7 nonconference record in tournament play, the team has gone 3-6 in the Big Ten and has dropped two of its three conference series, both of which came on the road.

The Gophers have played 34 games this season, but Wednesday’s doubleheader will be just their fourth and fifth home games of the season.

Minnesota is 2-9 on the road and, despite a small sample size, has seen more success at home, with a 2-1 record.

The Phoenix play in the Horizon League and are 12-13 on the season.

Minnesota had good pitching in its first two games against Wisconsin and good hitting in the third but was unable to find both in the same game.

“We’ve struggled to put together whole games recently,” Allister said. “So the goal now is to try to put all three things together.”

This week’s doubleheader will be the first of two nonconference midweek matchups for the Gophers. The games are scheduled to begin at 2 p.m. and 4 p.m. at Jane Sage Cowles Stadium.