Women’s softball team sweeps doubleheader in North Carolina

Michael Dougherty

The Gophers women’s softball team improved to 5-3 on the season by sweeping a doubleheader at North Carolina on Thursday by scores of 15-3 and 9-0.
Shortstop Shannon Beeler led the way for Minnesota in game one, belting a grand slam to cap a seven-run second inning.
The Gophers’ hot hitting continued into game two as they pounded out 15 hits to back Steph Klaviter’s one-hit pitching over seven innings.
Laura Peters went 3-for-4 in both games for the Gophers, and Beeler added a three-run triple in game two.
Minnesota plays today in the Triangle Classic against North Carolina-Greensboro and Temple.
Men’s track and field
While no coach likes to be accused of looking past an opponent, Gophers men’s track and field Phil Lundin can’t help but sneak a peek beyond this weekend’s Snowshoe Open to check out the Big Ten Championships on Feb. 28-March 1.
No. 11 Minnesota plays host to the Snowshoe Open tonight at the Field House. The event will feature numerous Division III schools, including St. Cloud State and Minnesota-Duluth.
While those schools offer some adequate competition for the Gophers, Lundin called Friday night’s meet a tune-up.
“It wouldn’t matter even if we had the Little Sisters of the Poor to go against,” Lundin said. “The idea is to run a distance that is under or above what you’ve normally been doing.”
Although the meet represents a chance for more athletes to qualify individually for the NCAA Championships, it is easy to see how Lundin can view the Big Ten as the ultimate team goal.
“The success of the program is judged by our finish in the Big Ten meet,” said Lundin.
And to succeed at that meet, which will be held in West Lafayette, Ind., Lundin’s squad needs to stay injury-free.
“Hopefully everybody will be healthy for the big one,” Lundin said.
Women’s track and field
Unlike Lundin, women’s track and field coach Gary Wilson has lost all hope for a healthy squad. The Gophers host the Maroon and Gold Open at the Field House on Saturday afternoon.
“We’re really, really, really thin right now,” Wilson said. “We’ve got to have 14 athletes at (Big Tens) to count, and we’re taking 14.”
Wilson likens his injury situation to that of other more notable coaches and teams that are struggling this year because of lack of health.
“I feel like Doug Woog, Clem Haskins and the men’s Olympic hockey team all rolled into one,” Wilson said. “Its just one of those years where you’ve just got to lick your wounds.”
Like the Snowshoe Open, the Maroon and Gold Open will consist of numerous Division III schools — and that annoys Wilson, who calls the meet “The World of Division III.”
“Oh my aching back,” he continued, “we will have like 60 people running in the 200 meters.”
Despite both the disparity in the competition this weekend and the injuries, Wilson still has a couple of athletes who could achieve individual success — Daphne Panhuysen and Aubrey Schmitt.
While Panhuysen has yet to provisionally qualify for NCAAs, Wilson says she has a chance to in the 3,000-meter and 5,000-meter races this weekend.
Meanwhile, Schmitt has provisionally qualified for the shot put five times this season and once in the 20-pound weight throw.
Wilson considers Schmitt to have the best chance of anyone on his squad to make it to the NCAA Championships.
The Gopher Kids Club is sponsoring a Run With the Gophers event before Saturday’s meet. Kids will be included in the team cheer with the Gophers and run in their own race.
All kids are welcome to participate and should meet at 10:30 a.m. in the lobby of the Field House. For more information, call Amanda Mather at 624-1655.
Women’s gymnastics
The Gophers women’s gymnastics team hosts the fifth annual Best of Minnesota Meet which features Hamline University, Gustavus Adolphus and Winona State University. These four teams constitute the only NCAA women’s teams in the state.
While Minnesota clearly fields a superior team, co-head coach Jim Stephenson expects a great contest between those three schools.
Stephenson’s squad fell to 14th in the rankings after last weekend’s loss to Utah, and he hopes that his team can regroup and improve its national ranking.
“We had a great week of practice and the girls are pretty hungry right now,” he said.
With teams that consist of numerous Minnesotans, this event began as a way to showcase those gymnasts at the collegiate level. Stephenson expects a big crowd because of the local connection.
Men’s gymnastics
Despite losses last weekend to Michigan and Michigan State, coach Fred Roethlisberger’s squad jumped five places in the rankings to No. 12.
The rankings are based on the average score of the team, and with a season high team score against Michigan, the Gophers made their move.
The team takes this weekend off and returns to action against Nebraska on Feb. 27.