Tough series in the rearview, it’s back to nonconference

Series against Iowa State and South Dakota are Minnesota’s last scheduled nonconference games.

The Gophers are going to get some time to think about their 1-3 performance in the Big Ten thus far with a weekend of nonconference play against Iowa State and South Dakota.

After dropping their second and third games in a row in a double-header against Ohio State last Saturday, Minnesota sits second from the bottom in the Big Ten standings, despite an overall 19-16 record.

âÄúIt was a tough weekend for us,âÄù freshman pitcher Sara Moulton said. âÄúWe just have to bounce back and come together as a team.âÄù

The Gophers have held leads in two of the games during their losing streak. One of them was a four-run advantage in a disappointing loss against Ohio State on Saturday, in which the Buckeyes scored six runs in the top of the seventh and ended up winning the game 7-5.

The first step to finding the win column again for Minnesota will come today with a pair of games at Iowa State. The Cyclones are actually in a similar position in their conference compared to the Gophers. Despite a 17-13 overall record, they are second to last in the Big 12 with a 1-3 conference record. In their defense, the Big 12 has been one of the best conferences in the country this year. Currently, every team but Iowa State has an overall record at least 17 games over .500, and eight of them are ranked in the USA Today/NFCA top 25.

Although Iowa State is hitting .299 as a team, it doesnâÄôt feature a single player in the top five of any major offensive statistical category in the Big 12.

Though they may be struggling in their conference, the Gophers should be ready for the Cyclones, who are averaging more than five and a half runs a game so far this year.

The Gophers will have another double-header on Saturday at home against South Dakota. The CoyotesâÄô pitching has yet to find a consistent leader this season. Four members of their staff have already compiled at least six decisions, with three of them evenly splitting the teamâÄôs 12 wins. The teamâÄôs combined ERA stands at an ugly 4.88, and it has allowed opponents to hit .293 on the year.

On offense, South Dakota is led by senior outfielder/pitcher Mel Johnson, who leads the team in batting average, home runs and RBIs from the plate, as well as strikeouts from the mound.

This will be MinnesotaâÄôs last chance to prepare for its Big Ten opponents, as the remainder of its schedule is conference matchups after this weekend. The Gophers start a six-game homestand against South Dakota on Saturday, staying home to face Iowa twice on Wednesday and third-place Penn State on Saturday and Sunday next weekend.