Roberts’ versatility an asset to Minnesota softball

Sam Campanaro

Her nickname is “V.” Usually the letter stands for victory, which is something Veronica Roberts has helped Minnesota’s softball program strive for during her four-year tenure.

When talking about Roberts, “V” could also stand for much more. The nickname takes on a multitude of meanings for the all-around athlete.

Vivacious, vigorous, variable and virtuous are all strong descriptions of the senior outfielder.

“Even my parents call me ‘V,’ ” Roberts said. “Coach (Lisa) B(ernstein) tries to claim that she started it but my parents really started it.”

The Gophers have relied on Roberts’ strengths as an athlete – both mentally and physically – to produce results in the outfield, at the plate and while running the bases.

“She’s an outstanding athlete, she’s strong, she’s fast, she can drop a drag on you,” co-head coach Julie Standering said. “She’s the complete package.”

Vivacious

One of the definitions in the Webster’s New World Dictionary for the word veronica is “speedwell.” This is fitting, for one claim to Roberts’ success is speed.

When she rounds the bases, Roberts is lively and almost unstoppable. The two combined would explain her team-high nine stolen bases this season.

Vigorous

Roberts is a vital strength at the plate. A natural slap hitter, she has hit seven doubles and two triples this season.

From the second spot in the lineup, Roberts might be called upon to bunt if leadoff Jordanne Nygren is on base. Her speed also comes into play in these situations because she has the ability to beat out the play at first.

“I think her mentality is, ‘If I went 2-for-2 I want to go 3-for-3,’ ” Standering said.

Variable

When she’s in the outfield, Roberts has the ability to play any one of the three positions.

“She has a strong arm and she’s at the top of her game,” Standering said.

With 41 put-outs from the outfield this season, Roberts has the third-highest fielding percentage on the team.

Virtuous

“Veronica’s a perfectionist,” Standering said. “She’s a total team player. She would never do anything to disappoint this team or this program. She has a big heart for the game.”

Her dedication to Minnesota softball was initiated from the very beginning. She liked what she saw in the coaching staff and her future teammates when she was recruited to Minnesota before graduating from Mt. Carmel High School in San Diego.

Through her four years of Division I softball, Roberts has experienced her ups and downs. Along with leading the team in steals, she endured some lulls this season when the mental part of her game wasn’t all there.

“I just didn’t feel like my game was on,” Roberts said. “I think success comes with having fun. One of my teammates told me a little bit ago, ‘You know, Veronica, you’re not having fun.’ When you have fun you do well. When you’re positive, positive things happen.”

When Roberts has fun and stays upbeat, her game statistics are clear indicators of that feeling. Her at-bats produce hits, hits fall in her glove in the outfield and she rounds the bases to score runs.

Roberts can be a strong motivator for her teammates as well. The accomplishments she has experienced and her hard work are examples for the rest of the team.

Even when she is having a tough day, Roberts will stick to it for her team. She feels that her individual achievement is secondary to the Gophers’ success.

“I’m not really intense, but I want to do well every time,” Roberts said. “I’m not hard on myself, but I just want us to do well. I guess I’m a passionate player.”

All parts of Roberts’ game have made her into an ideal Minnesota softball player.

“V” is the perfect description when Roberts is being discussed, especially since it has the potential to carry so many meanings, and because Roberts plays many different roles as a member of the softball team.

Sam Campanaro covers softball and welcomes comments at [email protected]