Weaker competition awaits Gophers in Florida tournament

All six of Minnesota’s losses this season have come to teams that were in the NCAA tournament last year.

Drew Claussen

The Gophers went 3-6 against stiff competition to open the season. Now the focus shifts to beating teams they’re supposed to beat.

After two weekends of competition against teams ranked in the top 25 and teams from last year’s NCAA tournament, the Gophers enter this weekend favored in most of their games.

Minnesota will compete against Albany, Florida Gulf Coast, Villanova and St. Bonaventure at the FGCU/LaQuinta Spring Break Invitational.

Villanova and Albany have not yet competed this season. Florida Gulf Coast has a 4-3 record, and St. Bonaventure is 1-7. Florida Gulf Coast, which made the NCAA tournament last season, should be the Gophers’ toughest opponent this weekend.

Head coach Jessica Allister said she’s happy with how her team has competed so far this season. She said she’d like to see the team limit its mistakes, play more solid on defense and strike out less.

All six of Minnesota’s losses this season have come to teams that were in last year’s NCAA tournament.

Sophomore infielder Kaitlyn Richardson said after a fast start, the Gophers cooled off last year when they failed to beat teams they should have beaten.

Richardson said she felt Minnesota should’ve won series against Penn State, Wisconsin and Illinois during Big Ten play.

“Every game matters, and I think that it was a learning experience,” Richardson said.

Though Minnesota is favored on paper, Allister said she doesn’t expect to go to Florida and clean house.

“College softball is becoming so much more competitive across the board,” Allister said. “At any point in time, no matter where you’re at … if you don’t have your ‘A’ game, you’re not going to win.”