Final home game gives seniors reason to reminisce

Mark Heller

Sunday’s Gophers softball game against Ohio State was a game that wouldn’t end.
But when it finally did — after 12 innings and 321 pitches — it was more than just a game that ended.
Minnesota’s 2-1 win will be its last at Bierman Softball Stadium, as a new softball complex will open next season.
As for this season, the game was the last home game for seniors Erin Brophy, Lara Severson, Steph Midthun, Shannon Beeler and Steph Klaviter.
A small ceremony was held in honor of the five seniors prior to Sunday’s game.
“One of the best graduating classes ever,” Gophers co-coach Julie Standering said of the outgoing players. “Whether it’s emotional, physical or leadership, they set the tempo. They’re great role models and mentors to the underclassmen of the team. They’re the ‘oomph.'”
The latter three of the five constitute the core of the team up the middle of the field: Klaviter on the mound, Beeler at shortstop and Midthun in center field.
It will be difficult for the Gophers to replace those three All-Americans at the plate or in the field, but it will be impossible for the five players to replace their experiences the past four years.
“Probably the one thing that sticks out to me is seeing (Michelle) Bennett’s dad videotaping every single game,” Brophy said. “Or looking at my dad, who sat up in the exact same spot in the corner (bleachers on the third-base side) every single game.
“It’s going to be different.”
There wasn’t one particular moment in her career that stood out for Brophy, but she’ll remember Sunday’s marathon game the most.
“This will be the one game that sticks out,” she said. “It was our senior day, 12 innings, a tight ballgame and it came down to the end of our at-bat.”
Freshman left fielder Tammi Hays has looked to Midthun for guidance this season, and it’s paid off.
“Steph has been my role model this year and the person I look to on and off the field,” Hays said. “And what better person to look to than the All-American? She’s done it all, and she started in my shoes (left field).”
After throwing her 12-inning, two-hit gem on Sunday, Klaviter preferred to look at the big picture rather than the last game in assessing her collegiate career with the other four seniors.
“All five of us came out here every day for four years and played our hearts out,” Klaviter said. “The last game was just as memorable as all the other ones.”