Gophers seniors unfazed

Mark Heller

Gophers women’s softball seniors Steph Midthun and Shannon Beeler both reached career milestones against Minnesota State-Mankato on Wednesday.
But they had no idea what they had accomplished until it was announced over the loudspeaker at the Rice Street/Arlington Dome in St. Paul.
Midthun’s first-inning single was the 200th hit of her collegiate career, good enough for seventh place on the Minnesota all-time hit list.
“It’s exciting and a great honor,” she said.
Midthun is Minnesota’s center fielder, and her slap-hitting swing makes her an ideal lead-off hitter.
“I’ve been a slap hitter for seven years,” Midthun said. “I’m left-handed with speed, so I have so many options at the plate. Teams don’t know what I’m going to do, and being left-handed increases my chance of getting on base.”
And getting on base is what she does best. Against Mankato, Midthun went 3-8, stealing three bases and scoring three times.
She was aided by the turf inside the dome, where balls skip through the infield faster and speedy players can fly across the harder surface.
But Midthun gets her hits on any field.
“I don’t change my style no matter where I’m playing,” Midthun said. “I just go up there and attack.”
Beeler, on the other hand, is the exact opposite. Her fortÇ is driving in Midthun and any other Gophers on base.
She did just that in the first inning of the second game, knocking in Midthun on an RBI single.
That RBI was the 214th of her career, moving her into ninth place on the NCAA all-time list.
She also remains tied for the most career homeruns by a Big Ten player with 38.
“I had no idea,” Beeler said, referring to both her RBI and potential homerun milestones. “I guess not knowing helps me keep pressure off myself, but it is exciting.”
It’s hard to tell by looking at Beeler that she hits homeruns and drives in runs. She doesn’t have the physical presence that’s usually associated with a power hitter.
But she’s done just fine with what she has.
“I just go up there and swing hard,” Beeler said. “Everything else just happens. I’m not a big person, and I’ve never hit homeruns before college. Maybe people are just underestimating me.”