Veteran pitchers lead Minnesota

Sara Groenewegen was named the Big Ten Pitcher of the Week on Monday.

Sara Groenewegen high-fives her teammates while returning to the dugout at the Jane Sage Cowles Stadium on May 5, 2015.

Liam James Doyle, Daily File Photo

Sara Groenewegen high-fives her teammates while returning to the dugout at the Jane Sage Cowles Stadium on May 5, 2015.

Emily Polglaze

The Gophers started their Big Ten schedule with a sweep of Purdue over the weekend, thanks to a strong performance inside the circle.
 
 
Minnesota’s pitchers gave up only four runs in the three-game series. Thirty-one games into the season, the team ranks third in earned run average in the Big Ten, largely thanks to veteran pitchers Nikki Anderson and Sara Groenewegen.
 
 
“We’ve been doing a good job defensively, and we’ve found different ways to win,” Groenewegen said. “We’re not relying on just one of us to get through the game, and that’s been a really big strength for us.”
 
 
Groenewegen, a junior, was named the Big Ten Pitcher of the Week and co-Player of the Week on Monday after a strong pitching performance over the weekend. In 16 innings pitched against the Boilermakers, she allowed only one unearned run and six hits while striking out 24.
 
 
The reigning Big Ten Player of the Year also earned two victories and a save in the series. She now leads the country in strikeouts with 183 in 125-and-one-third innings.
 
 
Anderson, a senior left-hander, started a career-high eight games last season and was 6-1 in the Big Ten. She led the conference in ERA in league games with a 1.31, and also allowed the third-lowest batting average in Big Ten play at .212.
 
 
Anderson has made five starts and 11 appearances so far this season as a senior and is 4-2 with a 2.90 ERA.
 
 
She started the Gophers’ last game against Purdue Sunday and allowed one earned run and two unearned runs in five innings. She also struck out four.
 
 
“Nikki Anderson’s performance was a highlight,” head coach Jessica Allister said Sunday. “It was probably her best outing of the year, and she did great in the circle today. She’s been tremendous.”
 
 
Groenewegen and Anderson have pitched 166-and-one-third innings this year, while the rest of the staff has pitched 34. Sophomore Kylie Stober has a 4.81 ERA in 32 innings pitched, while junior Hannah Evavold did not allow an earned run in her two innings pitched this year.
 
 
The Gophers’ top-two pitchers will likely work the bulk of the innings in Big Ten play as well and try to keep hitters on their toes throughout series.
 
 
“You’re going to see batters who will see you 10 times a weekend,” Groenewegen said. “So, as pitchers, we have to be prepared and find a way to get them out, whether that’s a strikeout or even jamming them. We just find different ways to deal with adjustments.”