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Gophers open up Big Ten slate with sweep

The team improved to 27-4 this season with this weekend’s victories at Illinois.

With a sweep of Illinois over the weekend, Minnesota set a program record for most consecutive wins.

Stretching back to the beginning of March, the Gophers have won their last 13 games.

Much of their success has been due to the offensive outburst provided throughout the lineup. Two of the Gophers’ three victories against Illinois ended early due to Minnesota reaching the run rule.

“You can’t count on scoring eight runs every game. We’re getting a lot of runs up and down the lineup right now,” head coach Jessica Allister said.

Minnesota scored 28 total runs in the three-game series, including a 14-2 victory Friday.

Senior Tyler Walker was one of a few hitters who led the offensive barrage.

She ended the weekend 5-for-11 and helped give the Gophers pitchers added offensive support with six runs batted in.

“We like to say we manufacture our runs. If somebody gets on with a walk or a hit, we want to be able to move them around and bring them in,” Walker said.

Sophomore pitcher Sara Groenewegen started all three games, earning the victory in two.

She also gave herself run support throughout the series, driving in six runs on five hits.

Minnesota’s offense took pressure off its pitching.

The Gophers pitchers gave up five runs during the weekend on just 13 hits.

“[Run support] allows me to free things up. It’s always nice having that cushion. You’re able to throw the pitches you need to work on. It’s definitely a good thing,” Groenewegen said.

Minnesota’s offensive dominance was present in its first two games, but it lacked the big bats in its third game.

The Gophers ended with three hits in the 3-2 victory, and all of their runs came from the three errors Illinois committed.

Minnesota has had troubles stranding runners this season.

Despite prolific offense outburst, the Gophers left 18 runners on base throughout the weekend.

“We did well with the long ball this week,” Walker said. “It’s honestly just hitting ground balls and being able to run and score from first.”

During the winning streak, Minnesota’s offense has been rolling.

In nine of their 13 victories during the span, the Gophers have tallied more than eight runs.

“We talk about in games just slamming the door. By that, we mean as long as there’s an out left for the other team, that gives them hope to come back. We want to continue to slam the door on defense and keep putting runs up offensively,” Walker said.

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