Minn. heads to Madison for a Border Battle matchup

The teams split a two-game matchup last season.

Betsy Helfand

 

Minnesota will head to Madison, Wis. this weekend to take on the Badgers in one of the last Border Battle matchups remaining this season.

The two teams split a midweek series last year in Madison.

This year, they’ll play a three-game weekend series, which begins Friday with a single game and concludes with Saturday’s doubleheader.

Minnesota (21-10, 3-3 Big Ten) is coming off a 2-1 weekend against Nebraska.

The Badgers (17-12, 3-3 Big Ten) won all three of their midweek games this week. Their most recent Big Ten games resulted in a home series loss to below-.500 Northwestern.

Freshman outfielder Maria Van Abel is top five in the Big Ten in batting average.

One of the players she trails is Gophers’ third baseman Kaitlyn Richardson.

After a weekend in which she batted 6-for-12, Richardson was named Big Ten co-Freshman of the Week. She now leads the Big Ten with a .433 batting average.

Wisconsin is second in the Big Ten with 70 stolen-base attempts. Van Abel leads the team with 10 swipes in 14 attempts.

The Gophers, by contrast, have 31 attempts.

“They’re very, very aggressive on the basepaths, so we’re talking about taking care of the ball,” head coach Jessica Allister said.

Gophers catcher Kari Dorle has thrown out eight of 24 runners that have challenged her arm this season — an improvement from last year, when she threw out 10 runners in 58 attempts.

“They’re going to try taking extra bases, so we need to make sure that we’re always going to the next play on defense,” Allister said.

The Minnesota-Wisconsin rivalry will, as always, add an extra element to the series.

“I think [the players] are into it,” Allister said about the rivalry. “Alissa Koch is from Wisconsin, so I know she loves playing them. It’s a good rivalry.”

Minnesota leads Wisconsin 345-295 in the Border Battle standings for all sports this season. Each sport earns 40 points with a win in the Minnesota-Wisconsin matchup. Postseason doesn’t count.

The Gophers have won the Border Battle for the past three years.

After this weekend’s softball series matchup ends, women’s and men’s golf, women’s and men’s track and field and rowing are the only events remaining to be calculated in the Border Battle standings.