Behind Groenewegen, Gophers sweep Big Ten foe

Catcher Taylor LeMay runs the bases on April 15 at Jane Sage Cowles Stadium.

Daily File Photo, Alex Tuthill-Preus

Catcher Taylor LeMay runs the bases on April 15 at Jane Sage Cowles Stadium.

Matt Greenstein

With one out in the seventh inning of the Gophers’ victory over Michigan State on Sunday, sophomore pitcher Sara Groenewegen launched a triple into right field.
 
While Groenewegen isn’t known for her abilities on the base paths, her presence on all sides of the field helped Minnesota go undefeated on the weekend, sweeping the Spartans 8-4, 7-1 and 9-4. 
 
With players in scoring position, Minnesota capitalized all weekend.
 
“I think we played well collectively as a team, whether it was pitching, hitting or defense,” Groenewegen said.
 
Groenewegen’s success in the batter’s box was part of a larger trend for the team. Minnesota had 33 hits in the series, with five coming from Groenewegen. 
 
“The message is always the same — we want them to swing on a good pitch,” head coach Jessica Allister said.
 
Minnesota’s aggressiveness on the base paths led to six stolen bases throughout the weekend.
 
“We’re going to take advantage of anything the opposition gives to us. We’re aggressive on the bases, but we also don’t want to run ourselves into outs. If they give us 60 feet, we’re going to take it,” Allister said.
 
Junior catcher Taylor LeMay was one of six players to steal a base in the three-game series. But LeMay’s impact stretched much farther than on the base path, as she finished the weekend 4-for-9.
 
“She did great. She’s been working hard in practice and has been waiting for an opportunity to get back in the box. And she certainly took advantage of it,” Allister said.
 
Whenever LeMay left the batter’s box, chances were she was heading for first base.
 
In addition to four hits, LeMay drew three walks during the weekend.
 
“I think this weekend I really let the ball come out and made sure that I was seeing the ball right out of the pitcher’s hand,” LeMay said.
 
Throughout the Gophers’ season, LeMay has been one of Minnesota’s main catchers. 
 
Most of the time, she is behind the plate for Groenewegen and the chemistry between the two was very evident in the weekend’s series. 
 
Groenewegen pitched in two of the three games over the weekend and excelled in both outings.
 
She finished the weekend with 23 strikeouts in just over 11 innings pitched, including 15 strikeouts Sunday.
 
“I had no idea that I had the 15 strikeouts. I was just rolling with the punches — just going into the game and being competitive is all that it takes,” she said.