Minnesota pushes past South Dakota

Matt Greenstein

Before Wednesday’s 8-2 victory against South Dakota, Minnesota played a dozen consecutive games against Big Ten opponents.
 
And though the latest matchup was a nonconference game, the Gophers played with as much intensity as their home opener against top-10 ranked Michigan.
 
Since the season’s beginning, head coach Jessica Allister has preached the importance of competing at all times.
 
“[Competing is] all you can ever do. [You have to] get out there, compete like crazy and try to win. When you try to make things perfect, you get caught up,” Allister said in February.
 
Allister’s team brought her words to life Wednesday.
 
The Gophers fell behind early Wednesday after freshman pitcher Kylie Stober gave up two solo home runs.
 
But in the bottom of the third inning, the Gophers turned up the heat, scoring three runs. 
 
“Hitting is contagious. Attitudes are contagious. Our energy is contagious,” senior infielder Kaitlyn Richardson said. “With our team, once our momentum starts, we just keep rolling. We never feel too down. Once we get that first hit, we start rolling.”
 
Sophomore infielder Sam Macken started Minnesota off with a single into right field, which Richardson followed with a double. 
 
Sophomore pitcher Sara Groenewegen was next to bat and smashed the ball deep over the center field wall, driving in the three runs.
 
“I didn’t even know where it went. I was just worried about touching first base,” Groenewegen said. “My game plan was to get a strike and hit it, and I did.”
Minnesota controlled the game from there.
 
Junior catcher Taylor LeMay affirmed the Gophers’ dominance with a home run in the bottom of the fourth inning, which her successors followed with two more runs.
 
The run support gave Minnesota’s pitchers the opportunity to relax while in the circle.
 
After junior pitcher Nikki Anderson relieved Stober, Groenewegen closed out the night. 
 
Groenewegen threw a no-hitter in her last appearance and kept the momentum rolling Wednesday, closing out the contest with three strikeouts in two innings of relief.
 
“I just go in, throw strikes, and good things happen,” Groenewegen said.