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Gopher softball to make outdoor home debut

The schedule for Minnesota’s softball team indicates that the Gophers are playing at Michigan State (19-13, 1-3 Big Ten) on April 9 and 10 before heading to Evanston, Ill., to play a doubleheader on April 11 against Northwestern (16-11, 1-3).

But for all the Gophers care, as long as they show up to the stadium on time, it doesn’t matter who they play.

“In our approach this year it’s not about playing the name on the front of the jersey,” coach Julie Standering said. “We’re not worried about our opponents; we’re worried about our own game.”

Minnesota (22-11, 3-1) has not had many worries in recent weeks. The Gophers said they are feeling a surge of confidence having won 11 of their last 12 games.

While pitching has been solid for Minnesota, run production has been the difference between winning and losing.

The Gophers are averaging 4.6 runs per game in their 22 victories, but only 1.1 runs in 11 losses. The team is hitting .270, but that number sinks to .184 in losses.

Junior Rachel Keeney said the Gophers hope to keep their strikeout number low this weekend by only swinging at hitter’s pitches.

“The coaches have really been working with us on pitch selection,” she said. “That will be one of our main focuses offensively.”

In Minnesota’s last 11 wins the Gophers have scored 69 runs, an average of 5.75 per game.

“We’ve been doing a good job,” senior Hailee Nanchy said. “Our fast girls are getting on and our big girls are hitting them in. We’re creating and manufacturing runs throughout the game.”

Nanchy also mentioned that Minnesota is focusing on scoring early in the game. In their last five games the Gophers have not scored a run in the first two innings.

Standering said her team will be working to stay with the script her squad knows best.

“We’re going to be sticking to our game plan,” she said. “Worrying about what we’re doing and concentrating and putting all our focus and attention on executing our game.”

For Minnesota that means good pitching and playing solid defense. Offensively, the Gophers want to get runners aboard and be aggressive on the base paths while hoping for some timely hitting.

“We will put the pressure on Michigan State and Northwestern,” Standering said. “We’re going to put the pressure on them to make mistakes, and we’re going to take care of our business.”

This weekend concludes a string of 22-straight away games for Minnesota. The Gophers make their outdoor home debut at Jane Sage Cowles Stadium on April 14 against Concordia-St. Paul.

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