Gophers look to Anderson, Stober to fill pitching void

Gophers look to Anderson, Stober to fill pitching void

Matt Greenstein

Head coach Jessica Allister wants to get her pitching staff back to the dominant force it was last season.

Led by Sara Moulton and now-sophomore Sara Groenewegen, the consistent one-two punch was among the conference’s best.

When Moulton graduated, Groenewegen stepped in as the team’s ace, and the team has used freshman Kylie Stober and   Junior Nikki Anderson as its second starters.

“We’re a young pitching staff this year. Last year, we had a veteran in Sara Moulton, and Sara Groenewegen was our rookie,” pitching coach Piper Ritter said. “This year, we’re still a majority of underclassmen, so I think we’re still learning, and we’re still developing as a pitching staff.”

Stober has given the Gophers solid outings consistently throughout the season.

The Lakeville native has started six games for the Gophers, and she is second on the team with a 2.72 ERA.

“I think Kylie is still learning. Every outing for her, she gains more confidence and more command of her pitches. Each outing is better and better for her. The more she’s in the game, the better,” Ritter said.

Stober’s strong outings in the circle have helped her become one of the two Minnesota pitchers to help fill the void.

Anderson owns the same 5-1 record as Stober and is third on the team with a 4.57 ERA.

Stober and Anderson play an important role on the Gophers’ pitching staff, so their consistency is key each time they step foot in the circle.

“Obviously, any time they go out, they need to be able to pitch well, but I think since it’s the beginning of the Big Ten [season], it’s a good opportunity for them to get comfortable,” Groenewegen said.

As a freshman, Groenewegen was able to learn from Moulton. Now, she leads the rotation.

Groenewegen’s ability to stay calm in the circle, even in an unfavorable situation, has been instrumental in her success.

“[Stober and Anderson] can see her when we have runners on first and third with nobody out, that she comes out and strikes a girl out, throws a groundball and hits a pop up — and the inning is over, and it didn’t faze her,” junior catcher Taylor LeMay said. “When they can see Sara being so composed and relaxed on the mound, I think those are the things she [will] teach.”

And as they’re placed into new roles, that demeanor is something Anderson and Stober will try to absorb.

“I think the biggest thing that I’ve been able to teach them is how to be mentally tough,” Groenewegen said. “I believe that the mental game is 90 percent of pitching because all the focus is on you, and you control every pitch of the game.”