Even in the midst of a losing streak, Minnesota’s softball team has managed to not get too down.
The Gophers (12-29, 1-15 Big Ten) have lost 17 of their past 18 games, and are three-fourths of the way through the Big Ten season with just one conference win.
Still, Minnesota co-coach Lisa Bernstein has kept her team in good spirits.
“It’s easy,” Bernstein said. “We’re working hard Ö we’re a hit away, a pitch away from having a completely different record. This season cannot be judged with wins and losses.
“We’re building this team and this program into the future and it’s all part of it.”
Senior infielder Valerie Alston said that while the Gophers have struggled they have tried to focus on moral victories.
“Each game we’re playing better and better,” Alston said. “(On Sunday) we kept Northwestern from scoring. They stranded 25 runners. That’s a pretty amazing feat for the offense that they have.
“Obviously we want to win, but when that’s not happening you try to find things within the game.”
With just three seniors on a 19-player roster, a lot of Minnesota’s struggles can be attributed to a lineup full of players learning to adjust to Big Ten play.
After the Gophers gain a year of experience, next season’s Gophers will be different, senior outfielder Stefanie Watt said.
“We’ve got a lot of youth and inexperience on our team,” Watt said. “You give them the rest of this year and next fall and next year it’s going to be a different story. It sucks kind of for us because we’re seniors Ö but you’ve just got to take that hand in hand.”
This season Minnesota is running out of time to turn things around, with just four Big Ten games remaining.
But the Gophers have an opportunity to pick up some non-conference wins today, when they face Wisconsin-Green Bay in a 4 p.m. doubleheader at Jane Sage Cowles Stadium.
“You have to play them like it is a Big Ten game,” Watt said. “You don’t want to lose to a school that’s supposedly a little lesser than you are, in a smaller division.”
The Phoenix (8-16, 5-9 Horizon League), like the Gophers, have struggled this season and sit in second-to-last place in the Horizon League.
“It’s good for us not to have to practice every day, for us to be able to get back on the field,” Bernstein said. “We’re excited about having the opportunity to play some ballgames.”