Macken leads off new lineup to strong start

The junior totaled eight hits in 17 at-bats last weekend to start the season.

Sam Macken prepares to bat at the Jane Sage Cowles Stadium on April, 26., 2015.

Alex Tuthill-Preus, Daily File Photo

Sam Macken prepares to bat at the Jane Sage Cowles Stadium on April, 26., 2015.

Emily Polglaze

Junior Sam Macken has already asserted her place at the top of the Gophers lineup.
 
 
She had eight hits in 17 at-bats in her first five games this season in the leadoff spot, including three doubles and a home run. 
 
 
“She’s doing a tremendous job,” head coach Jessica Allister said. “She came through in some big situations as a freshman, which showed she had the mental makeup to be a successful hitter at this level. She had a great season last year, and she came out this season ready to go.”
 
 
Macken played in 43 of the Gophers 57 games her freshman year and had a batting average of .258.
 
 
She was ninth on the team in runs batted in and had a walk-off single against Michigan on May 10, 2014, that clinched the Gophers first Big Ten tournament title in 15 years.
 
 
The Rochester, Minn., native started all 60 games at third base her sophomore year and improved her batting average to .363. She hit first or second in the lineup every game and scored 57 runs, which tied a school record for second most in a season.
 
 
She improved her numbers in the postseason, batting .444 and slugging a team-high .667 at the NCAA Regional in Tuscon, Ariz.
 
 
When Macken gets on base, she’s shown a knack for getting in scoring position. She’s a perfect 22-for-22 in stolen base attempts in her career. 
 
 
“I’ve definitely gotten better at stealing here. The coaches are phenomenal at teaching us the tricks that you need that make you faster,” Macken said. “I’m looking forward to getting on more and stealing more, so hopefully that can be a big part of my game.”
 
 
Macken drove in five runs last weekend at the Sportco Kickoff Classic in Las Vegas despite hitting leadoff.
 
 
Sophomore Danielle Parlich, who batted second behind Macken in all five games, said the third baseman sets the tone for the top of the order.
 
 
“She’s also a leftie, so it’s really nice to see what pitches she’s going to get and what type of mentality to go into the box with,” Parlich said. “She’s a great leadoff hitter, and she gets a great energy going to start us off.”
 
 
With Macken batting leadoff the Gophers scored 21 runs and went 3-2 during their opening weekend. She said all her time at the plate in her first two seasons made her confident stepping to the plate first each game.
 
 
“I’ve always been a pretty aggressive hitter, so now that I’m comfortable in the box and can swing at my pitches, it’s really helped me succeed,” Macken said.