#12 Minnesota Softball 2015 Preview

Minnesota Golden Gophers

Overall Rank: #12
Conference Rank: #2 Big Ten
#12 Minnesota Softball 2015 Preview
Minnesota Team Page


The Gophers are coming off of their best season in program history, a season that included the school's first Big Ten Tournament title since 1999 and its first-ever NCAA super regional appearance. Minnesota brings back 16 players from last year's team, so experience and hunger for a better finish to last season will be there.

2014: 44-12, 16-6
2014 Postseason: NCAA
Coach: Jessica Allister

Field Players:
Minnesota welcomes back its top five hitters, including two-time All-American Kaitlyn Richardson. Last season the senior led the team in average (.418), doubles (21), RBI (51), walks (40) and had a team-low 11 strikeouts amongst the regulars. Tyler Walker had quite the impressive year as well, hitting .382, knocking around 13 doubles and eight triples, as well as knocking 12 balls out of the yard and driving in 50. Sara Groenewegen had quite the collegiate debut, hitting .299 with 11 home runs and 11 doubles and 42 RBI en route to winning Big Ten Freshman of the Year. Taylor LeMay also had 11 home runs.

Not only did Groenewegen win Freshman of the Year last season, she also won Big Ten Pitcher of the Year after going 14-3 with a 2.23 ERA (28 appearances and 17 starts and racking up 192 strikeouts, while holding opponents to a .170 batting average). Unfortunately her partner in the circle, Sara Moulton, is playing for the Chicago Bandits in the NPF. Three other pitchers are on the roster, but other than Nikki Anderson, who has pitched sparingly over her first two years, nobody has any collegiate experience.

Who to Watch:
Groenewegen. She had an impressive freshman campaign, but will she be able to keep it up as the staff ace, as well as continue her hitting? Or will the dual action be too much to handle? Time will tell.

Final Projection:
The Gophers will have a potent offensive attack again this year, led by the All-American Richardson. Her stats have been eerily identical her entire career, so it's a safe bet that Minnesota knows what it will be getting from its super star. Groenewegen is a star in the making, if she isn't one already. Working with Mouton last year helped her transition into the college game and ease into being an ace. They'll be tested right away, as they face Washington in the Gophers' first game of the year. They also face ASU, James Madison, Missouri and Fordham in the non-conference portion of the schedule. A key stretch from March 27-April 12 will go a long way in determining the Big Ten as Minnesota travels to Nebraska and then hosts Michigan and Northwestern in back-to-back-to-back weekends.  

Projected Postseason: NCAA Softball Tournament

Returning Leaders:
At Bats: Tyler Walker, IF, 178
Hits: Tyler Walker, IF, 68
Home Runs: Tyler Walker, IF, 12
RBIs: Kaitlyn Richardson, UTL, 51
Runs: Tyler Walker, IF, 55
Stolen Bases: Tyler Walker, P, 14

Wins: Sara Groenewegen, P, 14
Innings Pitched: Sara Groenewegen, P, 116.1
Strikeouts: Sara Groenewegen, P, 192
Complete Games: Sara Groenewegen, P, 9

Madness 2015 NPF Draft Rankings:
#8 Kaitlyn Richardson


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