Gopher softball 2021

Hrothgar

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So I have been scanning other top softball programs’ roster-sizes which has usually been between 22 and 25 and it got me to thinking again about Megan Dray’s transfer to the Gophers. I have posted before that I thought this was a signal to us that the Athletic Department is going big on their support of softball. To take on another roster spot when they did, when they are cutting other sports programs, I think is telling.

But what I am really interested in is the position we can expect she will start the year at... presumably in the starting lineup for why else would they accept this transfer with 23 women already on the roster? Will it be at Catcher or at First Base? My best guess is... catcher?
Pardon my lack of info. I've been out of the loop for a while. Could you refresh my memory on who Megan Dray is? Is she a special talent?
 

ClassOf98Gopher

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The very short and most accurate answer I personally can give is “I don’t know.” However, she was the 4-batter for a pretty darn good University of North Carolina team... so, as a Junior, I expect her and the coaches assumed when they did the transfer that she will get a lot of playing time - probably as a starter.

Plugging in Dray as a started would either push Hansen out of her starting spot or take an opening from one of our potentially big swinging Freshmen in Kinch or Evans.
 

ClassOf98Gopher

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D1Softball has the Golden Gophers as their favorite to win the B1G in their Big Ten preview article. Interestingly, they have Northwestern 2nd, Michigan 3rd, Wisconsin 6th and Ohio State 8th. I would assume Wisconsin and Ohio State would finished higher.
 

Hrothgar

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Today (2/1) I read online that Co-vid's uncertain nature leaves the Gophers 2021 SB schedule incomplete. Also today came an online notice that Southern Illinois Univ. (I'm an alum) has scheduled around 56 games in 2021. The SIU coach said as soon as the 2020 season was cancelled in March, they began working on a 2021 schedule of games. Their aim was not to worry about RPI competition in their area but to find good opponents close enough to drive to easily (no flying). By searching early, they completed a schedule & now will start playing in February. Even those spare details make a person think. 1) Is the danger from Co-vid considered less an issue in some athletic depts or conferences than others? 2) What a huge role geography can play in DI spring sports. SIU in Carbondale, IL, is 700 miles south of Mpls. and within easy driving distance of numerous universities in the South & South Midlands. By contrast, how many worthy opponents within easy driving distance would the Gophers find in the Upper Midwest? Given the realities, Gophers SB has had amazing results in recent years. IMHO.
 

MRJ

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The very short and most accurate answer I personally can give is “I don’t know.” However, she was the 4-batter for a pretty darn good University of North Carolina team... so, as a Junior, I expect her and the coaches assumed when they did the transfer that she will get a lot of playing time - probably as a starter.

Plugging in Dray as a started would either push Hansen out of her starting spot or take an opening from one of our potentially big swinging Freshmen in Kinch or Evans.
If I had to venture a totally uneducated guess (which is all it is), I would guess Dray starts at 1B and that Kinch starts at catcher.
 

rowdaboat

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SEC/B12 starting their invitationals next week already, shame that the Big 10 isn't sending teams
 

ClassOf98Gopher

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SEC/B12 starting their invitationals next week already, shame that the Big 10 isn't sending teams
Well, all the Big Ten teams better be playing each other... in Florida or Louisiana or traveling to someplace where softball is possible right now.
 

AZGopher8

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It is ridiculous that we are less than a week away from the start of the season and the Big Ten hasn't even published a schedule. If I were a coach from another conference, I would use that in recruiting battles over the next few seasons. C'mon, get your act together as a conference.
 

ClassOf98Gopher

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It took me until the last 24 hours to now assume they are not playing next weekend.

I understood that they were playing a season with fewer scheduled regular season games than in the past or that some other conferences are playing (44 games versus 56 scheduled games) . However, I still thought next weekend would be the start of the season. I previously assumed the reduced games would come out of mid-week (non-Friday/Saturday/Sunday) games being eliminated. However, now I assume they won’t start the season when, for instance the SEC will start, but rather come into the softball season at least a week or two later than usual. That must be right, right?

Who knows?... but someone should tell the public.
 

AZGopher8

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It took me until the last 24 hours to now assume they are not playing next weekend.

I understood that they were playing a season with fewer scheduled regular season games than in the past or that some other conferences are playing (44 games versus 56 scheduled games) . However, I still thought next weekend would be the start of the season. I previously assumed the reduced games would come out of mid-week (non-Friday/Saturday/Sunday) games being eliminated. However, now I assume they won’t start the season when, for instance the SEC will start, but rather come into the softball season at least a week or two later than usual. That must be right, right?

Who knows?... but someone should tell the public.
I guess I didn't expect them to necessarily start at the same time as everyone else barring news that they had secured some Southern venue where teams would meet and play all weekend (which would have been awesome!). But to seemingly still be putting things together, when almost the entire rest of the country has posted schedules and is ready to start makes softball (and baseball) appear to be unimportant and disorganized in the Big Ten.

I expect a P5 conference to be run with more leadership. As a player, do I want to play where they will shut me down and act as though my sport doesn't matter? This just as Minnesota, Michigan, and Northwestern are continuing to push B1G softball forward nationally. This is the stuff that derails momentum building programs.

I feel for the fine young players in the B1G. Tbey deserve better and so do their fans.
 

MRJ

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I guess I didn't expect them to necessarily start at the same time as everyone else barring news that they had secured some Southern venue where teams would meet and play all weekend (which would have been awesome!). But to seemingly still be putting things together, when almost the entire rest of the country has posted schedules and is ready to start makes softball (and baseball) appear to be unimportant and disorganized in the Big Ten.

I expect a P5 conference to be run with more leadership. As a player, do I want to play where they will shut me down and act as though my sport doesn't matter? This just as Minnesota, Michigan, and Northwestern are continuing to push B1G softball forward nationally. This is the stuff that derails momentum building programs.

I feel for the fine young players in the B1G. Tbey deserve better and so do their fans.
Agreed.

I don't doubt that the coaches and players are getting anxious. The national preseason polls are out and the southern teams/conferences already have a working plan moving forward. Yet in the Big 10, nothing appears to be happening whatsoever.

With that said, I'm sure someone is working behind the scenes to try and get the players on the field as quickly as possible. But the longer this draws out, the more anxious everyone will get.
 

ClassOf98Gopher

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...arring news that they had secured some Southern venue where teams would meet and play all weekend (which would have been awesome!).


It would have been so awesome! I think those multi-field mega facilities exist. Big Ten Baseball and softball member universities should have went in together and just leased one of those out for a month or two along with all the hotel rooms in the area - economies of scale suggests to me that they could have received good rates. It would have been an outdoor Big Ten baseball/softball extravaganza during winter-time.

It would have displayed that they were trying to make the best of a rough COVID-caused situation for the players and fans.
 

rowdaboat

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44 games with Friday doubleheaders. Pitching depth going to be essential
 

MRJ

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44 games with Friday doubleheaders. Pitching depth going to be essential
Not worried.

Fiser and Pease are both high quality plus Brandt, Jones, Dueck and Hollifield. Situations like this also make me all the happier that we have Piper Ritter as head coach.

Have full confidence in her ability to figure it out in the circle.
 

rowdaboat

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Would be great if they can get a few exhibition games at Irish dome vs the local D2 schools between Florida weeks
 

MRJ

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Would be great if they can get a few exhibition games at Irish dome vs the local D2 schools between Florida weeks
Agreed, although I think they'll have their own protocols to follow depending upon what the NSIC ultimately decides to do with its schedule. They might limit everything to in-conference (including potential exhibitions). With that said, it would certainly be beneficial to have some more live competition in between Florida weeks and before the on-campus portion of the schedule starts.
 

Ski U Mah Gopher

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Since there are 4-game series, are the home games going to be true home games (batting in the bottom of the inning) or are they going to split them?
 

ClassOf98Gopher

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We have a schedule!!!

I am so relieved they are playing in February And I love the idea of using Florida for the first few weeks.

I don’t know exactly how many games this schedule gets to (I hope close to the mid 40s). Maybe the series are 4 game series?

Anyway, hopefully they get a lot of opportunities to “play ball!”
 

Ski U Mah Gopher

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I am so relieved they are playing in February And I love the idea of using Florida for the first few weeks.

I don’t know exactly how many games this schedule gets to (I hope close to the mid 40s). Maybe the series are 4 game series?

Anyway, hopefully they get a lot of opportunities to “play ball!”
Once they get to campus sites, they are 4-game series. DH on Friday, and single games Saturday & Sunday.
 

ClassOf98Gopher

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Once they get to campus sites, they are 4-game series. DH on Friday, and single games Saturday & Sunday.
The schedule makes sense and looks good. I am quite confident in the ability of this 2021 team to have a lot of wins over these 44 conference games. I am so confident that I wouldn’t have minded four games against Ohio State and two against, say, Michigan State but I really can’t complain. Those will be big four game series against Michigan and Northwestern.

Finally, I have to give praise to the Big Ten for taking the risk to travel to Florida for conference games - in a pandemic. It shows that they are committed to making softball a big deal in the Big Ten and take a risk to do so. Kudos to them.
 

fanfromthevalley

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I don't think anyone else has noted this, but current plan is no ticket sales. Some family allowed and the ever popular fan cutouts can be ordered
 

FormerFatOL

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I like that the schedule is a full round robin. Every BG10 plays each other. This gives MN and NW an even playing field with MI compared to the past few years.
 

MRJ

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I like that the schedule is a full round robin. Every BG10 plays each other. This gives MN and NW an even playing field with MI compared to the past few years.
Have to admit that the Big 10's softball scheduling philosophy prior to COVID didn't really make much sense to me. The Gophers haven't played Michigan in the regular season since 2015. They were scheduled to face the Wolverines in Ann Arbor in 2020, so that would have ended the streak. But to have arguably the conference's two top programs not face each other in the regular season for more than four years is very strange imo.

Anyway, glad to see the Gophers and Wolverines renew what has become a nice little rivalry (mostly stemming from the Big 10 Tournament).
 

GringaGopher

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I don't think anyone else has noted this, but current plan is no ticket sales. Some family allowed and the ever popular fan cutouts can be ordered
I did not notice this and was planning on going to see them while we are in FLA. Bummer......
 

dlw4gophers

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Any chance btn+ will be picking up any of these games in Florida
 

MRJ

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BTN+ added this weekends games to the schedule :D

FYI- btn+ has the first game vs Maryland on the schedule for 3:30 and the Gopher schedule has it at 6:15 o_O
Well, that's a bit confusing....
 

Ignatius L Hoops

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After 13 seasons as an assistant coach and a three-week delay to the start of the 2021 season, Piper Ritter will begin her first season as the Gophers softball coach on Friday.

One thing has eased the adjustment for Ritter — the presence of "super" seniors Carlie Brandt, Amber Fiser, Katelyn Kemmetmueller and MaKenna Partain.

"I think it's phenomenal," said Ritter. "As I've transitioned to head coach, I can really count on them to make sure that what needs to be done, is done, and that expectations are met. They have been helping their younger teammates. It is also a comfort to have them on the field."

The quartet is back for a fifth season after the Gophers' 2020 season ended prematurely after 25 games and the NCAA offered another season of eligibility.
 

ClassOf98Gopher

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My guess is that in a few hours we will see a starting lineup cars that looks very similar to the below:

Partain - 2b
Jensen -CF
DenHartog - LF
Dray - C
Hansen - 1b
Strelow - DH
Kemmetmueller - 3b
Jones - RF
Brandt - SS

That being said, I am beyond interested in seeing what capabilities the Freshmen and the Sophomores Peterson and Cox (who had limited ABs last year) can add to add to the potency of our lineup. I am expecting and hoping that the answer is quite a lot.

Lastly, I really hope the Gophers try to add more of an aggressive speed game on the base paths into their gameplan. They can win a lot of Big Ten games without taking the risks, but gaining that reputation as base-stealers now may help them in post-season.
 
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