Gopher softball 2021

ClassOf98Gopher

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And I forgot about Chloe Evans; yet another batter who very well may be able to square up against college pitching. That is a big roster, but I like our odds of putting a really good team on the field in 2021.

I am just increasingly worried about not getting a 2021 softball season in due to this Coronavirus problem we are having.
Looking at some old video from last year, Chloe Evans looks to have some serious bat-speed from the left side.

Eight new bat swingers to add to last year’s team, minus White, Krueger, and Beddow. I would expect a lineup with even more punch if only one or two of those Freshman hit the ground running in their Freshman year.
 

Jaydee

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That middle of the batting order is going to be key. As I have written before, I expect between Strelow, Costa, Ehlke, Cox, Kinch, Ceynowa, Jones and even Hollifield, someone has got to be able drive the ball to join Kemmetmueller and Hansen in the middle of the lineup (or even push those upperclassmen into the 7 or 8 spot.) That is too many people for none of them to be able to hit college pitching square up.

As to the bottom of the order, Peterson, Densen and Beckstrom likewise have to be able to push Van Der Heide, Lindbner, and Brandt. There are just too many new players that have potential. Honestly, that should be as good or better of a bottom six of the order as Northwestern, Michigan, or Wisconsin. And those teams will really struggle to keep up with our first three batters and our pitching When considered together. Given the whole team, I like our chances. Of course, maybe Corol Hutchins and other Michigan fans are saying the same thing.
Totally agree, the batting order needs a serious retooling. But I think the new coaches will have a positive effect on the hitting. These girls were recruited for a reason. They are all capable. It's the small things that will get them to have success at the plate.
Competition will also be good for the hitters. I expect the batting order to look very different next year with all so many players vying for a spot. One that you didn't mention is Dueck. She was the best hitter in the state in 2019 and played for the 14th ranked club team in the country. I believe Dueck, Costa and Sara Kinch (#1 ranked club team) are the only up and comers that have already shown that they can have success against that level of pitching. Some of the others could definitely still have success without Premier experience, Strelow is a good example, but most are not coming in as proven hitters at the top level.
 

Hrothgar

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Totally agree, the batting order needs a serious retooling. But I think the new coaches will have a positive effect on the hitting. These girls were recruited for a reason. They are all capable. It's the small things that will get them to have success at the plate.
Competition will also be good for the hitters. I expect the batting order to look very different next year with all so many players vying for a spot. One that you didn't mention is Dueck. She was the best hitter in the state in 2019 and played for the 14th ranked club team in the country. I believe Dueck, Costa and Sara Kinch (#1 ranked club team) are the only up and comers that have already shown that they can have success against that level of pitching. Some of the others could definitely still have success without Premier experience, Strelow is a good example, but most are not coming in as proven hitters at the top level.
I agree. Kemmetmueller and Hansen need to produce big results or be dropped to the bottom of the order. (Hansen isn't a natural at first base either. They need better defense at that position; she likely needs to play someplace else.) Above all else, they team desperately needs explosive big bats in the middle to drive in Jensen, Partain, & Denhartog, who are cinches to be on base often.
 

ClassOf98Gopher

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I agree. Kemmetmueller and Hansen need to produce big results or be dropped to the bottom of the order. (Hansen isn't a natural at first base either. They need better defense at that position; she likely needs to play someplace else.) Above all else, they team desperately needs explosive big bats in the middle to drive in Jensen, Partain, & Denhartog, who are cinches to be on base often.
My revised guess at what the team will look like on game one of 2021:

Partain - 2b (backed up by Strelow)
Jensen -CF
DenHartog - LF
Kinch or Evans - C (I’m being hopeful)
Hansen - 1b (Pushed by Ehlke)
Strelow - DH (Pushed by Cox/Costa)
Kemmetmueller - 3b
Jones - RF (Pushed by VanDerHeide/Denson)
Brandt - SS (Pushed by Beckstrom)

P - Fiser, Pease, Hollifield, Dueck, Jones

And all that guesswork gets thrown out the window based upon who performs in 2021 games.

Two Big questions I have:

1. Who shows the most growth/capability over the next 7 months to demand being in the regular lineup (Cox/Peterson/Dueck/Lindner / Denson/Hollifield/Ceynowa)? Meaning who demonstrates they can touch Fiser and Peace’s pitching?

2. What pitcher/hitters (Dueck/Hollifield/and maybe Jones) are identified to focus only on pitching? Maybe the one that demonstrates the nastiest “out-pitch”. Or, oppositely, the one with the least pop-in-their-bat.
 

MRJ

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My revised guess at what the team will look like on game one of 2021:

Partain - 2b (backed up by Strelow)
Jensen -CF
DenHartog - LF
Kinch or Evans - C (I’m being hopeful)
Hansen - 1b (Pushed by Ehlke)
Strelow - DH (Pushed by Cox/Costa)
Kemmetmueller - 3b
Jones - RF (Pushed by VanDerHeide/Denson)
Brandt - SS (Pushed by Beckstrom)

P - Fiser, Pease, Hollifield, Dueck, Jones

And all that guesswork gets thrown out the window based upon who performs in 2021 games.

Two Big questions I have:

1. Who shows the most growth/capability over the next 7 months to demand being in the regular lineup (Cox/Peterson/Dueck/Lindner / Denson/Hollifield/Ceynowa)? Meaning who demonstrates they can touch Fiser and Peace’s pitching?

2. What pitcher/hitters (Dueck/Hollifield/and maybe Jones) are identified to focus only on pitching? Maybe the one that demonstrates the nastiest “out-pitch”. Or, oppositely, the one with the least pop-in-their-bat.
I get the feeling that there will plenty of options to answer your questions considering how big the roster is going to be.

Right now, the only things that I would safely assume is that Fiser is starter No. 1, Pease is starter No. 2, Partain will be at 2b, Kemmetmueller will play 3rd, Brandt will play short and DenHartog will be in LF. I really like Jensen, but she's been banged up a fair amount. I also figure VanderHeide will see plenty of time in RF, at least to start the season.

Kinch is considered a very good prospect at C, so she'll get a lot of looks to start I would expect. Strelow is a future standout hitter imo, so she'll also get plenty of chances in the lineup. Whether she's in the field remains to be seen. Same with Hansen, who has shown some pop in her bat. Ehlke is a big, strong hitter, so if her power can translate to the power 5 level quickly, she'll get some time as well.

Pitching after Amber and Autumn will be very interesting to watch. Would like to think Dueck can spell them after a year of transitioning into the program. But with Hollifield, Jones and Brandt also available, we'll see.
 

ClassOf98Gopher

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I get the feeling that there will plenty of options to answer your questions considering how big the roster is going to be.

Right now, the only things that I would safely assume is that Fiser is starter No. 1, Pease is starter No. 2, Partain will be at 2b, Kemmetmueller will play 3rd, Brandt will play short and DenHartog will be in LF. I really like Jensen, but she's been banged up a fair amount. I also figure VanderHeide will see plenty of time in RF, at least to start the season.

Kinch is considered a very good prospect at C, so she'll get a lot of looks to start I would expect. Strelow is a future standout hitter imo, so she'll also get plenty of chances in the lineup. Whether she's in the field remains to be seen. Same with Hansen, who has shown some pop in her bat. Ehlke is a big, strong hitter, so if her power can translate to the power 5 level quickly, she'll get some time as well.

Pitching after Amber and Autumn will be very interesting to watch. Would like to think Dueck can spell them after a year of transitioning into the program. But with Hollifield, Jones and Brandt also available, we'll see.
I agree with HolyMan that the biggest threat to our program is the budget Threat. I worked in state government level budget management for years and declining revenue appropriately scares people.

What this effort to think through our lineup, no matter how silly for a fan to do at this stage, tells me that Gopher Softball should be really deep and good In 2021. Coyle must have understood that and was willing to commit the investment to softball to allow all those seniors to stay on, which other programs did not allow. That makes me happy as the U must see softball as a critical foundational stone in what it’s trying to accomplish as an athletic program, and it should... softball is a great sport to watch and follow.
 

Hrothgar

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While watching a Gophers fall-ball game 4 years ago, I fell into conversation w/ another spectator. He turned out to be Jessica Allister's uncle, an English prof at St. Olaf. He pointed out that there were some first-year players on the field who "are potential superstars." Among them were Fiser, Partain, & Lindaman. Kemmetmueller was also in that class. I wonder: Do any of the incoming players in 2020-21 deserve that potential superstar status? It would be interesting to hear any opinions.
 

Dchris

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I'm optimistic that Piper's management style, leading to a less
stressful playing environment, coupled with instruction from two
All American college hitters will have a great effect on our hitters.
In addition, our recruiting network should expand significantly
as Wynn and Richardson have West Coast ties and Wynn is from
Georgia and was a star at Florida State. Overall, I couldn't be happier
with how everything seems to be falling into place.
 

ClassOf98Gopher

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While watching a Gophers fall-ball game 4 years ago, I fell into conversation w/ another spectator. He turned out to be Jessica Allister's uncle, an English prof at St. Olaf. He pointed out that there were some first-year players on the field who "are potential superstars." Among them were Fiser, Partain, & Lindaman. Kemmetmueller was also in that class. I wonder: Do any of the incoming players in 2020-21 deserve that potential superstar status? It would be interesting to hear any opinions.
Those 2016/2017 Freshman were part of a huge class by number. This class is the biggest numerically since that group. So at least raw numbers would seem to me to at minimum increase the odds of impact players emerging from early on in their careers out of this group of student/athletes.
 

Jaydee

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While watching a Gophers fall-ball game 4 years ago, I fell into conversation w/ another spectator. He turned out to be Jessica Allister's uncle, an English prof at St. Olaf. He pointed out that there were some first-year players on the field who "are potential superstars." Among them were Fiser, Partain, & Lindaman. Kemmetmueller was also in that class. I wonder: Do any of the incoming players in 2020-21 deserve that potential superstar status? It would be interesting to hear any opinions.
To be a starter you have to be outstanding at the plate or on the field. The Superstar does both and you can usually see recognize it pretty quickly. I remember seeing DenHartog play when she was 15 or 16 and recognizing immediately that she was something special. The odds are good with a class this size to have one or two superstars in there.
I’ve seen most of the new players play and I would say Kinch has a lot of potential. I don’t think that she will be that power hitter that we need, but she‘s probably the answer at catcher, our biggest need this year, while also contributing at the plate, like Emma did.
Denson has immediate impact potential and fills the need of a quality OF and puts speed on the bases. She should find a spot and/or push Brooke in her first year.
Dueck is a power hitter and a power pitcher. Not quite DenHartog power at bat, not quite Fiser power in the circle, but lots of potential, and in one package. Like she did with Fiser, Piper will need to improve her change up. I see her getting some innings and competing for that #2 spot. Possibly DH if not pitching?
I’ve been following Hollifield for the last year or so, although I haven’t watched her play. Flosoftball and some others have given her some attention, and I hope they’re right. Her HS stats are good but I’m not sure if that translates to Power 5 competition. She plays for Atlanta Vipers-Holbrook, which is a very competitive team, but is their #3-4 pitcher and doesn’t hit much for them. I’m hoping Jamie and Piper recognized something Holbrook hasn’t.
Ehlke has plenty of power. She can crush the ball and makes a lot of good contact. I’ve not seen her against great pitching but definitely potential at the plate. The question is, will there be a place for her on the field? Compete for DH?
Evans is pretty solid all around, but will be hard pressed to compete with Kinch at catcher. She’s very athletic and a competitor, so maybe she can push Kinch and still find a spot.
I’ve seen most of the others play and they are all good picks. Not superstars, in my opinion, but future contributors.
 

ClassOf98Gopher

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Very helpful information on the younger players and useful to enhance the excitement for 2021.

I am very interested to see if they move to a more risk-taking speed lineup and general gameplan. This would feature more Denson and Van Der Heide in the starting lineup and a higher percentage of steal attempts from Partain/Jensen/DenHartog/Strelow/Brandt and of course Gill when baserunning. Or focus more on the well-driven ball (gaps and over the fence) which could feature more Jones and another sophomore/freshman with pop in the bat.

It seems during the last 5-6 games or so of 2020, for the first time since I started following the Gophers in 2014, they decided they were going to have to gamble more with speed. It seemed effective over those final games as they were struggling a bit before that switch. Maybe they think they won’t have to go with a full-on speed gameplan next year as they may have more power options In 2020 and return to the gameplan of the previous 6 years. We will see.
 

Hrothgar

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Just a point: I remember a poster, on some site or other, arguing that Trachsel recruited West Coast players for the Gophers but didn't get the absolute cream of the crop or close to it. I don't know if that's true. If it is, Wynn and Richardson should be able to improve on the caliber of recruits from farther away.
 

ClassOf98Gopher

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“She plays for Atlanta Vipers-Holbrook, which is a very competitive team, but is their #3-4 pitcher and doesn’t hit much for them. I’m hoping Jamie and Piper recognized something Holbrook hasn’t.”

So I did a little digging on the Atlanta Vipers and am going to have to come to Hollifield’s defense here. She was behind Haley Pittman (Florida Rising Freshman) and Madison Kerpics (Georgia rising Freshman) on the Vipers! Even if she was just a little bit behind those two NationallY ranked stars in club ball, with some development from Piper - which we know she has been known to do before, she could become a very quality starter on a team that will have a few pitchers by the 2022 season.
 

Jaydee

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“She plays for Atlanta Vipers-Holbrook, which is a very competitive team, but is their #3-4 pitcher and doesn’t hit much for them. I’m hoping Jamie and Piper recognized something Holbrook hasn’t.”

So I did a little digging on the Atlanta Vipers and am going to have to come to Hollifield’s defense here. She was behind Haley Pittman (Florida Rising Freshman) and Madison Kerpics (Georgia rising Freshman) on the Vipers! Even if she was just a little bit behind those two NationallY ranked stars in club ball, with some development from Piper - which we know she has been known to do before, she could become a very quality starter on a team that will have a few pitchers by the 2022 season.
Totally agree! She’s obviously a solid recruit and a great player. I’m just saying we shouldn’t undersell our Gophers. We have ranked similarly to Florida and Georgia over the last few years so we want pitchers of that top caliber. Not to say she can’t be, just that she hasn’t been good enough yet to outperform those other top prospects. Hard to be the best if you can’t beat the best.
I was specifically responding to the thread about superstars and specifically needing big bats. There was talk of Hollifield’s hitting and, by the looks of it, she hasn’t done much of that for the Vipers. I hope she’s well and she is a superstar. We need more of them! I’m just reporting what I see.
 

Hrothgar

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Jaydee: "I was specifically responding to the thread about superstars and specifically needing big bats....just reporting what I see."
I'm also reporting what I saw. I went to FLA this past spring & saw several Gophers games, also followed others online. It was disheartening to see how passive and punchless the team was at the plate, including even some of the veteran players. Was this because of poor coaching? Injuries? Or lack of talent? This is all IMO, of course (Partain & Denhartog being the exceptions at the plate). To be a top-10 team they need not just good players but some spectacular ones, who will hit with runners on base. I'm hoping the present coaching staff additions can bring in some of those potential superstars.
 

ClassOf98Gopher

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Jaydee: "I was specifically responding to the thread about superstars and specifically needing big bats....just reporting what I see."
I'm also reporting what I saw. I went to FLA this past spring & saw several Gophers games, also followed others online. It was disheartening to see how passive and punchless the team was at the plate, including even some of the veteran players. Was this because of poor coaching? Injuries? Or lack of talent? This is all IMO, of course (Partain & Denhartog being the exceptions at the plate). To be a top-10 team they need not just good players but some spectacular ones, who will hit with runners on base. I'm hoping the present coaching staff additions can bring in some of those potential superstars.
The Gophers were somewhat unlucky in 2020. Insert Brandner into the lineup and that itself gets you several more non-conference wins and therefore correspondingly fewer losses and ties (she was that impactful of a player). Add an increasingly healthy Jensen into the lineup through the rest of the season and we would have been right where we needed to be, a three way dogfight for the regular season and tournament Big Ten titles, as the favorite with Brandner and as a true toss-up with Michigan even without Brandner.

I do understand that all teams suffer injuries of course, but I believe our roster was especially small in 2020 as result of the Rachel Lowery’s retirement and Burns’ leaving the team in that fall. Given time to analyze the situation, it is logical that our offense was a little weak in Florida without the roster size buffer most teams with 21-23 players have. (I think we had 19 traveling players - one of whom was 17 years old - so count it 18.5... that’s small).

We will not have that tiny roster again in 2021 (24 person roster)... or 2022 (at least 21 I believe based on present commitments) for that matter assuming some terribly unforeseen thing doesn’t happen.
 

Hrothgar

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The Gophers were somewhat unlucky in 2020. Insert Brandner into the lineup and that itself gets you several more non-conference wins and therefore correspondingly fewer losses and ties (she was that impactful of a player). Add an increasingly healthy Jensen into the lineup through the rest of the season and we would have been right where we needed to be, a three way dogfight for the regular season and tournament Big Ten titles, as the favorite with Brandner and as a true toss-up with Michigan even without Brandner.

I do understand that all teams suffer injuries of course, but I believe our roster was especially small in 2020 as result of the Rachel Lowery’s retirement and Burns’ leaving the team in that fall. Given time to analyze the situation, it is logical that our offense was a little weak in Florida without the roster size buffer most teams with 21-23 players have. (I think we had 19 traveling players - one of whom was 17 years old - so count it 18.5... that’s small).

We will not have that tiny roster again in 2021 (24 person roster)... or 2022 (at least 21 I believe based on present commitments) for that matter assuming some terribly unforeseen thing doesn’t happen.
Interesting analysis. I can't disagree with any of it. Let's hope for ever better things upcoming. With a great fan base and a solid coaching staff, there's every reason for the Gophers program to keep getting even better in coming years.
 
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