Gopher Softball 2022

Hrothgar

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Today's game was as deflating as yesterday's was inflating. 10 or 11 runners left on base in a 1-0 game?
 

ClassOf98Gopher

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So we still think pitching is the problem?

Frankly… yes.

Michigan is a great pitching team with a very underpowered lineup, especially with Lexie Blair hobbled. Today’s result should be in no way surprising to anybody.

Need to try to win the rubber match tomorrow.
 
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WayOfTheGopher

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I'm sure this has been said a couple times on this forum " a very winnable game". I guess all you can do is shake your head, take a deep breath and move on.
 

4EverAGopher

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The first inning for the Gophers was a repeat of what has happened throughout this season. This team, for whatever reason, has shown us way too often that they are unable to score runs and/or move the runners, when the opportunity is there.
 
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GopherAlum03

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Frankly… yes.

Michigan is a great pitching team with a very underpowered lineup, especially with Lexie Blair hobbled. Today’s result should be in no way surprising to anybody.
I beg to differ. The argument all year was our pitchers were giving up too many runs. Well, they have pitched lights out the past two games against #23 Michigan but zero run production from names not Denhartog or Espalin. So which is it? The pitching or the hitting?
Let’s look at the hitting stats for the past two games
Game 1 vs Mich https://gophersports.com/sports/softball/stats/2022/michigan/boxscore/19381

Game 2 vs Mich https://gophersports.com/sports/softball/stats/2022/michigan/boxscore/19382

Here are the overall stats with todays game included. As you will see, after Jensen there is a Grand Canyon drop off of 200 something “hitters”. Let’s build for next year.
https://gophersports.com/sports/softball/stats/2022
 


Hrothgar

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The first inning for the Gophers was a repeat of what has happened way too often throughout this season. This team, for whatever reason, has shown us way too often that they are unable to score runs and/or move the runners, when the opportunity is there.
You're right. By now we all know what, but not why. The team did great yesterday and had a chance to come out on fire today and make a real statement, but no fire was apparent. Only Espalin showed any that I saw. More than one inning when a simple good solid base hit to the outfield would've put MN in the lead. Why was there not a player in the lineup capable of that? MI's pitchers are very good but not invincible. Or are we seeing what a really weak hitting squad MN is?
 

ClassOf98Gopher

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I beg to differ. The argument all year was our pitchers were giving up too many runs. Well, they have pitched lights out the past two games against #23 Michigan but zero run production from names not Denhartog or Espalin. So which is it? The pitching or the hitting?
Let’s look at the hitting stats for the past two games
Game 1 vs Mich https://gophersports.com/sports/softball/stats/2022/michigan/boxscore/19381

Game 2 vs Mich https://gophersports.com/sports/softball/stats/2022/michigan/boxscore/19382

Here are the overall stats with todays game included. As you will see, after Jensen there is a Grand Canyon drop off of 200 something “hitters”. Let’s build for next year.
https://gophersports.com/sports/softball/stats/2022
So… we disagree. We both have our views publicly stated.

Clearly I believe our roster is pretty strong on hitting, with more help on the way next year with Oakland and Leaschber.

As for pitching next year, if Pease comes back at full strength, if Schwartz can pitch at the college level, and if Hollifield can get her screwball (which actually has a lot of movement) in the zone regularly, all alongside Leavitt - then we will be fine.

As for the remainder of this year, we just need to try to win games.
 

4EverAGopher

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On the positive I want to give a shouout to Denson. We have also discussed on this forum how it would be nice to see some sparks from this team. Although it was quite brief, her base running was enjoyable in the top of the 7th.
 

4EverAGopher

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I do feel this team is built on a "swing for the fence" mentality. So what is the problem....hitting, pitching or maybe coaching?

Oh how I loved watching Partain at bat. She always made it look so so easy. To me no matter the pitcher, she had some of the best ball/bat contact. Too bad others have not learned from her.
 



ecoperson

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You're right. By now we all know what, but not why. The team did great yesterday and had a chance to come out on fire today and make a real statement, but no fire was apparent. Only Espalin showed any that I saw. More than one inning when a simple good solid base hit to the outfield would've put MN in the lead. Why was there not a player in the lineup capable of that? MI's pitchers are very good but not invincible. Or are we seeing what a really weak hitting squad MN is?
Why do you think they don't have any apparent fire? Could it be that Michigan just made some plays at opportune times? There are two teams playing the game.
 

rugger14

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I do feel this team is built on a "swing for the fence" mentality. So what is the problem....hitting, pitching or maybe coaching?

Oh how I loved watching Partain at bat. She always made it look so so easy. To me no matter the pitcher, she had some of the best ball/bat contact. Too bad others have not learned from her.

She was kind of like the Gopher Rod Carew. What a great hitter. Good kid too.
 


4EverAGopher

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Whether we want to admit it or not, Istening to the telecast and watching these games, the announcers are pretty much spot on about the MN game both hitting and pitching.
 



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Whether we want to admit it or not, Istening to the telecast and watching these games, the announcers are pretty much spot on about the MN game both hitting and pitching.
Another 3 stranded so far. This is the second time in as many days that the broadcasters mention our lack of strategy and hitting philosophy. They said that some players are really good in practice but can’t take that same mentality to games.
 

4EverAGopher

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A few things -

Did Jensen use to be more of a hitter like Partain who would go with the pitch? Something is so different this seaosn with Jensen in the batter's box. Can someone help me out with this?

Chavez, Chavez, Chavez..Freshman making crucial Basic mental errors. Our coaching staff needs to reel her in and remind her of the present situation....if they have to do it after every out, so be it.

Strelow has been playing some of her best defense this series, but her bat just isn't coming to life as much as it is needed. But I am impressed with her defensive plays.

That Michigan runner was home and DenHartog should not have thrown the ball there. The pressure that inning was all on Pease and she did not handle it.
 
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GopherAlum03

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A few things -

Did Jensen use to be more of a hitter like Partain who would go with the pitch? Something is so different this seaosn with Jensen in the batter's box. Can someone help me out with this?

Chavez, Chavez, Chavez..Freshman making crucial Basic mental errors. Our coaching staff needs to reel her in and remind her of the present situation. If they have to do it after every out, so be it.

Strelow has been playing some of her best defense this series, but her bat just isn't coming to life as much as it is needed. But I am impressed with her defensive plays.

That Michigan runner was home and DenHartog should not have thrown the ball there. The pressure that inning was all on Pease and she did not handle it.
Don’t forget about Kinch 8 at bats and 7 strikeouts.
 
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4EverAGopher

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After watching this huge series in the BIG, I am concluding that the Minnesota issues this season lie in both players and coaches. These games were definitely winnable, but not with the approach and sloppy ball by us and lack of performing under pressure by our hitters and pitchers.
 

Hrothgar

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Why do you think they don't have any apparent fire? Could it be that Michigan just made some plays at opportune times? There are two teams playing the game.
The key word is apparent. Espalin was the only Gophers player I saw showing any visibly. Otherwise a lot of errors not corrected: Leaving too many ROB, leaving the bases loaded twice, base-running mistakes, swinging at eye-high rise balls but laying off strikes down the middle of the plate, passively taking called third strikes, bunting at rise balls above the letters, swinging at ball four w/ bases loaded twice, the bottom half of the batting order not driving in a run, leaving 10 ROB in a 1-0 game, and others. The BTN color commentater mentioned more than once about both teams, in fact, having a season-long shortage of hitters producing vital hits with ROB, which has kept them in the middle of the BIG pack, not at the top of it.
 

4EverAGopher

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This team, as much as we want to see it, just isn't prepared physically and mentally for the Post Season. My comment has nothing to do with being a pessimist or an optimist but a realist.

Win or lose these coaches need to be taking in depth looks at what is working and what isn't. Then address what isn't and try to improve on it. How much time is being spent on a struggling individual's slkills during practice, if any? If the issues are being addressed, I just don't see it.

Now, on the flip side of that, if these coaches have and just keeping seeing the same thing over and over and over like we do each game, then it all falls on the player's shoulders.

Are our softball players being developed in this sport like they should be?
 

ClassOf98Gopher

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This team, as much as we want to see it, just isn't prepared physically and mentally for the Post Season. My comment has nothing to do with being a pessimist or an optimist but a realist.

Win or lose these coaches need to be taking in depth looks at what is working and what isn't. Then address what isn't and try to improve on it. How much time is being spent on a struggling individual's slkills during practice, if any? If the issues are being addressed, I just don't see it.

Now, on the flip side of that, if these coaches have and just keeping seeing the same thing over and over and over like we do each game, then it all falls on the player's shoulders.

Are our softball players being developed in this sport like they should be?
I know people are frustrated with the losses. But here are a few facts:

1. Other teams want to win games too.
2. Other teams want to recruit the best players they can too (accepting the limit of the 13 scholarship allocation).
3. Softball has increased in popularity thereby increasing the number of good softball players entering college.
4. The COVID 5th year of eligibility means a good player gets 20 percent more out of her college career and further increases the talent pool all teams have available to them.

If you consider the above facts, it is pretty easy to understand the logic that there is more parity in college softball in general and Big Ten softball in particular. I can see that while watching these games. If you consider the quality of the teams I watched play the Gophers back 5 to 7 years ago, they are almost all better teams. My view is that with the exceptions of Michigan and Minnesota, probably every other team in the Big Ten is better in 2022 than they were in 2017.

Parity sucks if your team is used to being at the top of the conference.

I am still excited for the only post-season that really matters to Big Ten softball/baseball teams - the Big Ten conference championship tournament!
 

4EverAGopher

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It it not about parity or the wins or losses, it is the quality of the sport and how they lose. It is not just softball it is across the board in all sports.

I have stated it in other posts, today's student athlete looks at things so much different than we did years ago and even a decade ago. They apparently have so much more on their plate that they have to worry about in their personal lives.....so I have read.

I feel what I find the most interesting is the thing they live by day and night, technology/social media, is probably the main thing that has the most negative impact on their everyday lives.

Also, I don't feel Michigan looked that much better than Minnesota in this series. They just made less errors and captilized at the plate much better than we did.

I am a volleyball season ticket holder and one thing I can say for sure is, no matter the athlete that is recruited we have a Head Coach who has "DEVELOPED" many of those athletes that have played in the Minnesota program. Yes, there is more parity in this sport too, but I for one am grateful for Coach Hugh McCutcheons. You can ask many volleyball fans and they would agree with me on Hugh. HE PUTS OUT QUALITY TEAMS EVERY SEASON and all his players succeed on the court.
 

Hrothgar

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It it not about parity or the wins or losses, it is the quality of the sport and how they lose. It is not just softball it is across the board in all sports.

I have stated it in other posts, today's student athlete looks at things so much different than we did years ago and even a decade ago. They apparently have so much more on their plate that they have to worry about in their personal lives.....so I have read.

I feel what I find the most interesting is the thing they live by day and night, technology/social media, is probably the main thing that has the most negative impact on their everyday lives.

Also, I don't feel Michigan looked that much better than Minnesota in this series. They just made less errors and captilized at the plate much better than we did.

I am a volleyball season ticket holder and one thing I can say for sure is, no matter the athlete that is recruited we have a Head Coach who has "DEVELOPED" many of those athletes that have played in the Minnesota program. Yes, there is more parity in this sport too, but I for one am grateful for Coach Hugh McCutcheons. You can ask many volleyball fans and they would agree with me on Hugh. HE PUTS OUT QUALITY TEAMS EVERY SEASON and all his players succeed on the court.
Interesting. The softball team MI fields & sends to bat in 2022 is equally as questionable as MN's (MI's weaker IMO on defense). But MI has 2 quality veteran pitchers whose ERAs are around 2.00; MN's pitchers hover around 4+ ERA, if not higher at times. In offense MN all season has stereotypically sent Espalin, Evans, and DenHartog up to load the bases, where they've stood stranded for the next 3 outs. Run production below those 3 batters has been minimal, sometimes
non-existent, as per this weekend.

MN's slide downward began after 2019 & the WCWS, just when it seemed it would start entering a real golden age. In just 3 years, I find MN softball 2022 to be directionless & the staff leadership MIA in articulating itself well as to where it's heading. Without a revamped pitching staff & 4-5 aggressive, strong new bats, how can 2023 be better?

As for Hugh McCutcheon, he must get countless offers of other jobs, but he came here, recruits elite talent every year, and STAYS PUT!
 

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Interesting. The softball team MI fields & sends to bat in 2022 is equally as questionable as MN's (MI's weaker IMO on defense). But MI has 2 quality veteran pitchers whose ERAs are around 2.00; MN's pitchers hover around 4+ ERA, if not higher at times. In offense MN all season has stereotypically sent Espalin, Evans, and DenHartog up to load the bases, where they've stood stranded for the next 3 outs. Run production below those 3 batters has been minimal, sometimes
non-existent, as per this weekend.

MN's slide downward began after 2019 & the WCWS, just when it seemed it would start entering a real golden age. In just 3 years, I find MN softball 2022 to be directionless & the staff leadership MIA in articulating itself well as to where it's heading. Without a revamped pitching staff & 4-5 aggressive, strong new bats, how can 2023 be better?

As for Hugh McCutcheon, he must get countless offers of other jobs, but he came here, recruits elite talent every year, and STAYS PUT!

Interesting that Hugh stays here. Not sure how much he makes. I talked to Alister the first year season tix for softball were available and she told.me the athletic department almost didnt approve season softball tix due.to the cost of printing and postage. Softball is definitely not a revenue sport.
 

ecoperson

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It it not about parity or the wins or losses, it is the quality of the sport and how they lose. It is not just softball it is across the board in all sports.

I have stated it in other posts, today's student athlete looks at things so much different than we did years ago and even a decade ago. They apparently have so much more on their plate that they have to worry about in their personal lives.....so I have read.

I feel what I find the most interesting is the thing they live by day and night, technology/social media, is probably the main thing that has the most negative impact on their everyday lives.

Also, I don't feel Michigan looked that much better than Minnesota in this series. They just made less errors and captilized at the plate much better than we did.

I am a volleyball season ticket holder and one thing I can say for sure is, no matter the athlete that is recruited we have a Head Coach who has "DEVELOPED" many of those athletes that have played in the Minnesota program. Yes, there is more parity in this sport too, but I for one am grateful for Coach Hugh McCutcheons. You can ask many volleyball fans and they would agree with me on Hugh. HE PUTS OUT QUALITY TEAMS EVERY SEASON and all his players succeed on the court.
Fickle fans on the GopherHole are on Hugh's case every year for not playing his bench, for playing too many bench players, for not recruiting a middle, and for not winning a natty! I have learned to be patient and just enjoy the game.
 

AZGopher8

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Fickle fans on the GopherHole are on Hugh's case every year for not playing his bench, for playing too many bench players, for not recruiting a middle, and for not winning a natty! I have learned to be patient and just enjoy the game.
You are correct. Those fans are delusional. They are the type that will never be satisfied even when winning a National Championship. They will expect it every year, but that is fantasy land in the hyper competitive world of elite sports.

The difference between making the final 8, the final four, the championship game, and winning the title is miniscule. So many things have to fall into just the right place. Hugh has them consistently competitive within the top 10 programs in the country virtually every season. To complain about that, says much more about the complainer than the coach or the program.

The issues for Gopher softball go beyond simple solutions. There are several areas that need to be addressed to get this program back on track. And by track, I am referring to the trajectory that Allister had it on. The season of the WCWS was just 3 years ago, yet it seems like a lifetime. As was mentioned before, I think many (myself included) thought the program could build on that success for years to come. Unfortunately, that has not happened.
 

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Anyone else confused why Kinch & Dray get so many at bats? Hansen and Denson both are my first two picks to come in and change things up. Both of these players obviously need to be given more playing time. Hansen came in against Nebraska and hit a grand slam and Denson came in and took a hr hitters job by a sac fly RBI. When will these coaches do something different.
 

GopherAlum03

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Anyone else confused why Kinch & Dray get so many at bats? Hansen and Denson both are my first two picks to come in and change things up. Both of these players obviously need to be given more playing time. Hansen came in against Nebraska and hit a grand slam and Denson came in and took a hr hitters job by a sac fly RBI. When will these coaches do something different.
Based off of? I agree with Hansen since she has an OB% in the 400’s but Denson’s on base percentage is in the 200’s. Sure she had a nice fly out to center but is that who we really want at the plate when we need to get on or score runs? That was her first RBI in 19 at bats. Costa, Valencia and Cox all have better on base percentages and the first two mentioned have better batting averages. The first off the bench in my opinion should be Hansen, Cox and Valencia in that order. I am perplexed as to why Cox doesn’t get more time after that laser double the other day. She is 2-5 with a double, 3 runs scored and an RBI and she sits? How does Dray and Kinch lead the team in strikeouts but yet play every game? The coaches know better and they refuse to play the best. Valencia has had 3 at bats, is 2-3, hits a missile off of Texas closer and no more playing time? My guess is they need her for pitching and don’t want her risking unnecessary injury. What is the definition of insanity, coach Ritter mentioned it on National television the other day. Doing the same thing over and over and expecting different results. Well she’s playing the same strikeout queens over and over and expecting to win. Our pitiful record says otherwise.
 

Hrothgar

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Anyone else confused why Kinch & Dray get so many at bats? Hansen and Denson both are my first two picks to come in and change things up. Both of these players obviously need to be given more playing time. Hansen came in against Nebraska and hit a grand slam and Denson came in and took a hr hitters job by a sac fly RBI. When will these coaches do something different.
Dray plays because she's really outstanding & reliable defensively at first base. Kinch seems reliable behind the plate & she throws runners out. Both have trouble at the plate because they don't shorten their swings and hit defensively with 2 strikes, thus often striking out, predictably.

In putting Hansen over Dray at 1st, you'd maybe get marginally better hitting, though Hansen has never hit like she was expected to out of hs, and her defensive skills on the infield are far below Dray's, as witnessed by her play at that position im 2021. Injuries seem to have hindered Hansen. Denson's position would need to be: either DP, which Espalin has nailed down, or LF, which Jensen has tenure at. Giving Hansen & Denson more playing time or ABs would mean creating space for them. Where?
 

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Dray plays because she's really outstanding & reliable defensively at first base. Kinch seems reliable behind the plate & she throws runners out. Both have trouble at the plate because they don't shorten their swings and hit defensively with 2 strikes, thus often striking out, predictably.

In putting Hansen over Dray at 1st, you'd maybe get marginally better hitting, though Hansen has never hit like she was expected to out of hs, and her defensive skills on the infield are far below Dray's, as witnessed by her play at that position im 2021. Injuries seem to have hindered Hansen. Denson's position would need to be: either DP, which Espalin has nailed down, or LF, which Jensen has tenure at. Giving Hansen & Denson more playing time or ABs would mean creating space for them. Where?
Dray has 3 errors at 1B this season and Hansen has 0. Kinch has 4 errors behind the plate and I don’t think it’s worth going 1-8 with 7 strikeouts just to throw a few runners out here and there.

You can move Dray to C which opens up 1B, Costa, Valencia, Hansen. You can also try to play Espalin in right and move Chloe to LF which opens up the DP slot for another big stick.
 




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