Gopher softball 2023

Hrothgar

Well-known member
Joined
Sep 1, 2017
Messages
1,006
Reaction score
562
Points
113
Against SCU, the MN defense looked outstanding, both infield (great arms) & outfield (where some true speed exists). With Kinch missing, catching was questionable. Don't know about pitching. Not bad but not spectacular either; at least there are more than 2 in the circle. Hard to judge the hitting, but some spectacular speed on the base paths. Oakland looks like a potential superstar at SS, something that's been missing at SS for a few years. If the pitching holds up, defense may be the team's strength. (For DII, SCU didn't look any slouch at all.)
 

GopherAlum03

Member
Joined
Feb 13, 2022
Messages
44
Reaction score
68
Points
18
Was anyone able to attend the games last Friday? I was not able to make it. I’m interested in how the offense looked. Did we take good swings? Does the lineup look more balanced that last year? GO GOPHS.
 

Hrothgar

Well-known member
Joined
Sep 1, 2017
Messages
1,006
Reaction score
562
Points
113
Was anyone able to attend the games last Friday? I was not able to make it. I’m interested in how the offense looked. Did we take good swings? Does the lineup look more balanced that last year? GO GOPHS.
Yes, there were some good swings, but they were facing DII pitching,which makes it hazardous to predict. I made the mistake in fall ball 2021 of praising the hitting skyhigh only to join other posters all spring 2022 in complaining about the so frustrating lack of hitting with RISP. I won't make that mistake again this time. Anyone else game?
 

ClassOf98Gopher

Well-known member
Joined
Feb 19, 2020
Messages
847
Reaction score
479
Points
63
Yes, there were some good swings, but they were facing DII pitching,which makes it hazardous to predict. I made the mistake in fall ball 2021 of praising the hitting skyhigh only to join other posters all spring 2022 in complaining about the so frustrating lack of hitting with RISP. I won't make that mistake again this time. Anyone else game?
I wasn’t at the game; but I clearly remember that fall ball interpretive mistake written in some posts from last year!

There is probably only so much that the fan can project forward from September into February besides maybe what positions the new players are playing.
 

Gopher68

Well-known member
Joined
Nov 12, 2008
Messages
503
Reaction score
277
Points
63
Went to the UMD games this afternoon. I was there for the entire first game and 2 innings of the second. These are my random thoughts:
  • Autumn Pease pitched the entire 7 innings of the first game striking out 15. Obviously, she looked very good.
  • Natalie hit two home runs - a bomb to right and a liner to center. Her fielding was excellent.
  • Burnett hit a home run off the scoreboard. She looked comfortable at the plate and in the field.
  • Oakland hit an absolute laser over the fence in dead center. She also made a very nice play in the field.
  • Overall, the defense looked very good.
  • As mentioned earlier, team speed looks really good.
  • Kinch was not there. Leschber did the catching. She was more than adequate.
  • Enter pitched the two innings of the second game that I watched. She had a rocky start, but seemed to settle in when I left.
Obviously a very limited sample size against a non-DI opponent, but I liked what I saw.
 
Last edited:


Hrothgar

Well-known member
Joined
Sep 1, 2017
Messages
1,006
Reaction score
562
Points
113
Went to the UMD games this afternoon. I was there for the entire first game and 2 innings of the second. These are my random thoughts:
  • Autumn Pease pitched the entire 7 innings of the first game striking out 15. Obviously, she looked very good.
  • Natalie hit two home runs - a bomb to right and a liner to center. Her fielding was excellent.
  • Burnett hit a home run off the scoreboard. She looked comfortable at the plate and in the field.
  • Oakland hit an absolute laser over the fence in dead center. She also made a very nice play in the field.
  • Overall, the defense looked very good.
  • As mentioned earlier, team speed looks really good.
  • Kinch was not there. Leschber did the catching. She was more than adequate.
  • Enter pitched the two innings of the second game that I watched. She had a rocky start, but seemed to settle in when I left.
Obviously a very limited sample size against a non-DI opponent, but I liked what I saw.
I also saw all of game 1 and left after inning 1 of the second game. I agree with your thoughts, except for the catching: a few too many passed balls & Kinch has a better throwing arm. Hopefully their pitching holds up against top opponents. I agree that pitching and defense could be the team strength.
Why is Kinch missing? This team seems pretty relaxed and with good team spirit. Does anyone know why Kinch is missing?
 

Hrothgar

Well-known member
Joined
Sep 1, 2017
Messages
1,006
Reaction score
562
Points
113
I’ve heard that the incoming freshmen are looking like STUDS. It’s gonna be a good year!
Judging from fall ball, this seems to be true of Oakland & Burnett. Any others that fit that description? Just curious.
 

Twocents

Member
Joined
Feb 13, 2022
Messages
16
Reaction score
27
Points
13
Judging from fall ball, this seems to be true of Oakland & Burnett. Any others that fit that description? Just curious.
I think Syd Schwartz will be a very good pitcher. She has a different element with her spin and change ups. I think she will have the most success vs tougher teams.
Also transfer Amani Bradley has a good swing and looks like a good lead off hitter.
 

rwlarson

Active member
Joined
Apr 2, 2009
Messages
115
Reaction score
161
Points
43
I arrived late for the first game so I didn’t see the first DenHartog HR, but I saw DenHartog and Oakland both pulverize line drives over the CF wall, and in the second game they both hit moonshots over the LF wall into a pretty stiff north wind. Both of those were hit off Hambrick, who along with Schwartz, threw two innings against each team in Game 2.

The Gopher hitters weren’t very kind to Hambrick, who struggled a little with command of her off speed stuff, which left her vulnerable to the Gophers right-handed hitters. Her very good back door curve, which she was able to hit the corner with, made her tougher against lefties yesterday. The Gophers scored six runs against her in two innings, but to be fair the UMD defense didn’t help her much. By comparison, she pitched 3-1/3 innings against last year’s iteration of the Gophers and gave up three hits and three runs (one earned) with three Ks and zero walks.

Schwartz was outstanding yesterday. She exhibited a confident, no-nonsense presence in the circle and wasted no time throwing strike after strike. When she is throwing her change for strikes, she will be tough against any team. She only surrendered two hits hit in four innings, although she was spared facing DenHartog and Oakland when we sent up pinch hitters ahead 11-1 in the sixth.

Enter started Game 2 and struggled finding the strike zone early, ultimately costing a run when one of UMDs best hitters, Poole, lined a solid single to LF with runners on first and second. Once she settled in, she induced mostly soft ground balls with the exception of a double that DenHartog just missed with a diving attempt. She threw three innings before being relieved by Schwartz and Hambrick, who both threw two scoreless innings against the Bulldog hitters.

My overall impression:
  • Oakland is every bit the stud we hoped she’d be offensively and defensively. Greeting an experienced D1 pitcher like Hambrick with a towering HR and hitting line drives her next two at bats just confirmed what I already suspected. She will fare well against D1 pitching, and may even be our most polished hitter already. She also showed off above average range and arm, going deep in the hole on a few occasions to rob UMD of hits. Her physical stature, confidence, and overall play reminds me of Lilli Piper. I think she could be that good.
  • The Gophers really upgraded their team speed. Bradley and Gardner both nearly beat out routine ground balls to the right side. Those two and Burnett appear to be as fast or maybe even faster than a healthy Jensen.
  • Our overall defense should be better than last year despite losing Dowell. Outfield defense in particular should be much better. Bradley has a much better arm than Jensen in LF, and Burnett and Gardner both nearly threw out UMD hitters at first on singles to right. Gardner also exhibited a cannon from the right field corner to second.
  • A healthy Pease will improve the pitching immensely. Enter performed about the same, maybe even a little better, than Leavitt did against UMD a year ago. Leavitt allowed several hard hit balls while UMD had trouble squaring anything up against Enter, who appears to be more of a finesse, drop ball pitcher. Schwartz absolutely killed it yesterday, and should challenge Enter for the #2 starter role in the spring. I wish we could have seen Enter against the Gopher hitters. Despite her struggles yesterday, Hambrick is certainly an upgrade over our #3 or #4 pitchers from last year, but yesterday at least, Schwartz in particular and Enter were more impressive.
  • Cox continues to impress at the plate and will once again be our #1 pinch hitter. Leschber was also solid. I suspect that when Kinch returns, Leschber will be the starting 1B. Ehlke is imposing at the plate, has a good eye, and makes better contact than she has in the past. Connell and Werner are freshmen who need more time to develop. Hambrick and Schwartz handled them pretty easily. So with Cox, Valencia, Gardner, and Ehlke, we have decent options off the bench.
 



Hrothgar

Well-known member
Joined
Sep 1, 2017
Messages
1,006
Reaction score
562
Points
113
I arrived late for the first game so I didn’t see the first DenHartog HR, but I saw DenHartog and Oakland both pulverize line drives over the CF wall, and in the second game they both hit moonshots over the LF wall into a pretty stiff north wind. Both of those were hit off Hambrick, who along with Schwartz, threw two innings against each team in Game 2.

The Gopher hitters weren’t very kind to Hambrick, who struggled a little with command of her off speed stuff, which left her vulnerable to the Gophers right-handed hitters. Her very good back door curve, which she was able to hit the corner with, made her tougher against lefties yesterday. The Gophers scored six runs against her in two innings, but to be fair the UMD defense didn’t help her much. By comparison, she pitched 3-1/3 innings against last year’s iteration of the Gophers and gave up three hits and three runs (one earned) with three Ks and zero walks.

Schwartz was outstanding yesterday. She exhibited a confident, no-nonsense presence in the circle and wasted no time throwing strike after strike. When she is throwing her change for strikes, she will be tough against any team. She only surrendered two hits hit in four innings, although she was spared facing DenHartog and Oakland when we sent up pinch hitters ahead 11-1 in the sixth.

Enter started Game 2 and struggled finding the strike zone early, ultimately costing a run when one of UMDs best hitters, Poole, lined a solid single to LF with runners on first and second. Once she settled in, she induced mostly soft ground balls with the exception of a double that DenHartog just missed with a diving attempt. She threw three innings before being relieved by Schwartz and Hambrick, who both threw two scoreless innings against the Bulldog hitters.

My overall impression:
  • Oakland is every bit the stud we hoped she’d be offensively and defensively. Greeting an experienced D1 pitcher like Hambrick with a towering HR and hitting line drives her next two at bats just confirmed what I already suspected. She will fare well against D1 pitching, and may even be our most polished hitter already. She also showed off above average range and arm, going deep in the hole on a few occasions to rob UMD of hits. Her physical stature, confidence, and overall play reminds me of Lilli Piper. I think she could be that good.
  • The Gophers really upgraded their team speed. Bradley and Gardner both nearly beat out routine ground balls to the right side. Those two and Burnett appear to be as fast or maybe even faster than a healthy Jensen.
  • Our overall defense should be better than last year despite losing Dowell. Outfield defense in particular should be much better. Bradley has a much better arm than Jensen in LF, and Burnett and Gardner both nearly threw out UMD hitters at first on singles to right. Gardner also exhibited a cannon from the right field corner to second.
  • A healthy Pease will improve the pitching immensely. Enter performed about the same, maybe even a little better, than Leavitt did against UMD a year ago. Leavitt allowed several hard hit balls while UMD had trouble squaring anything up against Enter, who appears to be more of a finesse, drop ball pitcher. Schwartz absolutely killed it yesterday, and should challenge Enter for the #2 starter role in the spring. I wish we could have seen Enter against the Gopher hitters. Despite her struggles yesterday, Hambrick is certainly an upgrade over our #3 or #4 pitchers from last year, but yesterday at least, Schwartz in particular and Enter were more impressive.
  • Cox continues to impress at the plate and will once again be our #1 pinch hitter. Leschber was also solid. I suspect that when Kinch returns, Leschber will be the starting 1B. Ehlke is imposing at the plate, has a good eye, and makes better contact than she has in the past. Connell and Werner are freshmen who need more time to develop. Hambrick and Schwartz handled them pretty easily. So with Cox, Valencia, Gardner, and Ehlke, we have decent options off the bench.
Great comments! Easy to agree with. Notes: Dowell was the best SS in the BIG last year, but Oakland is likely even better because of size and range, not to mention hitting. Her line-drive HR to CF was pretty stupendous. The centerfielder hardly had time to turn around to watch it.

I've only seen Hambrick pitch once but was impressed by her size & stature in the circle, plus she seemed to have good velocity. The addition of overall foot speed and defense look outstanding. DenHartog appears almost able to cover anything hit in the air anywhere to the outfield, but she's flanked in left & right by two who are even faster than she is. The infield is equally strong, the silent gem being Vazquez at third. If the pitchers can avoid BB and keep the ball in the park, they should get lots of support. It looks like most of the four pitch pretty much to contact.

It's hard to get a fix on how good Leschber is. Is she a first baseman by nature? Lefthanded catchers? Not a good idea, I think, and I'm lefthanded myself. Surprising Ceynowa hasn't caught, but I saw her warming up Enter before the game; Ceynowa threw each pitch back underhanded; an arm injury? The batting order won't be overloaded with lefthanders. (Too bad for us lefties.) I think a key to possible team success will be producing runs with base hits & speed, not waiting for hitters to produce bases-empty HRs. I liked the two RBI singles Strelow hit. A great year at the plate from her would be fantastic. What will a DI St. Thomas be like on October 14? Hopefully it won't be snowing yet,
 

Gopher68

Well-known member
Joined
Nov 12, 2008
Messages
503
Reaction score
277
Points
63
Great comments! Easy to agree with. Notes: Dowell was the best SS in the BIG last year, but Oakland is likely even better because of size and range, not to mention hitting. Her line-drive HR to CF was pretty stupendous. The centerfielder hardly had time to turn around to watch it.

I've only seen Hambrick pitch once but was impressed by her size & stature in the circle, plus she seemed to have good velocity. The addition of overall foot speed and defense look outstanding. DenHartog appears almost able to cover anything hit in the air anywhere to the outfield, but she's flanked in left & right by two who are even faster than she is. The infield is equally strong, the silent gem being Vazquez at third. If the pitchers can avoid BB and keep the ball in the park, they should get lots of support. It looks like most of the four pitch pretty much to contact.

It's hard to get a fix on how good Leschber is. Is she a first baseman by nature? Lefthanded catchers? Not a good idea, I think, and I'm lefthanded myself. Surprising Ceynowa hasn't caught, but I saw her warming up Enter before the game; Ceynowa threw each pitch back underhanded; an arm injury? The batting order won't be overloaded with lefthanders. (Too bad for us lefties.) I think a key to possible team success will be producing runs with base hits & speed, not waiting for hitters to produce bases-empty HRs. I liked the two RBI singles Strelow hit. A great year at the plate from her would be fantastic. What will a DI St. Thomas be like on October 14? Hopefully it won't be snowing yet,
I assume you mean Chavez at third. She looks great over there. Leschber typically played first. She did get recognition as a catcher. She could fill in if the Gophers find themselves in a pinch. As you mentioned, arm strength is an issue, passed balls she can work on correcting.
 

Hrothgar

Well-known member
Joined
Sep 1, 2017
Messages
1,006
Reaction score
562
Points
113
I assume you mean Chavez at third. She looks great over there. Leschber typically played first. She did get recognition as a catcher. She could fill in if the Gophers find themselves in a pinch. As you mentioned, arm strength is an issue, passed balls she can work on correcting.
Yes, I meant Chavez.
 

John3298

New member
Joined
Jan 10, 2020
Messages
4
Reaction score
4
Points
3
Does anyone know what the schedule will look like for 2023? It doesn't look like Minnesota will be playing in any of the premier pre-conference tournaments. The only thing I've seen announced for them is the weekend of the B1G-ACC Challenge.
 



John3298

New member
Joined
Jan 10, 2020
Messages
4
Reaction score
4
Points
3
Per Baylor's newly released schedule, Minnesota will be playing in their round-robin tournament Feb 24-26 along with Maryland and Texas A&M-Commerce
 


John3298

New member
Joined
Jan 10, 2020
Messages
4
Reaction score
4
Points
3
Per LSU's schedule, Minnesota will be playing in the Judi Garman Classic Mar 3-5. Unclear who their opponents will be (other than LSU), but this is generally a tournament with good competition.
 

mngophersport1995

New member
Joined
May 1, 2022
Messages
11
Reaction score
5
Points
3
Sara Kinch is in the portal. Only 2 players left from the original 2020 class... something must have gone wrong to have almost lost a whole class.
 

Gopher68

Well-known member
Joined
Nov 12, 2008
Messages
503
Reaction score
277
Points
63
Sara Kinch is in the portal. Only 2 players left from the original 2020 class... something must have gone wrong to have almost lost a whole class.
Sorry to hear this. There was a coaching change after that class had signed. Surprising that most of them waited 2 years before leaving.
 
Last edited:

Dchris

New member
Joined
Apr 26, 2020
Messages
8
Reaction score
16
Points
3
Sara Kinch is in the portal. Only 2 players left from the original 2020 class... something must have gone wrong to have almost lost a whole class.
Who will catch in her absence? Strelow caught during her frosh year. Claire Cenewoa (sp) is listed as a catcher but hasn't made an appearance in her two years. Leschber has caught but she is a lefty.
 

ClassOf98Gopher

Well-known member
Joined
Feb 19, 2020
Messages
847
Reaction score
479
Points
63
Who will catch in her absence? Strelow caught during her frosh year. Claire Cenewoa (sp) is listed as a catcher but hasn't made an appearance in her two years. Leschber has caught but she is a lefty.
They will try Cox at catcher and Strelow at 2nd is my best guess.

This Kinch loss really hurts.
 


Hrothgar

Well-known member
Joined
Sep 1, 2017
Messages
1,006
Reaction score
562
Points
113
Sara Kinch is in the portal. Only 2 players left from the original 2020 class... something must have gone wrong to have almost lost a whole class.
Last year's pitching debacle created lots of uncertainty, which the program seemed unprepared for. If Kinch didn't appear in fallball now, were the coaches not forewarned and actively looking for stability behind the plate as this school year began?
 


Hrothgar

Well-known member
Joined
Sep 1, 2017
Messages
1,006
Reaction score
562
Points
113
Another player lured in by that 2019 WCWS run.
I agree. The players attracted after 2019 made a very good team in the field but some didn't stay. With outstanding pitching the Gophers would've won the 2020 BIG title by a good distance. But the pitching was a catastrophe. It's a mystery that the program didn't foresee the potential pitching problem with Pease having off-season surgery & being left with a freshman as the only pitcher potentially capable, on paper, of pitching a complete 7 innings. More than once the team build like early 8-0, 9-0 or late-inning leads (as at MI), but had no pitching to put the opponent away. Not a surprise that good players left. The fact remains that MN hasn't brought in an All-American pitching talent since Fiser and she was a freshman 6-7 years ago. You can't win w/o recruiting great pitching.
 

Joined
Sep 27, 2021
Messages
48
Reaction score
46
Points
18
They will try Cox at catcher and Strelow at 2nd is my best guess.

This Kinch loss really hurts.
No chance they put Cox behind the plate. Bad knees. Same for Strelow. I'm guessing the 2023 catcher is not on the current roster. Depth and experience, yes the loss hurts, but there are better catchers out there. Key is finding one.
 

Joined
Sep 27, 2021
Messages
48
Reaction score
46
Points
18
I agree. The players attracted after 2019 made a very good team in the field but some didn't stay. With outstanding pitching the Gophers would've won the 2020 BIG title by a good distance. But the pitching was a catastrophe. It's a mystery that the program didn't foresee the potential pitching problem with Pease having off-season surgery & being left with a freshman as the only pitcher potentially capable, on paper, of pitching a complete 7 innings. More than once the team build like early 8-0, 9-0 or late-inning leads (as at MI), but had no pitching to put the opponent away. Not a surprise that good players left. The fact remains that MN hasn't brought in an All-American pitching talent since Fiser and she was a freshman 6-7 years ago. You can't win w/o recruiting great pitching.
If we remember correctly, both Dueck and Hostettler left in the fall. No way the coaching staff saw that coming and in no way was prepared for that. No way did they see Pease being as limited as she was, and really didn't see the trainwreck of Leavitt's personality on the team's culture. I think they went out and addressed the pitching concerns the best they could this offseason....blue chip P5 pitchers are not hammering down the door to come to MN to play.
 

Joined
Sep 27, 2021
Messages
48
Reaction score
46
Points
18
Last year's pitching debacle created lots of uncertainty, which the program seemed unprepared for. If Kinch didn't appear in fallball now, were the coaches not forewarned and actively looking for stability behind the plate as this school year began?
Do you know first hand that they weren't looking? I have knowledge that they were. Finding a quality player in the portal that wants to come here at semester break is probably a little more difficult than one might think. See my other post about the pitching issue. No way can a program PREPARE for an athlete deciding to quit/leave the program after the school year has started. Students don't jump into a school in the middle of a semester, as much as they tried to get pitching at semester break, it didn't work out. I think we as fans need to have a better understanding that what we see is only a portion of what is going on. I'll trust the coaches vs fans all day.
 

mngolf

Well-known member
Joined
Feb 2, 2012
Messages
433
Reaction score
285
Points
63
No chance they put Cox behind the plate. Bad knees. Same for Strelow. I'm guessing the 2023 catcher is not on the current roster. Depth and experience, yes the loss hurts, but there are better catchers out there. Key is finding one.
My step-daughter is a 2024 catcher that wants to play for MN. Timing is everything. ;)
 

Hrothgar

Well-known member
Joined
Sep 1, 2017
Messages
1,006
Reaction score
562
Points
113
If we remember correctly, both Dueck and Hostettler left in the fall. No way the coaching staff saw that coming and in no way was prepared for that. No way did they see Pease being as limited as she was, and really didn't see the trainwreck of Leavitt's personality on the team's culture. I think they went out and addressed the pitching concerns the best they could this offseason....blue chip P5 pitchers are not hammering down the door to come to MN to play.
I don't want to argue. Mainly I have questions. First, Dueck said she quit because of bad knees. Is it likely her knee problem first popped up in fallball & wasn't an issue before? Hostettler had problems with command. Were those troubles not known about in advance? As I recall, Pease's offseason surgery was announced ahead of time. Wasn't that a sign of caution? I know nothing about the "trainwreck of personality." But don't programs check out recruits' mindset before offering them scholarships? Are we to believe there were no advance warning signs? As for blue chip P5 pitchers, they may not hammer down the door at MN, but they can be convinced to come. Groenewegen and Fiser were. 2022 felt demoralizing. Does 2023 look better in the circle?
 

ClassOf98Gopher

Well-known member
Joined
Feb 19, 2020
Messages
847
Reaction score
479
Points
63
I don't want to argue. Mainly I have questions. First, Dueck said she quit because of bad knees. Is it likely her knee problem first popped up in fallball & wasn't an issue before? Hostettler had problems with command. Were those troubles not known about in advance? As I recall, Pease's offseason surgery was announced ahead of time. Wasn't that a sign of caution? I know nothing about the "trainwreck of personality." But don't programs check out recruits' mindset before offering them scholarships? Are we to believe there were no advance warning signs? As for blue chip P5 pitchers, they may not hammer down the door at MN, but they can be convinced to come. Groenewegen and Fiser were. 2022 felt demoralizing. Does 2023 look better in the circle?
Why is it that I believe Groenewagen and Fiser were not quite the same? It seems to me that Fiser was on a lot of college programs’ radar while Groenewagen was a true diamond in the rough that everyone missed except Minnesota. Is that true?

As for Leavitt, I don’t know her personality backstory at all, but she was really good in her high school years and Minnesota just had to take a chance on her. We just had too.

Finally, for me as a fan, I held strong for quite a while and had not yet been demoralized at all between their rise in 2014 through the 2022 season. But this Kinch transfer flipped the switch. I am now demoralized.
 




Top Bottom