Softball: Big Ten time
Update: Sara Groenewegen gave up only one hit and struck out nine as Minnesota defeated Illinois 2-0 Friday afternoon in the Big Ten quarterfinals.
The Gophers (39-12) will play Northwestern at noon Saturday. They took a 1-0 lead in the fourth inning when Kayla Wenner scored on a single by Sydney Fabian. In the sixth, Wenner scored on Sam Macken's RBI single.
Danielle Parlich had three hits for the Gophers; Macken and Wenner had two hits apiece.
The Gophers are the No. 2 seed in the Big Ten tournament this weekend and play No. 7 seed Illinois in the quarterfinals at 1:30 p.m. Friday in State College, Pa. Illinois beat Michigan State 3-2 on Thursday when the Spartans committed two errors in the final inning and allowed the tying and winning runs to score. The Illini bring their good luck up against the red-hot Gophers:
• Minnesota (38-12, 19-3 Big Ten) has won 11 in a row, including a three-game road sweep of Iowa to end the regular season during which it outscored the Hawkeyes 35-5.
• Star Sara Groenewegen, who was named national pitcher of the week earlier this month, finished the regular season with a 27-5 record. She struck out 284 batters this season in 193⅔ innings.
• Sam Macken led the team with a .380 batting average and tied for the team lead with 11 home runs with Maddie Houlihan. Groenewegen hit 10 homers.
• Houlihan was Big Ten freshman of the year.
• The Gophers were the No. 2 seed last year but were upset in the quarterfinals by No. 10 seed Iowa.
Baseball: Hunting a title
The Gophers have six conference games left before the Big Ten baseball tournament.
• They play at Purdue on Friday, Saturday and Sunday, then close out the regular season next weekend at home against Ohio State.
• The top eight teams in the conference qualify for the Big Ten tournament May 25-29 in Omaha.
• The Gophers (30-15) are 12-5 in the Big Ten, tied for second place with Michigan. Indiana (13-5) leads the league; there are two teams tied for fourth at 11-7 and three at 10-8.
• Pitcher-designated hitter Matt Fiedler leads the Gophers with a .404 batting average and is 7-2 with a 3.97 ERA. Catcher Austin Athmann is hitting .393 with a team-high 11 home runs.
• The Gophers are 33rd in the NCAA Division I RPI.