U softball player Macken has made a name for herself with key hits

  • Article by: JASON GONZALEZ , Star Tribune
  • Updated: May 24, 2014 - 6:32 AM

Sam Macken celebrated a second night of heroics with dry humor. The freshman’s clutch hitting, first displayed in the Gophers’ Big Ten championship game, had led to another Gophers postseason victory last Saturday, and she reminded her teammates of it in the locker room.

“[Macken] walked in and said ‘There’s something about me and ending games,’ ” junior Tyler Walker recalled.

Walker and junior Kaitlyn Richardson were amused before telling the Rochester native to pipe down.

The next day Macken did it again.

She hit a three-run home run in the bottom of the sixth inning of last Sunday’s second NCAA regional championship game, putting the Gophers up 8-6 and propelling them to their first-ever Super Regional appearance.

The No. 16-seeded Gophers open a best-of-three series against No. 1 seed and heavily favored Oregon on Saturday night in Eugene. The winner advances to the Women’s College World Series.

“She hits [a game-winner] again, so we have no choice but to agree with her,” Walker said. “She’s so confident in herself, it’s actually inspiring. And she’s so funny; she doesn’t know half of the things she says. She’s been so big for us when it gets tough, though. A lot of our friends are now calling her Sammy ‘Clutch’ Macken, so she’s got a little nickname.”

The nickname came into play after the Big Ten championship game. Gophers coach Jessica Allister said the game film showed Macken, a huge smile on her face, strolling to the plate with two outs in the bottom of the seventh inning, with a runner on base and score tied against top-seeded Michigan.

The count went to one ball and two strikes before the lefthanded hitter singled to the right side for a title-winning walk-off hit. Her first base hit of the weekend claimed the Gophers’ first Big Ten title since 1999.

A week later in the regional semifinals against North Dakota State, Macken sparked a three-run 10th inning with a leadoff double and eventually scored what would be the winning run.

Then on Sunday, her home run finished a comeback against Auburn before a home crowd at Jane Sage Cowles Stadium.

“This is kind of a new thing, actually. [Clutch hits] never really happened for me in high school,” Macken said. “I wouldn’t say there’s any nerves. It’s just another at-bat, one pitch at a time, and it just happens to be in clutch situations. … It felt good. I didn’t think it would happen again, but it did. It’s exciting to see that it came down to that again.”

The more Allister is around Macken, the more the coach senses the freshman enjoys pressure situations. Most players would think too much and overwhelm themselves with the game on the line, Allister said.

Another underclassman who has excelled in challenging situations is lefthanded pitcher Nikki Anderson. She finished off Sunday’s regional championship game with 3⅔ scoreless innings, four strikeouts and no walks after taking over the game trailing 6-2.

Macken called Anderson the Gophers’ secret weapon. Walker refers to her as the ace in their back pocket.

Anderson shut down Auburn’s offense after it knocked around the Gophers’ top two pitchers.

The role players’ success has been important in the Gophers’ postseason run, Allister said.

“When you look at great teams, we talk about how everybody has to contribute and there is going to be a moment when the team needs everybody, and I think Sunday epitomized that,” Allister said. “These are two players that have played huge roles for us but aren’t always the people whose names are in the headlines, and they shone in the moments given to them.”

  • related content

  • NCAA softball Super Regional details

    Friday May 23, 2014

    NCAA Super regionalgophers vs. oregonBest-of-three series in Eugene, Ore.Game 1: 9 p.m. Saturday, ESPN2Game 2: 4 p.m. Sunday, ESPNGame 3:...

  • Chart: U's Macken turning it on

    Friday May 23, 2014

    TURNING IT ONGophers freshman Sam Macken has picked up her power numbers lately:HR RBI SLGFirst 36 games 2 3 .414Past five games 2 8 .667

  • Sam Macken of Rochester, Minn., has shown she can play in big games, with her success at the plate in the Big Ten softball tournament and NCAA regionals.

  • Sam Macken.

  • get related content delivered to your inbox

  • manage my email subscriptions

ADVERTISEMENT

Los Angeles 7 Top 8th Inning
Chicago Cubs 6
Detroit 3 Bottom 9th Inning
Kansas City 2
Philadelphia 0 Top 1st Inning
Oakland 0
Toronto 1 Top 1st Inning
NY Yankees 0
Arizona 0 Top 1st Inning
Colorado 0
Boston - R. De La Rosa 6:05 PM
Baltimore - C. Tillman
Milwaukee - M. Garza 6:05 PM
Pittsburgh - E. Volquez
Washington - J. Zimmermann 6:10 PM
Miami - J. Cosart
NY Mets - J. Niese 6:10 PM
Atlanta - M. Minor
Chicago WSox - H. Noesi 6:10 PM
Tampa Bay - C. Archer
Cleveland - T. House 6:10 PM
Minnesota - T. May
Seattle - C. Young 6:10 PM
Houston - D. Keuchel
Cincinnati - M. Leake 6:15 PM
St. Louis - M. Wacha
San Francisco - Y. Petit 7:40 PM
San Diego - A. Cashner
Texas - C. Lewis 8:05 PM
LA Angels - J. Weaver
San Diego 9/21/14 12:00 PM
Buffalo
Dallas 9/21/14 12:00 PM
St. Louis
Washington 9/21/14 12:00 PM
Philadelphia
Houston 9/21/14 12:00 PM
NY Giants
Minnesota 9/21/14 12:00 PM
New Orleans
Tennessee 9/21/14 12:00 PM
Cincinnati
Baltimore 9/21/14 12:00 PM
Cleveland
Green Bay 9/21/14 12:00 PM
Detroit
Indianapolis 9/21/14 12:00 PM
Jacksonville
Oakland 9/21/14 12:00 PM
New England
San Francisco 9/21/14 3:05 PM
Arizona
Denver 9/21/14 3:25 PM
Seattle
Kansas City 9/21/14 3:25 PM
Miami
Pittsburgh 9/21/14 7:30 PM
Carolina
Chicago 9/22/14 7:30 PM
NY Jets
NY Giants 9/25/14 7:25 PM
Washington
Connecticut 14 FINAL
So Florida 17
Old Dominion 45 FINAL
Rice 42
Troy 0 FINAL 0:00
(13) Georgia 66
Georgia Tech 27 FINAL
Virginia Tech 24
Eastern Mich 14 FINAL
(11) Michigan State 73
Iowa 24 FINAL
Pittsburgh 20
Bowling Green 17 FINAL
(19) Wisconsin 68
Maryland 34 FINAL
Syracuse 20
Tulane 13 FINAL
Duke 47
Hawaii 9 3rd Qtr 8:26
Colorado 21
Marshall 31 3rd Qtr 13:54
Akron 3
Louisville 0 Delayed 15:00
FIU 0
North Carolina 13 1st Qtr 4:40
East Carolina 7
Army 7 1st Qtr 0:49
Wake Forest 7
Virginia 7 2nd Qtr
(21) BYU 3
(6) Texas A&M 10 1st Qtr 2:49
SMU 0
Rutgers 7 1st Qtr 2:56
Navy 7
Central Mich 0 1st Qtr 1:17
Kansas 7
Utah 3 2nd Qtr
Michigan 3
Florida 14 1st Qtr 9:20
(3) Alabama 7
Fla Atlantic 0 1st Qtr 12:05
Wyoming 0
Indiana 0 1st Qtr 9:03
(18) Missouri 0
San Jose St 0 1st Qtr 9:45
Minnesota 3
Texas State 0 1st Qtr 13:08
Illinois 6
Massachusetts 0 1st Qtr 10:11
Penn State 0
Georgia State 5:00 PM
Washington
Appalachian St 6:00 PM
Southern Miss
Miss State 6:00 PM
(8) LSU
Northern Ill 6:00 PM
Arkansas
Middle Tennessee 6:00 PM
Memphis
Utah State 6:00 PM
Arkansas State
Miami-Ohio 6:00 PM
Cincinnati
Idaho 6:00 PM
Ohio U
Ball State 6:00 PM
Toledo
(14) So Carolina 6:30 PM
Vanderbilt
(4) Oklahoma 6:30 PM
West Virginia
Ga Southern 6:30 PM
South Alabama
UNLV 7:00 PM
Houston
(22) Clemson 7:00 PM
(1) Florida State
Miami-Florida 7:00 PM
(24) Nebraska
New Mexico 7:00 PM
New Mexico St
California 9:00 PM
Arizona
Louisiana 9:30 PM
Boise State
(2) Oregon 9:30 PM
Washington St
San Diego St 9:30 PM
Oregon State
Texas Tech 9/25/14 6:30 PM
(25) Oklahoma State
Appalachian St 9/25/14 6:30 PM
Ga Southern
(12) UCLA 9/25/14 9:00 PM
(15) Arizona State
Middle Tennessee 9/26/14 7:00 PM
Old Dominion
Fresno State 9/26/14 7:00 PM
New Mexico
(1) Florida State 9/27/14 2:00 AM
NC State
Duke 9/27/14 2:00 AM
Miami-Florida
North Carolina 9/27/14 2:00 AM
(22) Clemson
Texas-El Paso 9/27/14 11:00 AM
(20) Kansas State
Tennessee 9/27/14 11:00 AM
(13) Georgia
Vanderbilt 9/27/14 11:00 AM
Kentucky
Wyoming 9/27/14 11:00 AM
(11) Michigan State
Northwestern 9/27/14 11:00 AM
Penn State
TCU 9/27/14 11:00 AM
SMU
Iowa 9/27/14 11:00 AM
Purdue
Tulane 9/27/14 11:00 AM
Rutgers
So Florida 9/27/14 11:00 AM
(19) Wisconsin
Colorado State 9/27/14 11:30 AM
Boston College
Western Mich 9/27/14 11:30 AM
Virginia Tech
Maryland 9/27/14 12:30 PM
Indiana
Akron 9/27/14 12:30 PM
Pittsburgh
Bowling Green 9/27/14 2:00 PM
Massachusetts
Arkansas 9/27/14 2:30 PM
(6) Texas A&M
Kent State 9/27/14 2:30 PM
Virginia
Western Ky 9/27/14 2:30 PM
Navy
Minnesota 9/27/14 2:30 PM
Michigan
Wake Forest 9/27/14 2:30 PM
Louisville
FIU 9/27/14 2:30 PM
UAB
Miami-Ohio 9/27/14 2:30 PM
Buffalo
Colorado 9/27/14 3:00 PM
California
Louisiana Tech 9/27/14 3:00 PM
(5) Auburn
Texas 9/27/14 3:00 PM
Kansas
Temple 9/27/14 3:00 PM
Connecticut
(16) Stanford 9/27/14 3:15 PM
Washington
TX-San Antonio 9/27/14 4:00 PM
Fla Atlantic
South Alabama 9/27/14 4:00 PM
Idaho
Cincinnati 9/27/14 5:00 PM
(23) Ohio State
Rice 9/27/14 6:00 PM
Southern Miss
(18) Missouri 9/27/14 6:00 PM
(14) So Carolina
Boise State 9/27/14 6:00 PM
Air Force
Central Mich 9/27/14 6:00 PM
Toledo
Troy 9/27/14 6:00 PM
ULM
New Mexico St 9/27/14 6:30 PM
(8) LSU
Memphis 9/27/14 6:30 PM
(10) Ole Miss
Texas State 9/27/14 7:00 PM
Tulsa
Washington St 9/27/14 7:00 PM
Utah
(9) Notre Dame 9/27/14 7:00 PM
Syracuse
(7) Baylor 9/27/14 7:00 PM
Iowa State
UNLV 9/27/14 7:00 PM
San Diego St
Illinois 9/27/14 8:00 PM
(24) Nebraska
Oregon State 9/27/14 9:30 PM
(17) USC
Nevada 9/27/14 9:30 PM
San Jose St
Vancouver FC 4:00 PM
Portland
Houston 6:00 PM
Philadelphia
New England 6:30 PM
Columbus
San Jose 6:30 PM
Montreal
Seattle 6:30 PM
Red Bull New York
D.C. 7:30 PM
Chicago
FC Dallas 9:30 PM
Los Angeles
Toronto 40 FINAL
Brt Columbia 23
Edmonton 6:00 PM
Hamilton
Calgary 9/21/14 12:00 PM
Montreal
Ottawa 9/21/14 3:00 PM
Saskatchewan
Montreal 9/26/14 6:00 PM
Ottawa
Saskatchewan 9/26/14 9:00 PM
Edmonton
Hamilton 9/27/14 5:30 PM
Winnipeg
Brt Columbia 9/27/14 8:30 PM
Calgary

ADVERTISEMENT

Advertisement
Golden Gavel by Star Tribune

Countdown to great deals

Bid Sept. 21-29

ADVERTISEMENT

ADVERTISEMENT

ADVERTISEMENT

question of the day

Poll: How will the Vikings and Gophers do this weekend?

Weekly Question

ADVERTISEMENT

Connect with twitterConnect with facebookConnect with Google+Connect with PinterestConnect with PinterestConnect with RssfeedConnect with email newsletters

ADVERTISEMENT

 
Close