Gophers' pitcher Windle expected to see even better days ahead

The Gophers’ Tom Windle became one of the Big Ten’s best pitchers while saddened by the death of a friend. His coach, John Anderson, is convinced he’ll continue to improve as a pro.

hide

Gophers pitcher Tom Windle.

Photo: Eric Miller, University of Minnesota

CameraStar Tribune photo galleries

Cameraview larger

John Anderson has a theory that pitchers from Minnesota don’t fully bloom until they’re 25 or 26. He saw it happen with Twins pitchers Glen Perkins and Cole De Vries, after they pitched for Anderson with the Gophers, and he expects the same for Tom Windle.

That’s saying something for the junior lefthander. He’s pretty advanced already.

The 21-year-old tossed a no-hitter in March and rattled off four consecutive complete games, becoming a probable top-50 pick in June’s major league draft.

Windle has been less dominant of late, having been thrown for a loop by the weather and the death of a close friend in a drowning accident. But the Gophers confidently will start the first-team All-Big Ten pick at noon Wednesday against Illinois in the conference tournament opener at Target Field.

“He’s gotten better each day he’s been in the program,” Anderson said. “And I think his best pitching days are still out there a ways.”

Windle and his twin brother, Sam, were hockey and baseball standouts at Osseo High School. They were born to Craig and Susan Windle eight weeks premature in 1992, weighing less than 5 pounds apiece. Neither parent stands taller than 5-7, but their two boys grew to be 6-4.

“God works in mysterious ways,” Craig said.

Sam plays hockey at Bemidji State. Tom knew baseball was his ticket, even though one of his hockey highlights was a six-goal varsity game. When they were first-year hockey bantams, Sam made the A-team but Tom missed the cut, settling for a spot on the B1-team. Craig Windle saw that as a defining moment for Tom, who hasn’t stopped pushing himself since.

“At the time, it was probably the most devastating thing in the world,” Tom Windle said. “And I’m sure something clicked and made me change a little bit and move forward.”

Sam was a righthanded pitcher with decent talent, but Tom stood out to Minnesota’s coaching staff as a lefthander.

The White Sox made Windle a 28th-round pick out of high school, but he opted to join the Gophers. He pitched primarily out of the bullpen his first two years at Minnesota, making a big impact at the 2011 Big Ten tournament.

The Gophers lost their first game that year, falling into the loser’s bracket — where they won two games in one day. Windle saved the first one against Ohio State and won the second one with five scoreless innings against Purdue.

Last year the Gophers tried making Windle a starter, but a shoulder injury limited his workload. He went to the Cape Cod League, where top college players often play summer ball, and posted a 2.34 ERA as a starter.

That success carried over to this season. Windle is 6-4 with a 2.05 ERA. His March 8 no-hitter against Western Illinois was the Gophers’ first nine-inning no-no since 1931. He followed that with three more complete games.

“The impressive thing about that stretch was that he was on a pitch count on all of those and still got it done,” Gophers pitching coach Todd Oakes said. “I think he’s learned how to get hitters out with [fewer] pitches.”

The weather halted Windle’s complete-game streak. He had a two-hit shutout going through five innings against Ohio State, in the Siebert Field opener, before the game was suspended by snow.

Two weeks later, weather wiped out an entire weekend home series against Michigan State, giving Windle 13 days between starts.

He gave up six runs on April 26 at Iowa. The next day, Sam called with terrible news: Andrew Pitts, one of their closest childhood friends, had fallen through the ice on a pond in Maple Grove and drowned.

  • get related content delivered to your inbox

  • manage my email subscriptions

ADVERTISEMENT

Oakland - J. Lester 7:07 PM
Kansas City - J. Shields
Minnesota 10/2/14 7:25 PM
Green Bay
Buffalo 10/5/14 12:00 PM
Detroit
Chicago 10/5/14 12:00 PM
Carolina
Cleveland 10/5/14 12:00 PM
Tennessee
St. Louis 10/5/14 12:00 PM
Philadelphia
Atlanta 10/5/14 12:00 PM
NY Giants
Tampa Bay 10/5/14 12:00 PM
New Orleans
Houston 10/5/14 12:00 PM
Dallas
Baltimore 10/5/14 12:00 PM
Indianapolis
Pittsburgh 10/5/14 12:00 PM
Jacksonville
Arizona 10/5/14 3:05 PM
Denver
Kansas City 10/5/14 3:25 PM
San Francisco
NY Jets 10/5/14 3:25 PM
San Diego
Cincinnati 10/5/14 7:30 PM
New England
Seattle 10/6/14 7:30 PM
Washington
NY Islanders 6:00 PM
Boston
NY Rangers 6:00 PM
Philadelphia
Ottawa 7:00 PM
Winnipeg
Carolina 7:00 PM
St. Louis
Tampa Bay 7:30 PM
Dallas
Colorado 8:00 PM
Calgary
Los Angeles 9:30 PM
San Jose
Fla Atlantic 10/2/14 6:00 PM
FIU
UCF 10/2/14 6:00 PM
Houston
Arizona 10/2/14 9:30 PM
(2) Oregon
Louisville 10/3/14 6:00 PM
Syracuse
San Diego St 10/3/14 9:00 PM
Fresno State
Utah State 10/3/14 9:15 PM
(18) BYU
(6) Texas A&M 10/4/14 11:00 AM
(12) Miss State
Ball State 10/4/14 11:00 AM
Army
Iowa State 10/4/14 11:00 AM
(21) Oklahoma State
Marshall 10/4/14 11:00 AM
Old Dominion
Southern Miss 10/4/14 11:00 AM
Middle Tennessee
(20) Ohio State 10/4/14 11:00 AM
Maryland
Purdue 10/4/14 11:00 AM
Illinois
Florida 10/4/14 11:00 AM
Tennessee
SMU 10/4/14 11:00 AM
(22) East Carolina
Virginia Tech 10/4/14 11:30 AM
North Carolina
Eastern Mich 10/4/14 1:00 PM
Akron
North Texas 10/4/14 1:30 PM
Indiana
Massachusetts 10/4/14 1:30 PM
Miami-Ohio
Tulsa 10/4/14 2:00 PM
Colorado State
New Mexico 10/4/14 2:30 PM
TX-San Antonio
(3) Alabama 10/4/14 2:30 PM
(11) Ole Miss
(14) Stanford 10/4/14 2:30 PM
(9) Notre Dame
(17) Wisconsin 10/4/14 2:30 PM
Northwestern
Navy 10/4/14 2:30 PM
Air Force
(7) Baylor 10/4/14 2:30 PM
Texas
(4) Oklahoma 10/4/14 2:30 PM
(25) TCU
Wake Forest 10/4/14 2:30 PM
(1) Florida State
NC State 10/4/14 2:30 PM
Clemson
Buffalo 10/4/14 2:30 PM
Bowling Green
Ohio U 10/4/14 2:30 PM
Central Mich
Oregon State 10/4/14 3:00 PM
Colorado
Vanderbilt 10/4/14 3:00 PM
(13) Georgia
Kansas 10/4/14 3:00 PM
West Virginia
Kent State 10/4/14 4:00 PM
Northern Ill
South Alabama 10/4/14 5:00 PM
Appalachian St
Texas-El Paso 10/4/14 6:00 PM
Louisiana Tech
(15) LSU 10/4/14 6:00 PM
(5) Auburn
UAB 10/4/14 6:00 PM
Western Ky
Texas Tech 10/4/14 6:00 PM
(23) Kansas State
Michigan 10/4/14 6:00 PM
Rutgers
Hawaii 10/4/14 6:00 PM
Rice
Toledo 10/4/14 6:00 PM
Western Mich
ULM 10/4/14 6:00 PM
Arkansas State
Georgia State 10/4/14 6:00 PM
Louisiana
Idaho 10/4/14 6:00 PM
Texas State
Memphis 10/4/14 6:00 PM
Cincinnati
Arizona State 10/4/14 6:30 PM
(16) USC
So Carolina 10/4/14 6:30 PM
Kentucky
Pittsburgh 10/4/14 6:30 PM
Virginia
Miami-Florida 10/4/14 6:30 PM
Georgia Tech
(19) Nebraska 10/4/14 7:00 PM
(10) Michigan State
UNLV 10/4/14 7:00 PM
San Jose St
Ga Southern 10/4/14 7:00 PM
New Mexico St
California 10/4/14 9:30 PM
Washington St
Utah 10/4/14 9:30 PM
(8) UCLA
Boise State 10/4/14 9:30 PM
Nevada
Winnipeg 10/3/14 6:00 PM
Ottawa
Calgary 10/3/14 9:00 PM
Saskatchewan
Edmonton 10/4/14 3:00 PM
Toronto
Brt Columbia 10/4/14 6:00 PM
Hamilton
Connect with twitterConnect with facebookConnect with Google+Connect with PinterestConnect with PinterestConnect with RssfeedConnect with email newsletters

ADVERTISEMENT

Date/Opponent Time W L Score
2014 season     
Aug 28 - vs. E. Illinois 6 pmX42-20
Sep 6 - vs. M. Tennessee St. 2:30 pmX35-24
Sep 13 - at TCU 3 pmX30-7
Sep 20 - vs. San Jose St. 3 p.m.X24-7
Sep 27 - at Michigan 2:30 pm30-14
Oct 11 - vs. Northwestern 11 am
Oct 18 - vs. Purdue 11 am
Oct 25 - at Illinois 11 am
Nov 8 - vs. Iowa TBA
Nov 15 - vs. Ohio State TBA
Nov 22 - at Nebraska TBA
Nov 29 - at Wisconsin TBA

ADVERTISEMENT

ADVERTISEMENT

ADVERTISEMENT

question of the day

Poll: How will the Gophers do against Michigan?

Weekly Question

ADVERTISEMENT

 
Close