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Continued: Gophers' pitcher Windle expected to see even better days ahead

Windle said Pitts was “the type of kid that would always call or text me with congratulations after a game, like after the no-hitter.”

Windle has visited Pitts’ family twice, including May 12, on what would have been Andrew’s 21st birthday.

“I’ll be thinking about him probably every day for a while,” Windle said. “And I know he’s watching over me.”

After two strong outings against Penn State and Nebraska, Windle wasn’t as sharp in a loss against Illinois last Thursday, giving up four earned runs over six innings. Wednesday, he gets a rematch with the Illini in what could be his final start for the Gophers.

Lefthanders always are in high demand in the draft, and Windle has several impressive tools, including a wipeout slider and a fastball that sits between 90-94 miles per hour. To start in the big leagues, Windle probably will need to master a third pitch. His changeup is a work in progress.

“He’s just starting to understand how to use it,” Anderson said. “I still think it’s going to be a very good pitch for him down the road.”

Baseball America currently ranks Windle as the draft’s 46th-best prospect. Last year’s No. 46 overall pick — pitcher Eddie Butler — received a $1 million signing bonus from the Rockies.

Windle, a sports management major, will have the leverage of being able to return to school for his senior year if he doesn’t like his offer.

“He’s ready to move on to the next level,” Craig Windle said. “But knowing Tom’s makeup, I’d say sometime in the next year-and-a-half, he’ll go back and get his degree.”

First, Windle would like to take the Gophers back to the NCAA tournament. To get there they’ll need an automatic bid, and that means winning the conference tournament.

“The last couple weeks we’ve kind of slowed down,” he said. “We haven’t hit when we’ve pitched well, haven’t pitched when we’ve hit well. We just need to click together again.”

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