Two of the hottest Big Ten softball teams will meet this weekend when the No. 6 Gophers (28-2, 3-0) open a series at Illinois (22-8, 3-0) at 5 p.m. Friday. Minnesota has won seven games in a row, Illinois nine.
They are two of the five teams tied for first place in the conference. Last year the Gophers swept the Illini at Jane Sage Cowles Stadium, outscoring the visitors 25-7 in three games.
Gophers baseball at Michigan State
The Gophers baseball team (15-8, 3-0 Big Ten) plays at Michigan State (15-6, 3-0) at 2 p.m. Friday in the opener of a three-game series. Minnesota, which swept Ohio State last weekend, has a .284 team batting average, led by Jordan Kozicky (.400) and Luke Pettersen (.397), and a 4.11 staff ERA. Lucas Gilbreath is 2.0 with a 2.73 ERA, best among the starters.
• North Dakota defenseman Tucker Poolman, a junior from East Grand Forks, Minn., signed a one-year, entry-level contract with the NHL’s Winnipeg Jets. He had 20 goals and 52 assists in 118 college games and was recently named defensive defenseman of the year in the NCHC.
• Gophers senior forward Taylor Cammarata signed an amateur tryout agreement with the Bridgeport Sound Tigers in the AHL. The Tigers are an affiliate of the New York Islanders, who drafted Cammarata in the third round of the 2013 NHL draft. The Plymouth native had 25 goals and 68 assists in 149 career games with Minnesota.
• The Minnesota State Mankato men’s and women’s outdoor track and field teams — both defending champions — were picked to win NSIC titles again in the preseason coaches’ polls.