The #21 Minnesota Golden Gophers softball team will complete regular season play this weekend when it hosts the Penn State Nittany Lions. The second place Gophers are just one game back of the first place Michigan Wolverines and could potentially tie or win outright the Big Ten regular season championship with some help from the Ohio State Buckeyes.
The Gophers come into the weekend with a 14-game winning streak overall and a 30-game home winning streak at Jane Sage Cowles Stadium. Minnesota has a 15-3 Big Ten record and sits in second place, while the Nittany Lions are just 4-16 in Big Ten play and sit in 13th place.
The Gophers will look to continue to play off of the strength of their ace Amber Fiser. Fiserhas won the Big Ten Pitcher of the Week Award the last three weeks and was named the Louisville Slugger/NFCA Division I National Pitcher of the Week last week for going 4-0 and throwing a perfect game against the Purdue Boilermakers. She has allowed just two earned runs in her last 52.1 innings of work.
The Gophers are fairing just as well on the offensive side of the ball. During their 14-game winning streak, Minnesota has recorded 18 home runs, 20 doubles, three triples and 88 singles, Minnesota has outscored its opponents 101-9 during the streak. Sophomore catcher Kendyl Lindaman is in the middle of a 24-game on base streak. She has 18 home runs on the season to lead the Big Ten.
The Nittany Lions will come in on a bit of a winning note. They defeated the Illinois in their last game to snap a 11-game losing streak. But they should not be a hard foe for the Gophers. Minnesota should easily get a three game sweep.
If the Gophers can sweep the Nittany Lions, the pressure will fall to the Michigan Wolverines. Michigan sits at 16-2 in the Big Ten, one game ahead of the Gophers. They will host fourth place Ohio State this weekend for a three game series in Ann Arbor. With the assumption of a Gopher sweep, one win by the Buckeyes will result in the Gophers and Wolverines sharing the Big Ten regular season crown. A pair of Buckeye wins, and the Gophers can win the Big Ten outright. In either fashion, it would be the first time in program history that Minnesota would win back to back regular season Big Ten titles.
With a sweep the Gophers will clinch a top-two seed and a first round bye in the Big Ten Tournament that will take place in Madison next weekend.
Gophers fans will be able to watch both Minnesota and Michigan play in their season finales on TV on Sunday. Minnesota’s games on Friday at 6 and Saturday at 1 will both air on BTN+, while Sunday’s finale will air at 1 on ESPNU. The Wolverines and Buckeyes will play Friday at 5 on BTN+, Saturday at Noon on BTN, and Sunday at 5 on BTN.