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Gophers heading to NCAA Regional!
By Don Bowman
What a turnaround for the Golden Gopher (35-17) fast pitch softball team in 2013! After not qualifying for even the Big Ten Tournament last year, the Gophers will represent the Big Ten in the NCAA Regionals in Washington state beginning May 17.
Finishing a tremendous season, the U of M earned the No. 3 seed in the Big Ten playoffs and advanced to the title game after huge 1-0 win over the Nebraska Cornhuskers – at Nebraska no less. In the finals, however, the Gophers ran out of steam, and lost the title game to Wisconsin, 9-3.
Their NCAA Regional opponents will be the University of Hawaii (43-11), and if they win on Friday, will advance to the regional title game versus either 11th-ranked Washington or Portland State. If they get the pitching, they can advance to the super regionals the following weekend!
From the diamond to the rink
Former area softball player (Wintz Trucking) and hockey star (Hill-Murray) Steve Rohlik has been named the head coach for the Ohio State Unversity Division I men’s hockey team. Ohio State is joining the Golden Gophers in the inagural season of Big Ten hockey play starting this fall. Congrats Steve!
Mosquitoland Classic this weekend
The 2013 Steve Simmons Memorial-Mosquitoland Classic Senior Softball Tournament is slated for May 16-19 at Pioneer Park in Little Canada. Men’s 50s/55s/60s/65s/70s and 80s teams are playing. Stop by and check out the entertainment! Teams participating are from Nebraska, Iowa, Wisconsin, Bemidji plus several metro area ball clubs – many of who are defending national world champions!
Buck named to national team
The USA Men’s National Slow Pitch Team was just named recently and heading the roster lineup is veteran pitcher Geno Buck of Red Wing, Minn! This is Geno’s third appearance with Team USA. Look for the local slugger to have a big share of the pitching duties with this squad. The team will take on Team Canada again in the big “Border Battle” later this summer and also will play some exhibition games against the Team USA ‘Futures’ Club, with dates to be announced soon! Also named to the team were Rick and Bryson Baker, Brett Helmer, Jeff Hall and more.
Spring snow impacts Corky’s
Corky’s Owatonna Earlybird had to be pushed back to May 10-11 after a foot of snow landed on the playing field the week before! Despite tourney numbers dropping drastically for the following weekend, the event turned out to be better than ever, with nearly 75 teams having a blast!
Dudley Classic set for June 21-23
Make sure you mark your calendars correctly for the 2013 Dudley/Budweiser Classic this year. It will be held one week later, on June 21-23! It’s still the best show in softball, and for the first time in a long time, it will not be held on Father’s Day weekend!
Gopher baseball eyes Big Ten Tourney
The Gopher men’s baseball team is also having a sensational year and is a near-lock for the Big Ten Tournament on May 23-26 at Target Field in Minneapolis! This past weekend, the maroon and gold lost two of three to a tough Nebraska Cornhuskers team at Siebert Field, but still are battling for the title, sitting in second place in the Big Ten. Pitching is the big key to their success this season, and they are led by Tom Windle, a possible first-round pick in this year’s Major League Baseball draft.
Bat review contest back again
The 2013 Let’s Play Softball/Baseball Bat Review Contest is slated for next month. Manufacturers are reminded to get their demos in by June 30! For more info, call 651-208-3909.
Expected participants and past champions include: Combat, DeMarini, Easton, Louisville/TPS, Miken, Mizuno, Reebok, Worth and more!
From the inbox
Long-time reader Stud Podassel writes in: “Diamond Don: What’s up with the Twins pitchers not holding runners on at first base, making it tough on throwing out runners?”
Stu, you’re asking me? Why not ask Ron Gardenhire? With 13-14 coaches sitting on their bench, with most of them eating Chinese take out during the game, they ALL seem asleep at the wheel! Gardy likes to blame the 23-year-old kid on the mound who is shaking like a leaf just to be in the majors.
I blame it on Gardy. Someone has to be studying the runners, and come up with a sign to the catcher to be throwing over to first more often! They tried to blame their pitching woes last year on the 75-year-old bullpen coach, but let’s face it, Rich Anderson and Gardy have to be doing a better job!