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Rutgers softball hosts Minnesota in 1st Big Ten series of season

Sophomore shortstop and Big Ten Co-Player of the Week Kyleigh Sand and the Rutgers softball team open up Big Ten play against Minnesota. – Photo by Steve Hockstein /

The Rutgers softball team is getting ready for its first taste of conference play in the 2022 season. The Scarlet Knights (21-10, 0-0) will be hosting Minnesota in their first non-tournament weekend. Minnesota will be Rutgers’ lone opponent this weekend, with three games scheduled for the matchup.

The Knights has had a great season thus far and are only continuing that success. They are on a four-game win streak and have won 6 of their last 7 games. Last weekend was successful as the program hosted the Rutgers Tournament, only falling in one game against Maryland Eastern Shore.

Last weekend, Rutgers saw a pitcher throw a no-hitter for the first time in a decade as junior pitcher Jaden Vickers struck out seven in five innings. She has started out the season well, registering 115 strikeouts in 104 innings of work so far with an earned run average (ERA) less than 2.50.

Sophomore shortstop Kyleigh Sand was named the Big Ten Co-Player of the Week for her performance in the Rutgers Tournament last weekend. Sand picked up 13 hits in six games, including her first career home run. She proved to be a hero for the Knights, with a two-out walk-off hit in an extra-innings battle against Drexel. Sand received the honor alongside Ohio State’s Sam Hackenbracht.

The Golden Gophers (13-11-1, 0-0) are coming into this weekend after having found new offensive power in their recent games. In its spring break schedule, Minnesota had a cumulative .292 batting average including 31 extra-base hits.

The Gophers have had a surge in power hitting, with 32 home runs in just 25 games so far this season. When it comes to pitching, Minnesota is throwing a 4.73 ERA in 162.2 innings and 151 strikeouts compared to Rutgers' 185.

Among the Gophers, Natalie DenHartog leads with a .393 batting average with 33 hits, including 12 home runs. Starting pitchers Autumn Pease and Emily Leavitt will likely be familiar faces on the mound for Minnesota. 

The weekend will open up today at 3 p.m. at the Rutgers Softball Complex on Livingston campus. The games will also be available to watch on Big Ten Network+.

For more updates on the Rutgers softball team, follow @TargumSports on Twitter.

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