For the past nine years, the Michigan softball team has won at least a share of the Big Ten Championship.

But this season, that crown will head to No. 4 Minnesota, which has dominated the conference with a 21-1 record.

The Gophers clinched the Big Ten’s regular season championship with a 14-1 drubbing of Penn State Saturday — their 21st consecutive victory.

The conference  — much to the disappointment of Michigan coach Carol Hutchins — yet again neglected to schedule a series between Minnesota and the Wolverines this year.

The two programs’ last matchup came in the 2016 Big Ten Tournament championship game, which Minnesota won, 4-3.

The 19th-ranked Wolverines will enter this season’s conference tournament, which is being held at Alumni Field next weekend, as the No. 2 seed.

But Michigan should carry strong momentum into the postseason, having won its last eight games by a combined 59 runs. A benching of seven starters April 22 at Wisconsin has proven to be a successful wakeup call for the team, as the traditional starters have returned to the lineup with hot bats.

The Wolverines close their regular season Sunday at Rutgers.


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