SEATTLE, WASH. -- Seattle is a great city, and it's been a nice place for Minnesota's first NCAA Regional appearance since 2003. It's been a fun experience for this team to compete at the Seattle Regional, and the Golden Gophers showed that they can compete with any team at this level.
This regional, as most do, had four teams with great pitchers, and junior right-hander Sara Moulton stood out by striking out 29 batters in three games to run her final season total to 308. A First Team All-Great Lakes Region and First Team All-Big Ten selection this season, Moulton went 32-12 this season, and she gives the Gophers the key ingredient they'll need to make a return to a regional during her senior season in 2014.
Minnesota loses catcher Kari Dorle and first baseman/designated player Alex Davis, and both will be missed. Dorle has been a rock behind the plate for the Gophers, as she started 214 of 216 possible games over the past four years. Davis and Dorle each finish their careers with 23 home runs, and Davis was recently named to the Big Ten's All-Tournament Team.
But the future of this program is bright, as the vast majority of this team's offensive production and all of its pitching returns for next season. The Gophers have combined to hit 101 home runs over the past two years, and Minnesota has won 30-plus games in three consecutive seasons for the first time since 2004, when it ended a nine-year stretch of 30 or more victories per season.
Head coach Jessica Allister has returned the Gophers to the NCAA Tournament after a nine-year absence and has built the foundation of a program that has the potential to have sustained success for several years.
It's tough to put a wrap on such a fun season, but only one team in the NCAA Tournament gets to end its season with a win. This season has truly been a journey. Of Minnesota's 55 games, 49 were played outside of Minneapolis. That's a testament to the strength and resiliency of this program. It doesn't matter where they play, these Gophers are able to focus on the task at hand -- competing hard, giving it their best effort, and more often than not, winning the game.
So long, Seattle.