Feb. 15, 2013
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TEMPE, ARIZ. - Freshman first baseman Paige Palkovich collected two hits, including her first career home run, but Minnesota came up short in its first game at the Littlewood Classic, losing to Illinois State by a score of 5-1.
Minnesota (1-4) fell behind early, as the Redbirds (3-3) scored three runs in the bottom of the first inning after leading off with a walk and benefitting from a Minnesota fielding error to load the bases with no outs.
In the bottom of the fourth, Illinois State loaded the bases with one out, and increased its lead to 5-0 on a two-run single to left field by Jhavon Hamilton. The Illinois State offense was once again bolstered by a Minnesota fielding error and a pair of walks, which ended the afternoon for junior pitcher Sara Moulton (1-3).
Sophomore Kelsey Kimminau came on in relief of Moulton, recording a pair of outs to get the Gophers out of the fourth inning, and pitching effectively over her 2.2 innings in the circle.
The Gophers finally got on the board in the top of the fifth, as Palkovich drove a one-out solo home run deep over the wall in left field to cut the Redbirds' lead to 5-1. But ISU's Sophia Perez allowed just one hit while striking out four in relief of Redbirds starter Taylor Baxter (2-1).
In addition to Palkovich's two-hit afternoon, sophomore third baseman Kaitlyn Richardson went 2-for-3 with a double, while freshman left fielder Sydney Fabian was 2-for-2. Kimminau held Illinois State hitless after relieving Moulton, who allowed seven hits and five runs (three earned) in 3.1 innings.
The Gophers and Redbirds will play a second game later tonight, with first pitch scheduled for 8:30 p.m. CT. On Saturday, Minnesota faces another Missouri Valley Conference opponent, Northern Iowa, for a pair of games. First pitch in the opening game with the Panthers is set for 1:45 p.m. CT.
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