Feb. 16, 2014
LAS VEGAS - The Minnesota softball team lost for the first time in its 2014 campaign Sunday morning, dropping a 15-2 contest against top-ranked Florida on the last day of play at the Easton Desert Classic in Las Vegas, Nev. After tying a program record with eight wins to begin the season, the Gophers fell to 8-1 on the year, while the Gators improved to 11-0 with the victory.
After two scoreless innings to start the game, Florida got on the board with four runs in the top of the third frame.
Kirsti Merritt got UF on the board by speeding home from second base on a sacrifice bunt by Kelsey Stewart. The Gators added three more runs before the inning, two of them coming on an RBI single.
Sydney Fabian got the Gophers' first hit in the bottom of the inning, but Minnesota could not produce any more baserunners and trailed 4-0 after three.
Freshman Sara Groenewegen came into the game to start the fourth inning to replace starter Sara Moulton. Florida loaded the bases and Groenewegen recorded two straight outs, but Taylor Schwarz brought all three runners home with a double to center to make it 7-0.
The Gophers got on the board in the bottom of the inning when Kaitlyn Richardson and Bree Blanchette got on base and moved recorded steals to get into scoring position. Hannah Melick plated Richardson with a single and Kayla Wenner got Blanchette home on a fielder's choice.
The fifth frame came and went without any runs, but the Gators bats came back to life in the sixth as Florida pulled away with an eight-run inning that included two two-run home runs. The game ended after Minnesota was shut out in the bottom of the sixth.
Moulton was dealt her first loss of the season as she fell to 5-1.
Minnesota picks up play with its first of two trips to the East Coast for the UNC-Greensboro Spartan Classic Feb. 21-23. The Gophers will begin play in North Carolina against George Washington before facing the host Spartans twice along with Army and Hampton, both of which made the NCAA Tournament last year.
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