Feb. 18, 2012
The University of Minnesota softball team pulled a split on Saturday night at the Littlewood Classic. The Gophers (6-2) shutdown a red-hot Illinois State (6-2) squad to win 9-0 in five innings. The Maroon and Gold turned around to face defending National Champion and No. 5-ranked Arizona State (8-2), which ended exactly opposite as the ISU game. The Sun Devils shutout the Gophers and recorded a 12-0 victory in six innings.
Game 1: Minnesota 9, Illinois State 0 (5 innings)
A pair of Kaitlyn Richardson homeruns guide the Gophers to their fifth shutout victory of the season in a 9-0 triumph over Illinois State. The freshman from Phoenix, Ariz. led Minnesota offensively with recording two bombs while sophomore pitcher Sara Moulton shutdown the Redbirds by only allowing two hits.
Richardson got the Maroon and Gold on the board in the bottom of the first with a solo shot over the left field wall. She would add another in the bottom of the fourth as she looped a three-run homer around the foul pole in left field. The third baseman went 2-for-2 on the day with four RBI.
Minnesota would open up the game in the third inning when they took advantage of three ISU errors to increase their lead to 4-0.
Bree Blanchette would reach first after the Redbird shortstop misfielded a ground ball. Tyler Walker would step in the box next and move Blanchette to third with a single up the middle. Erica Meyer stepped up next and laid down a sacrifice bunt but would end up reaching base safely thanks to ISU's pitcher launching the ball over the first baseman's head. The errant throw would roll to the right field fence, and Meyer would advance to third while Blanchette and Walker scored. Meyer would score by tagging up on a foul fly out by Dorle down the third baseline, making the score 4-0.
The Gophers had a total of six hits in the game with them all coming from the freshman class: Walker 2-for-2, Richardson 2-for-2, Eckstrom 1-for-2 and Smyth 1-for-2.
The Gopher bats would come alive in the fourth as they would record a leadoff out but would have the next five batters reach base safely. Freshman Madie Eckstrom led the string of base runners by tallying her first career homerun with one out in the inning. Freshman Erika Smyth would single to reach base, Blanchette reached on another fielding error and Walker would single Smyth in for another run. It was at that point, with Blanchette and Walker on base, that Richardson hit her second homerun of the game to bring in three runs.
Minnesota would go three up, three down in the top of the fifth to end the game, 9-0.
Moulton pitched all five innings to garner the win. The Eagan, Minn. native fanned five batters while only allowing two hits and walking a pair of batters.
Game 2: No. 5 Arizona State 12, Minnesota 0 (6 innings)
In front of a crowd of 1,267 fans, the Gophers got shutout by the defending National Champions, No. 5 Arizona State. Minnesota tallied a total of three hits in the game while ASU had nine.
Minnesota switched things up against the highly skilled Sun Devils as senior Alissa Koch started the game in hopes of shutting down a potent offense. Koch wasn't the answer, as she went three innings and allowed seven runs off of four hits.
Arizona State would jump on the Gophers early as they scored two runs in both the first and the second and then adding three more in the third. Those seven runs were scored on only four combined hits.
The Maroon and Gold halted the Sun Devil offense for a pair of innings when freshman pitcher Kelsey Kimminau faced eight total batters in the two innings and allowed no hits or runs.
Things would quickly change in the sixth when ASU exploded for five runs on five hits with two of them being homeruns.
Richardson and Smyth were the lone Gophers to fair well at the plate in the game. Richardson went 2-for-3 while Smyth went 1-for-2.
Minnesota caps off its time at the Littlewood Classic tomorrow morning as they face Iowa State at 10 p.m. CST. The Gophers defeated the Cyclones two days ago in the opening game of the tournament, 9-1.