March 9, 2012
The University of Minnesota softball team found a way to grind out an extra inning game one win over Western Kentucky before hitting a skid in game two against Providence at the Embassy Suites Classic hosted by Flordia Atlantic University. The Gophers move to 15-5 on the season with the first-day split.
Game 1: Minnesota 1, Western Kentucky 0 (9 innings)
In game one, the Gophers played its first extra-inning contest of the season against Western Kentucky (16-5). Things remained scoreless in the pitchers dual until extra innings.
In the top of the ninth, by way of the international tie-break rule, freshman Erika Smyth was placed on second to run. Sophomore Bree Blanchette laid down the sacrifice bunt moving Smyth to third for Tyler Walker. With one out, Walker brought in the only run of the game on a swinging bunt accented by a great slide from Smyth to beat the tag.
Heading to the bottom of the ninth Western Kentucky was also granted a runner on second. After moving Shawna Salder to third the Lady Toppers tested the Gopher arms. Preslie Cruce sent a foul ball to left allowing Salder to tag and head for home. Freshman Erica Meyer made the catch and gunned Salder down at the plate saving the Gophers' lead.
Sara Moulton picked up her 12th win on the season while striking out seven and surrendering only four hits.
Game 2: Providence 4, Minnesota 3
The Gophers took first blood against Providence (4-7) in the second inning of game two.
Freshman Madie Eckstrom led things off after being hit by pitch and was pinch run for by Josie Solie. Fellow freshman Hannah Granger kept things going by drawing a walk, allowing Smyth to lay down a sacrifice bunt moving the runners to second and third. Blanchette would record the first RBI on her opposite field groundout to second. The second inning scoring was capped off by Walker who singled, platting Granger.
But the Friars would reply in the top of the third collecting four runs of their own to take the 4-2 lead.
Quick to rally, junior Kari Dorle punched a two-out single up the middle in the bottom of the same inning. Fellow junior Alex Davis stepped in and sent her first triple of the year to the right field fence bringing Dorle around to score.
Senior Alissa Koch retired twelve of the next thirteen batters she faced after the third inning but the Gopher offense couldn't grind out another run dropping game two, 4-3.
Koch suffered the loss in the game falling to 3-2 on the season. She struck out five and allowed four hits on the day.
The Gophers return to action tomorrow for two more games versus Bethune-Cookman at noon and tournament host, Florida Atlantic at 7 p.m.