March 31, 2012
In front of the sixth-largest crowd in Jane Sage Cowles Stadium history, the University of Minnesota softball team garnered two wins over Nebraska in their home opening series. The Golden Gophers (21-9, 3-2 Big Ten) showcased their bats in the two contests by tallying 22 hits on the day to outlast the Huskers (20-14, 3-2 Big Ten).
Game One: Minnesota 13, Nebraska 7
What began in a pitching battle between two of the best pitchers in the Big Ten Conference, ended as a slug fest by a pair of potent offenses. Minnesota would come out on top 13-7 in the high-scoring contest by posting two six-run innings to hold off Nebraska.
The Gophers got on the board first in the third inning when freshman Kaitlyn Richardson belted a towering solo home run over the right center field wall, but Nebraska wasn’t too far behind as they evened the score in the top half of the fourth.
It was in the bottom of the fourth that Minnesota opened the flood gets to pour six runs on the Huskers.
Minnesota would nab three runs to begin the inning as four of the Gophers’ first five batters reached base safely. Erica Meyer would knock in the first run with a single while Hannah Granger brought in the other two with a base hit through the right side of the infield.
The Gophers would then put together a two-out rally to add three more scores to the board. Richardson was a big catalyst as she singled in Tyler Walker and Dannie Skrove. The Phoenix, Ariz. native would reach third on the play, due to a two-base throwing error, and she would score on a wild pitch in the ensuing at bat.
Richardson led the team at the plate b going 4-for-5 with a home run, three RBI and scoring three runs. Her solo home run was her team leading eighth of the season.
The Husker tried to make a comeback in the top of the sixth as they put together s five-run inning, but once the bottom of the sixth came, the Maroon and Gold were back to lengthening their lead with another six-run inning.
The inning led off with Richardson doubling to left field, and she would notch the first run of the inning off a Madie Eckstrom single up the middle. Doubles would continue to be the craze as Meyer doubled to left to score Kari Dorle and Alex Davis.
Meyer ended the game with three hits, three RBI and two runs. Eckstrom joined in on the hit party as she went 2-for-4 at the plate with one RBI.
Nebraska would add another in the top of the seventh, but it was too little, too late as the Gophers claimed a 13-7 victory.
Sara Moulton garnered the win to improve to 15-7 on the season. The sophomore allowed eight hits on the day while fanning six.
Game Two: Minnesota 8, Nebraska 5
The second game began in a different fashion as the Huskers pounced on the Golden Gophers right away by tallying a five-run first inning. But Minnesota would not falter as they held Nebraska scoreless the rest of the game and battled back in the later innings to pull out the triumph.
Despite having a rough beginning to the game, starting pitcher Alissa Koch persevered and held the Huskers scoreless the rest of her time in the circle.
Minnesota would begin the fourth with a pair of strikeouts, but after a pair of hit batters, the Gophers’ two-out rally began when Richardson snuck a three-run home run over the right field wall. The Maroon and Gold continued to battle back into the game as they notched two more runs to tie up the game 5-5 by taking advantage of a pair of Husker errors.
It was in the fifth that another two-out rally was a brewing when Walker doubled to left field. Richardson would step up and get intentionally walked while Davis singled to load the bases for Dorle. The North St. Paul, Minn. native would produce for the Gophers as she hit a two RBI single down the left field line, making the score 7-5.
Dorle went perfect at the plate in the second game with the two-RBI single being her lone recorded at bat. The junior catcher also received two walks and score one run.
Kelsey Kimminau would come in to relieve Koch after five and one-third innings. Koch would snag her career-high sixth win of the season while Kimminau threw one and two-thirds shutouts innings to garner her second save.
The Gophers added an insurance run in the bottom of the sixth with Erika Smyth scoring on a Walker groundout to the right side of the infield.
Walker posed as the largest threat in the second contest by going 3-for-4 at the plate with one RBI and scoring twice. Junior Alex Davis also had a good day in the box as she went 2-for-3.
Minnesota looks to go for the sweep over Nebraska tomorrow at noon on the Big Ten Network.
Notes: It took Minnesota 29 games to garner its 20th victory of the season, which is the fastest for a Gopher squad since 2002 (27 games)….The Gophers have tallied 34 home runs thus far this season, which is the second most in school history for a single season (43, 1999)…The Maroon and Gold defeated Nebraska for the first time since the 1992 season…The all-time Minnesota-Nebraska series now sits at 8-15…Kaitlyn Richardson has belted nine home runs on the season…Richardson improves her hitting streak to five games…Madie Eckstrom is on a three-game hit streak…Alissa Koch recorded her sixth win of the year, which is her career-high for a season…Minnesota has out hits its opponent 22 times this year, and they are 18-4 in those games…The first game of the series was 2 hours and 46 minutes long, which is the longest for the Gophers this season.