April 12, 2014
MINNEAPOLIS - The 14th-ranked Minnesota softball team recovered from a 13-9 Friday loss to No. 23/25 Northwestern by winning the second game of the series, 13-5, in six innings Saturday afternoon at Jane Sage Cowles Stadium. The victory improved the Gophers' record to 31-6 on the season that includes a 9-3 ledger in Big Ten play.
In the circle, Sara Groenewegen went the distance for her sixth complete game of the year, improving to 10-0 in the season. She struck out 11 to up her season total to 117.
The high-scoring affair was a pitcher's duel for the first two and a half innings, before Tyler Walker doubled home the game's first run on the game's first hit in the bottom of the third inning. Minnesota tacked on two more runs in the inning when Walker scored on a wild pitch and Groenewegen singled home fellow freshman Sam Macken.
Northwestern came back strong in the next stanza, posting five runs to take a 5-3 lead. After Julia Kuhn hit a two-RBI single with the bases loaded and two outs and ninth hitter Paige Tonz hit a three-run homer to center field.
On the third pitch of the home half of the inning, Hannah Granger cut the Gophers' deficit with her second home run in as many days. Two batters later, Walker knotted the score with her fifth triple of the year, scoring Kayla Wenner. Sammy Albanese relived NU starter Nicole Bond, but pinch hitter Madie Eckstrom proceeded to double home Walker for the eventual game-winning run.
The Gophers, capitalizing on three Wildcat errors and a Granger RBI single, went on to score nine runs in the inning to jump ahead, 12-5. The nine-run output in the frame marked the highest run total in a single inning for the Gophers this season.
Neither team scored in the fifth and after Groenewegen struck out the side in order in the sixth, Erica Meyer ended the game with an RBI single to right field that score pinch runner Paige Palkovich.
The Minnesota win narrowed NU's edge in the all-time series to 52-46.
The teams play the rubber match of their three-game series series in Minneapolis at 1 p.m. Sunday. The Gophers then pick up play next weekend with a trip to No. 4/5 Michigan.
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