April 21, 2012
The University of Minnesota softball team had a historical day at Jane Sage Cowles Stadium on Saturday as they garnered two wins from Big Ten powerhouse and the 20th-ranked Michigan Wolverines.
The Golden Gophers (28-15, 7-7 Big Ten) edged out Michigan (31-13, 11-3 Big Ten) 1-0 in a game one pitching duel as Sara Moulton struck out 10 batters, and Erica Meyer belted a solo home run. Game two began two and a half hours later, due to a rain delay, but the Maroon and Gold kept the momentum to defeat the Wolverines, 6-4.
In Minnesota softball history, wins over Michigan have been rare with the all-time series sitting at 25-74, but on this day things changed. It is the first time since 1999 that the Gophers have defeated the Wolverines twice in a season.
Game One: Minnesota 1, No. 20 Michigan 0
A solo home run in the third inning by Meyer was all the help Moulton needed to garner the Gophers’ 1-0 triumph over nationally-ranked Michigan in a pitching battle. Moulton pitched a two-hitter while fanning 10 Wolverine batters.
After Moulton and Michigan south paw Hailey Wagner combined for six strikeouts in the first two innings, it looked as if it would be impossible for either offense to notch a run, but Meyer was up to the task in the third inning.
With two outs in the bottom of the third, the freshman from Arden Hills, Minn. garnered the only run Minnesota would need by jacking a solo home run over the center field wall. The homer was Meyer’s sixth of the season with all but one coming in Big Ten Conference play.
Three other Gophers chipped in on the offensive end as Kari Dorle, Madie Eckstrom and Dannie Skrove combined with Meyer to tally four team hits.
The one-run support was all Moulton needed to defeat the Wolverines as she allowed only three base runners the rest of the game. In the final four inning of the game, the sophomore hurler retired Michigan in order in the fifth and sixth innings.
The Wolverines looked to rally in the top of the seventh as they garnered a pair of base runners, but Moulton closed out the game the same way she began it, with a strikeout.
The victory snapped a 10-game losing streak to Michigan with the last win coming on April 27, 2007.
Game Two: Minnesota 6, No. 20 Michigan 4
After sitting through a two and a half hour rain delay, the Golden Gophers proved to keep the momentum going from the first game as they edged No. 20 Michigan, 6-4.
The score was unblemished as the Gophers headed into the bottom half of the third, but the Maroon and Gold pieced together a two-out rally to take the lead.
Bree Blanchette led off the inning as she reached on throwing error by second baseman Ashley Lane. After the next two Gophers were retired, freshman Kaitlyn Richardson stepped up and notched a base hit through the left side to keep the inning going. With a pair of runners on base, Dorle served as the hero by launching her eighth home run of the season to put Minnesota up 3-0.
Dorle had a heyday at the plate as she went 2-for-4 with one hit being her three-run homer.
Michigan would answer in the fourth with a solo home run by Amanda Chidester, making the score 3-1.
Minnesota looked to avenge the run they surrendered in the top half of the fourth, so they got the bats rolling and plated a pair of their own in the bottom half of the inning.
Again with two-outs, Meyer would come up with a big hit as she singled to center, which scored Tyler Walker and Blanchette. The Gophers had taken back the one run relinquished earlier in the inning along with adding to its lead, which was now 5-1.
The Golden Gophers tallied a total of 11 base hits in the game with all but one batter notching a hit. Walker and Richardson each recorded multi-hit games with two singles each.
The nationally ranked Wolverines looked to catch on to Moulton’s pitches as their offense busted through for three runs in the sixth. Sara Driesenga was the main culprit in the surge to get back in the game as she hit a two-run homer in the inning.
With only a one-run lead, Minnesota looked to give Moulton some insurance runs before the seventh inning, and it was Richardson and Erika Smyth who supplied the support.
Smyth led off the inning with a single to right field. The Kent, Wash. native would be pushed to second on a Blanchette walk and then tag up and advance to third on a Walker fly out. In the ensuing at bat, Richardson roped a single through the left side to bring in Smyth, making the score 6-4.
Moulton would trot out to the mound with the two-run lead and negate the Wolverines’ hopes of pulling off a comeback. The Eagan, Minn. would retire the side with three straight ground outs. She finished the game with four strikeouts and only allowed six hits.
Minnesota looks to carry its success over to the final game of the series tomorrow afternoon as they are trying to capture its first sweep over Michigan since 1983 on Sunday. The game will be played at JSC Stadium with the first pitch slated for noon.
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