The University of Minnesota softball team edged Florida International, 2-1 in eight innings, today to open the 2003 Pepsi Arizona Classic in Tucson, Ariz. The Maroon and Gold capitalized on the international tiebreaker rule in the top of the eighth inning and shut the door on the Golden Panthers in the bottom of the eighth to improve to 7-0 on the season.
In the eighth, with Rachel Keeney placed at second, Stepanie Sward layed down a sacrifice bunt and Veronica Roberts hit a single to right field for the go-ahead run. Pitcher Angie Recknor tallied the win to move to 4-0, forcing three groundouts in the bottom of the eighth.
The Golden Gophers got on the board first with junior first baseman Hailee Nanchy’s solo home run down the left field line in the top of the second inning. It was Nanchy’s first round-tripper of the season and only the third of her career. The run held until the bottom of the fifth when FIU’s Meagan Dontrich singled with one out, advanced to second on the next play and was hit home with Nicole Dubovik’s double down the left field line. Minnesota escaped the inning with the lone run allowed, thanks in part to catcher Anne Thul’s spectacular diving catch of a low foul ball.
The Panthers threatened in the bottom of the sixth, with relief pitcher Angie Recknor allowing a leadoff double to Cynthia Turek. But Recknor settled down from there and shut down the FIU bats to push the tie game to the seventh inning. Recknor forced a lineout to center, a flyout to left and struck out the final batter. FIU put the leadoff runner, Jennifer Powell, on base in the bottom of the seventh with a Recknor walk. Yarah Otero, pinchrunning, advanced to second on a sacrifice bunt and Stephanie Wolter gained first on an intentional walk. With two on, Recknor struck out Dubovik and Jennifer Owens to send the game to extra innings.
The Golden Gophers take on host Arizona, the No. 2 team in the nation, at 6 p.m. Mountain time at Rita Hillenbrand Memorial Stadium. Minnesota then takes on Arkansas at 8 p.m. in the nightcap.