Gophers struggle at plate, fall back to earth with two losses

Minnesota scored only two runs in a doubleheader at Nebraska.

by Drew Claussen

The Gophers softball team fell back to earth Tuesday after flying high to start the Big Ten season.

Minnesota (26-15, 9-5 Big Ten) was swept by Nebraska in a doubleheader Tuesday in Lincoln, Neb. The Huskers beat the Gophers 3-2 in the first game and 4-0 in the second.

Nebraska pitcher Tatum Edwards helped her own cause in the bottom of the sixth inning of the second game when she launched a game-winning grand slam to left field.

Edwards also threw seven innings and had a three-hit shutout.

“We struggled a little bit offensively,” Gophers head coach Jessica Allister said. “We had some good at-bats, but we had some bad at-bats with runners in scoring position.”

Minnesota had a golden opportunity in the top of the fourth inning when it loaded the bases with one out, but Edwards struck out senior Alex Davis and sophomore Erika Smyth to end the inning.

In the first game, freshman Kayla Wenner and sophomore Kaitlyn Richardson both hit solo home runs in the top of the third inning to give the Gophers a 2-0 lead.

But Nebraska clawed back with one run in the bottom of the third and two in the bottom of the fifth.

The Huskers chased the winning run across the plate thanks to a great two-out at-bat by Hailey Decker. After working a full count, Decker drew a walk and eventually scored when Gophers junior Sara Moulton hit a batter with the bases full.

“They had a couple infield singles, just unlucky hits,” Allister said. “We were a little snake bit.”

Moulton, the Gophers’ ace, pitched five innings and gave up three earned runs on eight hits.

Nebraska pitcher Emily Lockman threw all seven innings and gave up two earned runs on four hits.

Minnesota did not record a hit in the first game after its two-run third