Gophers go undefeated in Georgia

Mark Heise

Heading into the Georgia Southern tournament over the weekend, Minnesota softball coach Lisa Bernstein said the Gophers were looking for a tournament championship.

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Dartmouth
what: Softball
when: 3 p.m., Friday
where: Marin, Tenn.

Five games later, that’s exactly what they got.

Minnesota swept through the tournament Saturday to improve its record to 11-5, beating Georgia Southern and Oakland twice each and Jacksonville once, playing three games Saturday and two Sunday.

“The kids did a great job. We hit the ball, fielded well,” coach Lisa Bernstein said. “They stepped up and they won this thing. I’m really proud of them.”

Following Friday’s cancellation due to rain, Minnesota came out strong on Saturday, showing strength in pitching by allowing just two runs, one earned over 20 innings of work.

The Gophers hit the ball well in all three games, topping Oakland 9-2, while shutting out Georgia Southern 8-0 and Jacksonville 1-0.

Junior pitcher Katie Dalen pitched seven strong innings against Oakland, striking out nine while allowing just one earned run.

“We definitely got ahead in every at bat and kept the walks down,” Dalen said. “Our defense behind us did a great job too. I think the past two weekends we were missing things here or there, but this weekend we were clicking.”

Offensively, Minnesota pounded out 11 hits while facing three different pitchers. Senior second baseman Amber Nelson collected three hits and scored twice, while freshman first baseman Malisa Barnes collected a pair of hits and two RBIs.

The Gophers exploded for a six-run inning in the fourth, and tacked on their last three runs in the fifth and sixth.

Junior pitcher Briana Hassett followed up Dalen’s strong outing with two of her own, giving up just six hits in a pair of shutouts over Georgia Southern and Jacksonville.

Hassett lowered her ERA to 2.02 and collected her fifth and sixth wins of the season, as Minnesota gave its pitcher good run support, scoring eight against the Eagles.

Barnes and Nelson both homered and collected three hits each to continue to lead the Gophers’ scoring barrage. The top of the lineup collected 10 of the team’s 11 hits, sending Minnesota to the 8-0 win.

“It was a lot of fun,” Nelson said. “We were making contact with the ball, defense was solid, and pitching was solid. It was a great day for us.”

Senior outfielder Colleen Powers drove home the only run against the Dolphins, bringing home Nelson in the second inning to contribute to a 1-0 victory.

Dalen and Hassett were both sharp Sunday as well, allowing just three hits and a run between the two games to pick up a tournament win.

Dalen tossed a one-hit shut-out against Oakland in the first game, and the Gophers scored their only runs on a three-run triple in the first inning by sophomore outfielder Heidi Carls, leading to the 3-0 victory.

Hassett sealed the tournament win against Georgia Southern, pitching a two-hitter and allowing just one run on a solo homer.

Minnesota scored two in the first and two in the second, as senior outfielder Sila Fernandez doubled home two runs and Nelson drove home the other two. Hassett took care of the rest, striking out 12 in the 4-1 win.

“I keep telling our pitchers to let us play a little bit,” Nelson joked about the strikeout totals. “But they just keep shutting people down. It’s a great feeling to be able to count on them to get the job done.”