Gophers earn wins 1,000 and 1,001 with sweep of Green Bay

Minnesota took both games of the two-game series at Jane Sage Cowles Stadium.

by Mark Heise

Stellar pitching and a pair of timely hits was all the Minnesota softball team needed Wednesday night.

The Gophers (26-15 overall, 7-7 Big Ten) recorded a pair of shutouts in their midweek series against Wisconsin-Green Bay (8-22, 2-8 Horizon), and received seven runs via homers en route to the two-game sweep, winning 4-0 and 8-0.

“I’m glad we went out there and tried to make things happen and come away with a pair of wins,” coach Lisa Bernstein said. “They’ve been working their tails off and I’m proud of them. It’s good momentum heading into Wisconsin.”

Minnesota jumped all over Green Bay pitching in the first inning, as the first four batters reached base in a four-run, 10-batter inning.

Freshman first baseman Malisa Barnes highlighted the inning with a three-run blast over the center field fence and finished the game with a pair of hits.

The Gophers continued to threaten, putting runners in scoring position in each of the first three innings, and landing a runner on base in five-of-six innings.

Junior pitcher Briana Hassett just missed finishing her second no-hitter in the past two years, giving up a seventh-inning infield hit to the right of second base.

Senior second baseman Amber Nelson made a nice diving stop to keep the sharp grounder in the infield, but couldn’t recover the ball in time to record the out. Hassett finished the game with a one-hitter, striking out 11 to win 4-0.

“I didn’t really realize the situation at the moment,” Hassett said afterward. “I guess looking back it would’ve been nice, but it was a good day overall, so no complaints.”

Not to be left out, junior pitcher Katie Dalen contributed a gem of her own in the nightcap.

Dalen struck out seven and allowed just two hits to keep the Phoenix at bay, picking up her eighth win of the year.

Offensively, the Gophers threatened in each of the first two innings before breaking the scoreless tie in the third.

Junior designated player and Green Bay native Lauren Pockl hit her second career home run in the third, powering a grand slam to the opposite field. Her first career homer also came against Wisconsin-Green Bay last season at home.

Minnesota strung together six hits in the sixth for three runs, and loaded the bases again for Pockl. But a wild pitch ruined any hopes for a second grand slam, as the eighth run came home to end the game by the mercy rule.

“I was definitely excited for that at-bat,” Pockl said. “I was just focused on getting that last run in to finish the game, but we brought it home anyway.”