Baseball, softball, gymnastics teams all head on road

by Andrew Baker

The Gophers baseball team didnâÄôt get off to quite the start it had hoped for over the weekend, winning one of three games at the Big Ten/Big East Challenge in Florida.

It wasnâÄôt all bad, though.

âÄúI found out what I think I already knew,âÄù Gophers head coach John Anderson said at practice Wednesday. âÄúI think weâÄôre going to be pretty good on the mound.âÄù

After getting blown out 14-1 by St. JohnâÄôs in the first game âÄî in which the pitching staffâÄôs job was made harder by four defensive errors âÄî the GophersâÄô first win of the season came in their next game with a dominant pitching performance against No. 9 Connecticut. Starter Phil Isaksson gave up three hits and one unearned run in five innings of work to earn a no-decision.

Reliever Billy Soule picked up the win, and the GophersâÄô single-season saves record-holder Scott Matyas earned his first save of 2011 with 1 1/3 shutout innings.

In the GophersâÄô third and final game of the tournament, No. 20 Louisville held Minnesota to three hits in a 3-0 shutout. Despite the offenseâÄôs struggles, left-handed freshman reliever Tom Windle made an impressive collegiate debut, pitching three shutout innings in relief of starter Austin Lubinsky.

âÄúWhen I got out there, I felt really comfortable,âÄù Windle said of his first game as a Gopher, later adding, âÄúI feel like I really donâÄôt get that nervous before games, but I was just really excited to get out there.âÄù

This weekend, Minnesota embarks on its second of five consecutive road trips when it heads to Winston Salem, N.C., for the Wake Forest Tournament, where it will face Wake Forest, Towson University and Delaware State.

There the team will play on artificial turf, which Anderson said will be to his teamâÄôs advantage since thatâÄôs what it practices on.

âÄúI would like to see us play consistent, good defense all weekend and then try to get some things done on offense here,âÄù Anderson said.

 At the Big Ten/Big East Challenge, Minnesota was outscored 19-4 and outhit 31-14.

âÄúI think the hardest thing to do early in the year is hit quality pitching,âÄù Anderson said. âÄúItâÄôs hard to duplicate it, especially in the cages [at the Gibson-Nagurski Football Complex].âÄù He later added, âÄúI think we still have the makings here to have a pretty good offensive team.âÄù

WomenâÄôs gymnastics team in for some sun

After defeating Iowa State at the Sports Pavilion during a blizzard last Sunday, the No. 21 Gophers womenâÄôs gymnastics team will head to (presumably) sunny southern California this weekend to take on Cal State Fullerton in a Friday dual meet, followed by a tri-meet at UCLA against the No. 9 defending national champion Bruins and No. 12 Denver on Sunday.

The Gophers have won four of their five dual meets this year but face some of their stiffest competition of the season.

They are ranked No. 16 on the uneven bars, No. 13 on the balance beam and No. 21 on the floor exercise.

Last Sunday, freshmen Dusti Russell and Justine Cherwink returned to the lineup âÄî though each performed only in exhibition âÄî after missing time with injuries.

MenâÄôs gymnastics travels to the Windy City

The No. 8 menâÄôs gymnastics team has been picking up steam as well and will head to Chicago to face the University of Illinois-Chicago on Sunday.

On Friday, the Gophers earned their highest team score since last yearâÄôs Big Ten Championships in a 345.6-331.3 victory over the Air Force at the Sports Pavilion.

The margin of victory was a season-high for Minnesota, which has had just two meets at home this season and has only one remaining.

The team will be without sophomore pommel horse standout Harris Coleman for the rest of the year due to a shoulder injury.

The Gophers have won two of their three dual meets this season.

Moulton leads softball team to Greensboro

The Gophers softball team finished last in the Big Ten a year ago and got off to a slow start this season, losing all four games of the Hotel Encanto Invitational tournament in Las Cruces, N.M., two weekends ago.

This week though, things started to look up for first-year coach Jessica AllisterâÄôs team, which won three of five games at the aTen Construction Tournament in Riverside, Calif.

The Gophers defeated Rutgers 9-3, Loyola Marymount 7-2 and the University of California-Riverside 6-1.

Freshman pitcher Sara Moulton pitched complete games and was credited with the victory in all three, striking out 26 total batters.

On Friday, Minnesota will play the first of five games at the Spartan Classic tournament in Greensboro, N.C. It will face Morehead State, Kansas and the University of North Carolina-Greensboro, followed by two yet-to-be-determined opponents.