Minn. looks to continue strong start in Oklahoma

After back-to-back four-win tournaments, the Gophers face a struggling Northern Colorado team to start their next one.

Jesse Mandell-McClinton

The Minnesota softball team, coming off consecutive 4-1 tournaments, heads to Stillwater, Okla. this weekend for the Oklahoma State-Mizuno Classic.

The Gophers have jumped out to a 11-8 record this year, winning 11 of its last 15 after starting the season 0-4. The Gophers went 9-13 after their first four tournaments last season.

The teamâÄôs success has been helped in large part by freshman pitcher Sara Moulton, whoâÄôs won nine of her last 10 decisions.

MoultonâÄôs freshman year has started off fantastically for Minnesota. Currently sitting at 10-4, she boasts a 3.22 ERA, three shutouts and 109 strikeouts in only 93.1 innings. After a sparkling high school career in Eagan, Minn., Moulton has seen that success continue at the college level and has become the Gophers go-to pitcher, starting 15 of the teamâÄôs 19 games so far this season.

Senior first baseman Malisa Barnes will look to continue to swing a hot bat, as she leads the team and ranks third among Big Ten players with a batting average of .466. Barnes, who has been one of MinnesotaâÄôs top hitters during her career, also leads the team in walks, hits and has a lofty on-base percentage of .568.

Third baseman Alex Davis, coming off of a freshman season in which she reached double digits in homeruns and led the team in RBIs, had six RBIs in the Wildcat Invitational last weekend and this year has already tied her 2010 total of 23. She and Barnes have both been hitting the ball well lately and are becoming a formidable duo at the corners.

The Gophers are scheduled to start the tournament with games against Northern Colorado (1-13), Oklahoma State (15-5), and Northern Iowa (9-6). Minnesota has won the first game in its last three tournaments and will have a good chance of doing so again against a Northern Colorado team that has scored more than five runs only once this season.

While MinnesotaâÄôs only game against a ranked team this year, No. 4 Arizona, ended in a 10-1 loss, the team has been playing well against most other teams and has shown improvement from last seasonâÄôs 14-20 non-conference record.