With a pair of wins against Indiana on Friday, Minnesota won its fourth game of the Big Ten season, tying last year’s total from a rain-shortened season.
when: 6 p.m., Friday
Coach Lisa Bernstein wouldn’t call the success improvement, saying each year is a new team with a clean slate.
“It’s a different team,” she said. “A third of our team is brand new, so all I can really talk about is this group and the future. And I’m really proud of this team, and this team’s effort.”
The Gophers’ effort led them to 7-3 and 5-2 wins against Indiana on Friday in their first home games of the season. The doubleheader with Purdue on Sunday was canceled due to rain.
Minnesota (21-10 overall, 4-2 Big Ten) played clean, crisp defense on a soggy field in the first game; a feat unmatched by the Hoosiers.
Indiana (10-25, 1-6) seemed unsure in the infield, either hesitating or making a late decision to throw the ball, handing the Gophers an advantage with the misplays.
In the fourth inning, Minnesota capitalized on those mistakes, scoring three runs on just one hit to open up a 4-0 lead. The Gophers added to that in the fifth, capping another three-run inning on a two-run double off the bat of freshman pinch-hitter Natalie Neal.
Seven runs were more than enough for junior pitcher Briana Hassett, as she cruised through all but one of her seven innings of work and finished with 16 strikeouts – one shy of a career high.
Junior catcher Shannon Stemper went 3-3 on the game, hitting the ball hard in each of her at-bats.
“It looked like a beach ball today,” Stemper said before turning the focus to her team’s impressive defensive performance. “We’ve talked in practice about backing up our pitchers, and today our defense did a wonderful job.”
In the nightcap, junior pitcher Katie Dalen gave up a pair of runs on a pair of nearly identical shots to the wall down the left field line in the first three innings.
But Dalen was in control for the remainder of the contest, scattering a total of six hits to shut out the Hoosiers from the fourth inning on.
Minnesota again capitalized on Indiana’s defensive troubles in the fourth, putting up four runs, the first two coming on a wild pitch and an error. Stemper drove home the final two runs with a double, giving the Gophers a 5-2 lead.
Senior outfielder Colleen Powers, after making a potential game-saving catch in the first game and throwing out a runner at the plate in the second game, was rewarded for her efforts with a squib-hit in her last at-bat of the game.
It was her first hit of the day, after recording no official at-bats in the first game due to a sacrifice hit and a walk.
“I kind of live by the motto, ‘the harder you work, the luckier you get,’ and it kind of shows,” Powers said. “Some balls drop that should have been outs, but if you hustle, you’ll get a couple of those.”
Junior third baseman Colleen Conway and freshman first baseman Malisa Barnes each collected a pair of hits in the second game, as the Gophers tied last year’s conference win total just six games into the season.