Nygren sets Big Ten home run record in Gophers’ sweep

Brian Stensaas

Minnesota softball infielder Jordanne Nygren has made a habit of hitting home runs in her three full seasons of play for the Gophers.

Her latest, she says, was the hardest to get.

Batting in the leadoff position Monday afternoon in the first game of a doubleheader with Drake, Nygren smoked a homer to center in her first at-bat. The shot not only sparked an 11-0 thrashing over the Bulldogs, but was her 44th career home run. She surpassed Shannon Beeler on the team and Big Ten record list for most long balls in a career.

“It’s a breath of fresh air,” Nygren said. “It was a personal goal of mine to get the record. I knew this one would be tough to get. Now I don’t have to worry about it.”

Minnesota (20-10-1) completed the sweep over Drake (16-17) taking the second game 4-2.

After Nygren’s shot to open the first game, the offense just kept on coming.

The Gophers plated five runs in the second. Veronica Roberts belted a triple down the right field line scoring Nygren, Stephanie Sward and Valerie Alston. Hailee Nanchy and Angie Recknor also collected RBIs in the inning.

For good measure, the Gophers also sent five runners home in the fifth.

For co-head coach Lisa Bernstein, the awakened bats after a dormant one-run showing in last Saturday’s doubleheader with Iowa was pleasant to see.

“We played very well here,” she said. “We had a conversation once we got to Des Moines about team focus and togetherness. It worked; we had success in putting the ball in play and looking for the gaps.”

Recknor took the win, upping her record to 10-3 on the season. She allowed only one hit and struck out four.

The second game wasn’t quite as one-sided. Minnesota again jumped out to the early lead when Shelly Nichols singled home Nanchy in the first. The Gophers made it a 2-0 game in the fourth when Erin Wallace scored on Andrea Smith’s double to left.

The Bulldogs made it interesting in the bottom of the sixth when they scored two runs with two outs. Minnesota, however, sealed the deal in the top of the seventh by scoring a pair of its own to claim the 4-2 win.

Piper Marten snagged the win, pitching six innings and striking out nine. She improved to 9-7 on the season.

The Gophers will have a brief stay in Minneapolis before heading back on the road this weekend. They are at Indiana on Friday and Saturday before taking on Purdue in a West Lafayette, Ind., doubleheader Sunday.

Women’s gymnastics

Minnesota women’s gymnasts Mary Skokut, Laura Johnson and Carolyn Yernberg were named to the 2003 All-Big Ten Women’s Gymnastics Team.

Skokut, a junior from Carmel, Ind., was named to the All-Big Ten First Team. Skokut finished first on the bars three times this season, while placing first on beam twice. As an all-arounder, she had 17 top-three finishes in individual and all-around events in 2003.

Johnson had an impressive freshman season by working as an all-arounder in 10 of the 13 meets. Johnson, an Albuquerque, N.M., native, posted six top-three finishes as an all-arounder and scored at least a 9.825 in each event this season.

Yernberg was one of the Gophers’ top vaulters in 2003. The sophomore from Blaine, Minn., scored four of the team’s top-five scores on vault and placed in the top three on vault and floor exercise 17 times.

Men’s golf

The 12th-ranked Minnesota men’s golf team jumped from 10th place to fifth Monday at the National Invitational Tournament.

After getting off to a shaky start Sunday with a 14-over-par 302, the Gophers battled back with a team score of 4-under 284 to move to fifth place at 586 (+10). The 284 is the third-lowest team score of the event and moves Minnesota within 14 strokes of leader Arizona.

The Invitational is being held at the par 72, 7,138-yard Tucson National Golf Course in Tucson, Ariz.

Senior Wilhelm Schauman led the Minnesota charge with his sixth career round of 67 (-5) to leap from a tie for 34th to sit tied for fifth place with a total of 1-under 143. Fellow senior Matt Anderson shot a 2-under 70 to move to a tie for ninth at even-par 144. Junior Justin Smith carded an even-par 72 for a total of 149 (+5) to tie for 26th place.

Junior Ben Greve is tied for 37th at 151 (+7) after shooting a 3-over 75, while senior Simon Nash is tied for 65th place at 12-over 156.

The National Invitational Tournament will conclude today.

Baseball

Minnesota’s baseball team (14-10, 4-0) defeated Michigan State (5-17, 0-4) twice in a double-header to complete the four-game sweep of the Spartans in the opening weekend of Big Ten play. The Gophers won the first game 5-1 and rallied for an

11-10 victory in the second.

After only scoring one run in the first game, the second matchup saw the Michigan State bats ready for production. The Spartans jumped to an early 7-0 lead in the first inning with 11 batters coming to the plate. Michigan State then added another run in the second to take an 8-0 advantage.

Minnesota cut the lead in half in the bottom of the second inning. First baseman David Roach started the comeback with a single to left field. Left fielder Matt Fornasiere then doubled to right center to put runners on second and third. David Hrncirik grounded out to short, but drove in Roach to put Minnesota on the board. Fornasiere tallied the second run on an Andy Hunter single up the middle. Hunter was followed by catcher Jake Elder doubling down the left line to again put runners on second and third. Centerfielder Sam Steidl then drove a single up the middle to score Hunter and Elder and move the score to 8-4.

Michigan State added another run in the fourth to go up 9-4, but Minnesota took the lead with six runs in the bottom of the inning. With two outs, Ben Pattee hit a double and advanced to third on an error by the Spartan right fielder. Next up, Luke Appert drove in Pattee with his 12th double of the season. Appert then scored on a single to left field by shortstop Scott Welch, with Welch coming home on a hit up the middle by Fornasiere. With the bases loaded, Hunter stepped up to the plate and smashed a double to right center. The hit cleared the bases, scoring Roach, Fornasiere and Hrncirik and gave the Gophers a 10-9 lead.

Michigan State trailed by two, 11-9, in the top of the seventh and scored a run in the inning, but fell short of a victory. Freshman Brian Bull nabbed the win to move to 3-1 on the season. Bull allowed two runs on six hits in five innings of relief. Jeff Moen pitched the seventh inning to earn his second save of 2003.

Hunter was the top Minnesota batter in the second game, going 2-for-3 with four RBIs and a run. Pattee, Fornasiere and Elder also each totaled two hits in the game with Fornasiere also scoring two runs. Steidl and Hrncirik both drove in two runs, while Jon Becker scored two himself.

The first game featured senior right-hander C.J. Woodrow throwing the first complete game of the season for a Minnesota pitcher. The defending Big Ten pitcher of the year tossed seven innings, scattering four hits with one earned run while striking out four. The win marked Woodrow’s sixth consecutive conference victory, his last loss coming against Penn State on April 14, 2002.

In the first contest, the Minnesota bats were led by Welch and Fornasiere. Welch went 2-for-3 with a run scored. Fornasiere got the Gophers on the board with a three-run double in the first inning and ended the game going 2-for-3 at the plate. Roach added two runs for Minnesota.

On the weekend, Minnesota outscored Michigan State 31-19, tallying 43 hits to the Spartans’ 33. The Gophers also hit an impressive 15 doubles in the series. This is the first time Minnesota has swept a Big Ten opening series since facing Michigan in 2000.

The Gophers will continue their Big Ten season traveling to Michigan to face the Wolverines in a four-game series April 4-6.

Men’s tennis

Sophomore Avery Ticer helped Minnesota clinch the doubles point and claimed a victory at No. 4 singles to push Minnesota (13-3, 4-1) past the Michigan State Spartans (10-9, 1-3) at the Baseline Tennis Center.

Ticer teamed up with senior Eric Robertson at No. 2 doubles in a lengthy match, lasting over an hour and a half. The duo rallied from a 7-3 deficit to hand the Spartans’ Adam Hourani and Jimmy McGuire a 9-8 (9-7) loss. Ticer then defeated Goran Topalo 7-5, 6-3 at No. 4 singles. With the singles win, Ticer improved to 4-1 in the Big Ten.

In other doubles action, Aleksey Zharinov and Chris Wettengel held on despite a Spartan rally to claim a 9-8 victory over Andrew Formanczyk and Cameron Marshall. Zharinov improved to 4-1 in singles competition with a 7-5, 6-2 victory over Formanczyk at No. 1 singles. Wettengel grabbed a 6-3, 6-1 win at No. 2 doubles over the Spartans’ Chris Mitchell.

Clay Estes battled through a three-set singles match with Jimmy McGuire at the No. 5 spot. Estes won the first set 6-1 but lost the second 2-6. He came back to win the third set 6-3. Estes is now 21-6 overall in singles competition.

The Maroon and Gold head to Evanston, Ill., to face the Northwestern Wildcats, Saturday, April 5 at noon.

Women’s tennis

Minnesota’s women’s tennis team (11-5, 4-1) defeated the Michigan State Spartans (8-9, 0-5) 7-0 in East Lansing, Mich. The Gophers swept doubles competition and won five of six singles matches in straight sets to claim their fourth Big Ten win of the season.

Valerie Vladea and Amy Thomas paired up at No. 1 doubles and defeated the Spartans’ Caroline Lay and Keri Thompson 8-5. In singles competition, Vladea came back from a one-set deficit to defeat Thompson 2-6, 6-3, 6-4 at the No. 2 spot. Thomas claimed a 6-2, 7-6 (4)

victory over Michigan State’s Karen Gustafson at No. 3 singles.

In other doubles action, the Maroon and Gold’s Angela Buergis and Nischela Reddy downed Gustafson and Kate Thomas 8-4. Michaela Havelkova and Brandi Watts breezed past Josie Schmude and Marta Walasek 8-2 at No. 3 doubles.

At No. 1 singles, Buergis fell behind 3-6 to the Spartans’ Lay in the first set, but claimed the second set, 6-3, and the tie-break set, 10-2, to earn the victory. Havelkova swiftly defeated Kate Thomas 6-2, 6-2 at No. 4 singles. Reddy and Watts also won their respective matches in straight sets.

The Maroon and Gold will return to the Baseline Tennis Center April 5 at 10:00 a.m. when they face the Wisconsin Badgers.