U softball shuts down OSU

Mark Heller

It’s a good thing the Minnesota softball team’s pitching staff only gave up one run in three games.
Because if the Gophers gave up just one more, their Big Ten tournament position might have been entirely different.
Instead, Minnesota locked up the No. 2 seed in the conference tournament next weekend in Ann Arbor, Mich., thanks to a slim three-game sweep of Ohio State this weekend at Bierman Softball Stadium.
The Gophers scored only four runs in the three games, but the pitching staff allowed just one, winning the first two games by 1-0 scores before winning 2-1 on Sunday in 12 innings.
“Our hitters did an outstanding job,” Gophers co-coach Julie Standering said. “We got the hits, just not the timely hits. (On Sunday) we had 13 hits, but we were robbed seven or eight times by outstanding defense on (Ohio State’s) part. Hats off to Ohio State for coming out and putting up a good game against us.”
The Buckeyes’ Toni Hileman pushed the Gophers as far as possible on Sunday, but senior pitcher Steph Klaviter shoved back.
Ohio State got the first run of the game in the top of the fourth inning on two singles sandwiched around a stolen base. Minnesota countered with a run in the bottom of the fifth on a two-out RBI single by Jordanne Nygren to score Steph Midthun.
And that was it for a long, long time.
Both Klaviter and Hileman shut down each team the rest of the way, forcing extra innings.
Finally, seven innings later, Erin Brophy drew a two-out walk, then shocked the Buckeyes by stealing second. Midthun was intentionally walked, and Tammi Hays singled to left-center to score Brophy from second and win the game.
“When I got the sign to steal, I was like, ‘Cool, I’m going,'” Brophy said. “I knew they weren’t expecting it. I’m not a small person and I’m not somebody who runs all over the bases. I knew it would throw them off-guard.”
Both pitchers went the distance. Hileman went 11 2/3 innings, allowing 13 hits but only two earned runs. She walked eight (three intentionally) and struck out six while throwing 193 pitches.
Klaviter won her 20th game of the season for the third-consecutive season. She went 12 innings, giving up only two hits and one unearned run. She walked just one and struck out nine, throwing 128 pitches.
“It was like my hand was on with the glove,” Klaviter said. “I was really hitting my spots and the umpires were calling the corners for me.”
In Saturday’s doubleheader, Klaviter, Heather Brown and Michelle Harrison combined to shut out Ohio State in both games.
In game one, Hileman held Minnesota scoreless into extra innings. The Gophers won it in the bottom of the eighth. With one out, Morgan Holden reached on an infield single. Amy Hafemeyer came in to pinch run and immediately stole second. Brophy struck out, but pinch hitter Erin Mooney reached on an error and Midthun singled to right to score Hafemeyer.
Klaviter went the distance, going eight innings and giving up six hits and no runs. She walked none and struck out seven.
Minnesota got a 1-0 lead in the second game with two outs in the top of the fifth. Morgan Holden and Brophy each hit singles and Ninette Mohns pinch ran for Holden. Dana Ballard’s ground ball was booted, allowing Mohns to score the only run of the game.
Brown and Harrison did the rest, giving up just three hits and no runs. Brown got the win to go 12-1 on the season, and Harrison pitched two-plus innings for her fifth save.
“I haven’t been going out a lot lately,” Brown said. “I have been going in for two or three innings at a time, so I was glad to get five innings of work today.”
Minnesota escaped from a series that was much closer than anticipated. But the three wins, coupled with losses by Penn State and Michigan State, gave the Gophers sole possession of the second seed. They will face No. 3 Penn State on Friday.
“These shutouts were excellent for us,” Brown said. “It will give us a big boost for next week and a confidence booster. However much confidence (the pitching staff has), the rest of the team has that too.”