Gophers go drop five-of-six in home tourney

The University of Minnesota softball team played six games at the Metrodome from Thursday to Sunday but was only able to come away with one win. The Gophers lost twice to Western Illinois on Thursday by scores of 6-3 and 11-3. They were able to pick up a shutout win against Northern Iowa on Friday as they scored four runs, but that was the most runs the team would score in any of the games, losing on Saturday 5-2 to Wisconsin-Green Bay and 3-2 to Arkansas. The Gophers finished the weekend with a 2-1 loss to Drake Sunday afternoon that went to extra innings. Head coach Lisa Bernstein said she was disappointed in her teamâÄôs play. âÄúWe have opportunities in clutch situations when we need people to get the job done and get the key hit for us,âÄù Bernstein said. The Gophers stranded 36 base runners in their five losses, and only two in their win over Northern Iowa. In her teamâÄôs win on Friday, GophersâÄô starting pitcher Briana Hassett struck out nine and only allowed two hits en route to her third shutout of the season. Hassett had 50 strike outs in 30 and one-third innings pitched over the weekend, including a 15 strikeout performance in the Gophers extra inning loss on Sunday. Bernstein said HassettâÄôs experience is a big part of her success. âÄúShe can put this team on her back âÄî sheâÄôs that good,âÄù Bernstein said. Hassett said the team needs to be able to score runners when they get on base. âÄúWe have to come together. It canâÄôt be just be one person in different innings,âÄù she said. The GophersâÄô ace said the team started to make more contact in their last couple games of the tournament. She said freshman Dannie Skrove and junior Heidi Carls stepped up. âÄúThey had really good weekends, so theyâÄôre really maturing,âÄù Hassett said. Skrove hit .333 over the weekend and Carls hit .353. In the final game of the tournament, the Gophers lost in extra innings on a suicide squeeze by Drake catcher Erin Mollohan. In college softball extra innings, a team puts a runner at second base at the start of each inning because of international rules. Drake was able to move their shortstop, Elena Leon to third and then score her on the suicide squeeze. Hassett said she wasnâÄôt expecting the squeeze. âÄúThe moment I started pitching, I heard everyone yelling. ItâÄôs too bad, it was a good play by them,âÄù she said. The Gophers elected not to try a squeeze after moving third baseman Colleen Conway over to third, because they had their three and four hitters, Malisa Barnes and Shannon Stemper coming up to bat. Conway said DrakeâÄôs bunt was in the perfect spot. She said Stemper and Barnes would have scored her from third 70 percent of the time and said she agreed with the call not to attempt the squeeze. Conway said the team is a second-half team right now. âÄúI think that we need to improve on scoring more runs early in the game to give our pitchers a head start,âÄù Conway said.