Minnesota right back to the grind as they head to Michigan

Minnesota right back to the grind as they head to Michigan

Jules Ameel

After losing the first game of the double-header 6-1 on Wednesday, the Minnesota softball team behind a strong outing from pitcher Briana Hassett took down the No. 6 Northwestern 8-3 in the nightcap. While the Gophers coaches and players were thrilled about the victory over such a highly-ranked opponent, their joy quickly turns to focus once again as Minnesota (21-22 overall, 4-4 Big Ten) travels to Michigan this weekend to take on the eighth-ranked Wolverines. âÄúThere is no rest for the weary,âÄù Gophers co-head coach Lisa Bernstein said. Saturday at 1 p.m. will be the first game for Minnesota at Michigan, followed by a 12 p.m. game on Sunday. The loss for the Wildcats on Wednesday was their first in conference play, and snapped a ten-game losing streak for the Gophers against Northwestern (23-8, 9-1), dating back to a 2-1 win in Evanston, Ill., in the first game of a doubleheader on April 11, 2004. âÄúThat might be one of the highest ranked teams weâÄôve ever beaten, and thatâÄôs a good ball club,âÄù Bernstein said of Northwestern. Minnesota also posted its first win against a ranked opponent since a 1-0 defeat of No. 25 Iowa on April 20, 2008. It also was Minnesota’s first win over a top ten team since April 27, 2007, when the Gophers defeated ninth-ranked Michigan by a 2-0 score. The Wildcats brought a 12-game winning streak into the second game of the double-header, but HassettâÄôs pitching continued to get stronger as the night went on to cool off a hot Northwestern squad. âÄúTheyâÄôre potent and theyâÄôll go far in the NCAAâÄôs,âÄù Bernstein said of Northwestern. While the senior struck out 11 in the first game, Hassett had a more dominating performance in the second as she struck out seven for complete game No. 28 this season. âÄúShe knew she was going to throw for 14 innings today, and we are just real proud of her,âÄù Bernstein said of Hassett after the WednesdayâÄôs game. Hassett also increased her national-best strikeout total to 327 in the win. After playing well in four-straight games at home against ranked opponents, the Gophers next chance to overcome a ranked team will be on the road. Michigan is unbeaten at home this season, going 4-0 in games in Ann Arbor, Mich. Like Minnesota, No. 8 Michigan (27-9, 4-2) also boats a dominant pitcher in Nikki Nemitz, with a 17-5 record this season and a .077 ERA. But in the win over Northwestern on Wednesday, the Gophers took down possibly the Big TenâÄôs top pitcher in Lauren Delaney (22-7). Hassett said the win over a pitcher like Delaney does a lot to the confidence of the team the rest of the season. âÄúIt was great for us because we were able to walk in and know we had nothing to lose,âÄù Hassett said. âÄúIt gives our team so much confidence and momentum to build off of. It shows us that if we focus and play our ball game, anything can happen.âÄù And Hassett said beating one highly-ranked team will hopefully translate into the same outcome this weekend at Michigan. âÄúIt definitely helps, and we definitely have a lot to work off of because every game is a challenge,âÄù Hassett said. âÄúBut weâÄôre really excited about this and hope it continues.âÄù