Hitting struggles plague Gophers

Minnesota managed just three runs across its five weekend games.

by Marco LaNave

For better or for worse, the growing pains have already set in for the Minnesota softball team through the seasonâÄôs first two weeks. The Gophers were shut out three times and lost four of their five games at the Florida Atlantic âÄúKick-OffâÄù Classic this weekend. Minnesota (4-7) scored just three runs all weekend and left an average of six runners on base in the five games. âÄúWeâÄôre getting put in some different situations, and weâÄôre learning through them,âÄù co-head coach Lisa Bernstein said. âÄúWe got a lot of little tests and challenges, and we were victorious in some and not so victorious in others, but weâÄôve got a hard-working group, a resilient group.âÄù After scoring just one run in four games, Minnesota scored twice in the first inning of Sunday morningâÄôs fifth-place game in Boca Raton, Fla. But a four-run sixth inning by Pittsburgh was too much for the Gophers to overcome in a 4-2 loss. The GophersâÄô only run in the first four games of the weekend gave them a 1-0 win over Ole Miss on Friday. Minnesota earned its third walk-off victory of the season by capitalizing on two Rebels errors in the bottom of the seventh inning. Gophers senior shortstop Abby Rehberger scored from second base when Rebels shortstop Lauren Grill made an errant throw on a two-out single by Gophers sophomore center fielder Dannie Skrove. Freshman pitcher Lacey Middlebrooks allowed just three hits and struck out nine batters in her first career shutout. Middlebrooks has all four of the teamâÄôs wins this season, but she was on the other end of a pitching duel in a 1-0 loss to Kentucky on Saturday. She said she loves being in pitching duels, which will benefit her later in her career. âÄúI would rather have those games that challenge me as a pitcher,âÄù Middlebrooks said. âÄúI wouldnâÄôt trade those for any [other games].âÄù Though the team didnâÄôt put much on the scoreboard, the Gophers had 15 hits in the final two games after managing just nine in the first three. âÄúWeâÄôre hitting the ball throughout the lineup,âÄù Bernstein said. Bernstein said the tough weekend was still good for the team. âÄúThese were great games,âÄù Bernstein said.