Gophers finish 4-1 at Wildcat invitational

Their only loss was to 4th-ranked and host Arizona.

Nick Sudheimer

After another strong weekend of play, the Gophers seem to be finding their stride.

Minnesota won four of five games this weekend, finishing second behind No. 4 Arizona at the Wildcat Invitational.

âÄúThis was a very important weekend for us,âÄù said senior Aubrey Davis, who leads the Big Ten with 38 hits. âÄúWeâÄôre really working together as a team.âÄù

The Gophers started off the tournament by taking advantage of some shaky pitching from Utah State and jumped out to a quick 2-0 lead in the bottom of the first inning.

With the bases loaded, juniorDannie Skrove was hit by a pitch for a Big Ten-leading eighth time this season, allowing Malisa Barnes to score the first run of the game. With the bases still loaded, Alex Davis scored on a wild pitch from Aggies pitcher Mandy Harmon, giving the Gophers a 2-0 lead.

Despite a menacing Utah State team, strong defense and a stellar performance from freshman pitcher Sara Moulton allowed the Gophers to hold on for a 2-1 victory. Moulton allowed one earned run while striking out 11 batters.

In its second game of the weekend, Minnesota faced California-Riverside for the third time this season, after splitting the first two games.

The Highlanders took a 3-0 lead in the third inning and held the Gophers without a run until the sixth, when sophomoreKari Dorlescored off aJessie Hathaway hit, cutting the lead to 3-1. But the Highlanders quickly reclaimed the run in the bottom of the inning, and the Gophers came into the seventh trailing 4-1.

With the bases loaded, Davis was hit by a pitch, cutting the lead to 4-2 and putting the Gophers within striking distance. Dorle then knocked a line drive up the middle, allowing Minnesota to tie the game at 4-4, and the Gophers never looked back, eventually winning in extra innings, 7-5.

âÄúWe have a fighting attitude,âÄù said Moulton, who has the third most strikeouts in the Big Ten with 102. âÄúWe donâÄôt think weâÄôre out of any game until itâÄôs over, and we showed that in this game.âÄù

The streaking Gophers started play Saturday against a strong Portland State team. But Moultonpitched her third complete game of the season, striking out nine Viking batters as the Gophers won, 2-0.

Minnesota faced its biggest test of the weekend immediately following that victory, as it took on the tournamentâÄôs host team, No. 4 Arizona.

The Gophers started out strong and took a 1-0 lead at the top of the second when Hathawayripped a ball into left field, allowing Kelsey Klucas to score.

MinnesotaâÄôs lead was short-lived. Arizona demonstrated its prowess, scoring five runs in the bottom of the inning. The Wildcats ended up scoring 10 unanswered runs, winning 10-1 in five innings.

âÄúPlaying Arizona at Arizona is very tough to do,âÄù first-year head coach Jessica Allister said. âÄúWe need to improve on some things, working more as a team and defense âĦ But this team can compete with teams like Arizona.âÄù

The Gophers bounced back Sunday with a 7-5 victory over Idaho State, finishing the weekend 4-1 and putting the Gophers record at 11-8 on the season.

âÄúThese tournaments do a good job of getting us prepared for the Big Ten,âÄù Davis said. âÄúIf we continue to improve and keep swinging our bats with urgency we will be successful in the conference.âÄù