Gophers get two shutout wins

Michael Rand

After winning the first game of its Wednesday doubleheader against Northern Iowa, 2-0, the Gophers softball team looked as if it would complete the sweep with ease. Minnesota scored three runs in the first inning of game two, and starting pitcher Steph Klaviter breezed through the early innings with no trouble.
The fourth inning, however, was a different story. Klaviter surrendered hits to the first three batters in the inning, loading the bases with no outs. Gophers coach Lisa Bernstein-O’Brien brought in relief pitcher Jennifer Johnson to try to hold the lead.
Johnson got two quick strikes on the first batter she faced. Bernstein-O’Brien then tapped her head with her index finger while motioning to catcher Ann Bartholmey, as if to say, “Be smart with the pitch you call. Use your head.” Johnson then pinned the outside corner for strike three.
The same scenario and same head tap came for Northern Iowa’s next hitter. Johnson produced the same result. Two outs, the bases were still loaded, and no one had scored.
Johnson fell behind two balls, one strike, to the third batter she faced, but the outcome of the at-bat was not in doubt. Bernstein-O’Brien may have wanted Bartholmey to use her head, but Johnson sure didn’t need to. She was in a zone — unconscious.
Two strikes later, the Gophers were out of the inning. Johnson had struck out the side, and everyone could relax again.
“I was just thinking about needing to get the outs,” she said. “I didn’t want to let anyone score. I wanted to keep the shutout for Klav.”
Minnesota, feeding off that boost, scored five runs in the bottom of the inning to make the score 8-0. After Johnson recorded three outs in the fifth — two by strikeout — the game was over because of the eight-run rule.
Johnson’s overpowering performance almost overshadowed Wendy Logue’s return to the mound in game one. Logue, who hadn’t pitched in more than two weeks because of tendonitis in her throwing arm, threw seven shutout innings for the victory.
“It was alright,” she said of her performance. “We won, but my pitches could have been a little more crisp.”
The games, which were played inside the Rice and Arlington Sports Dome in St. Paul because of cold weather, pushed Minnesota’s record to 27-9.
“We’re on a good roll right now,” Bernstein-O’Brien said. “We’re looking forward to playing this weekend and getting the job done against Penn State.”

N. Iowa 000 000 0 — 0 4 1
Gophers 020 000 x — 2 4 1
Soncini and Dalrymple; Logue and Bartholmey. W — Logue, 9-1. L — Soncini. T — 1:35. A — 50.

N. Iowa 000 00 — 0 6 2
Gophers 300 5x — 8 7 0
Worms and Shenk; Klaviter, Johnson (4) and Bartholmey, Severson (5). W — Klaviter, 12-3. L — Worms. S — Johnson, 5. T — 1:35. A — 50.

Gophers hitting statistics (2 games)
Nelson 6 2 1 1
Peters 3 1 0 0
Hegland 3 1 2 1
Beeler 5 0 1 3
Sbrocco 6 1 2 2
Fox 5 1 2 1
Bartholmey 1 0 0 0
Halvorson 5 1 1 0
Midthun 4 1 2 0
Carey 2 0 0 0
Brophy 1 0 0 0
Ballard 1 0 0 0
Schwartz 0 1 0 0
Bennett 0 1 0 0
Totals 42 10 11 8