Gophers finish out non-conference slate

The team went 2-1 in Kansas in its last three games before Big Ten play starts.

Senior utility Paige Palkovitch swings at a pitch against Purdue at Jane Sage Cowles Stadium on May 1.

Liam James Doyle, Daily File Photo

Senior utility Paige Palkovitch swings at a pitch against Purdue at Jane Sage Cowles Stadium on May 1.

by Emily Polglaze

The Gophers spent their spring break a little differently than most, embarking on a 10-day road trip that ended in Kansas over the weekend. 
 Minnesota opened competition Saturday with a 10-1 loss against Tulsa, followed by a 4-2 victory over Kansas later in the day and closed out the Rock Chalk Challenge with a 2-1 victory over the University of Missouri-Kansas City on Sunday
“I think we showed some resiliency,” head coach Jessica Allister said. “We know we can play against any team in the country when we’re succeeding in all three areas [hitting, pitching and fielding].”
The No. 22 Gophers (19-9) began tournament action Saturday after their first games Friday were cancelled for weather. 
Minnesota struggled against a high-powered Tulsa offense when the Golden Hurricane scored five runs in the first inning and added another five in the top of the third.
Senior outfielder Sydney Fabian put the Gophers on the board in the bottom of the third with a home run, but Minnesota’s offense stopped there. 
The Gophers fell to the Golden Hurricane 10-1 in just five innings. 
Minnesota came out stronger later in the day against Kansas, getting out to a 1-0 lead on a Fabian single in the top of the second. 
The Gophers added to their advantage in the third inning, starting with a home run from senior catcher Taylor LeMay. Senior outfielder Paige Palkovich and sophomore shortstop Sydney Dwyer each had an RBI in the inning to put Minnesota up 4-0. 
The Jayhawks (17-10) managed to add two runs in the third inning, but the Gophers kept them at bay for the last four innings to win 4-2. 
Minnesota has outscored its opponents by a 167-100 margin so far this season, but the team sees a benefit to closer games. 
“I think it makes it more competitive,” Fabian said. “We have to fight so it makes for a better offense when the pressure is on.” 
Minnesota kept of the theme of close battles in the tournament finale Sunday against Missouri Kansas-City. 
Minnesota was able to grab an early lead on its first at-bat of the game when junior Sam Macken hit her sixth home run of the season.
The Gophers added to their lead in the second inning with an RBI from Dwyer to go up 2-0.
The Kangaroos threatened with a one-run third inning, but Minnesota’s defense held them off for the rest of the game to win 2-1.
The tournament marked the end of Minnesota’s non-conference slate, and the team begins Big Ten play next weekend. 
“We’ve played some really good, ranked teams and won, and we’ve lost against some not-so-great teams,” Fabian said. “We’ve done well defensively and have come up well in some big situations, so we just have to stay prepared and be ready for a dog fight every game.”