Gophers finish 3-1 at Easton Desert Classic

Minnesota lost 15-2 to No. 1-ranked Florida on Sunday afternoon.

Minnesota junior Sara Moulton pitches during a doubleheader against Wisconsin on Sunday, April 7, 2013, at Jane Sage Cowles Stadium.

Jaak Jensen

Minnesota junior Sara Moulton pitches during a doubleheader against Wisconsin on Sunday, April 7, 2013, at Jane Sage Cowles Stadium.

by Jared Christensen

The No. 24 Gophers softball team continued its hot start to the season by posting a 3-1 record in the Easton Desert Classic this weekend. Its only loss came against top-ranked Florida.

Minnesota senior pitcher Sara Moulton led the way for the Gophers, adding a pair of wins to her resume. The wins propelled her past current pitching coach Piper Ritter for the most in program history.

The Gophers’ bats exploded for 30 runs in the first three games of the weekend before Florida’s slowed them to a near halt Sunday. Minnesota had only four hits in the 15-2 loss.

While the 13-run loss was a blow to an otherwise successful road trip, head coach Jessica Allister said she was very pleased with her team’s performance.

“Those are all very, very good teams, so to come out with three wins is very promising,” she said.

Moulton’s impressive weekend was highlighted by the shutout win against UNLV on Friday night. She took a perfect game into the final inning and finished with nine strikeouts.

Moulton said she wasn’t concerned with the perfect game.

“They put in a pinch hitter, and she hit the ball up the middle,” she said. “That will happen. I’m just happy we won the game.”

That win was her fourth shutout of the season. The weekend improved her record to 5-1 this season.

Minnesota junior infielders Tyler Walker and Kaitlyn Richardson led the team offensively. Richardson went 6-for-9 on the weekend with five runs batted in. Walker registered six hits and scored six runs.

But it wasn’t just those two doing the damage on offense.

Against BYU, outfielders Sydney Fabian and Bree Blanchette powered the Gophers’ offense. They each hit a home run, and Blanchette finished the game with five RBIs. Fabian added three RBIs to help the Gophers post 13 runs against the Cougars.

Moulton said the offensive boost helps her while pitching.

“There’s nothing better than pitching with a lead,” she said. “And seeing the offense succeed motivates me in the circle.”

Gophers junior Erica Meyer also had a home run over the weekend. Her shot came against Boise State, and she finished with three RBIs.

The lone loss of the weekend came against No. 1 Florida — a squad that has qualified for the Women’s College World Series five times in the last six years.

Richardson said she hopes to avenge that loss down the road in postseason play.

“[The loss] was a learning experience,” she said, “but I look forward to meeting them again because when we get our second shot, we can beat them.”

This is just the third time a Minnesota softball team has started a season 8-0. Walker said she’s hungry to continue the success.

“We’re already excited for next weekend,” she said. “We’re ready to come out and hunt.”