Minnesota’s pitchers falter in three-loss weekend

Minnesota lost three of the four games it played over the weekend.

Minnesota's Nikki Anderson pitches during a doubleheader against Wisconsin on Sunday, April 7, 2013, at Jane Sage Cowles Stadium.

Daily File Photo; Jaak Jensen

Minnesota’s Nikki Anderson pitches during a doubleheader against Wisconsin on Sunday, April 7, 2013, at Jane Sage Cowles Stadium.

Matt Greenstein

Strong pitching helped the Gophers win all but one of their first 14 games this season.

But over the weekend, while in Florida, Minnesota’s pitching assisted in three losses.

The Gophers won only one of four games.

Last year, then-sophomore Nikki Anderson pitched 42 innings mostly in relief appearances.

But over the weekend, the junior pitched less than five innings, giving up 12 runs — 10 earned.

Anderson’s struggles were visible during the Gophers’ second game — an 8-2 loss against James Madison — with a 4.2 inning relief appearance. She came in for freshman Kylie Stober.

Stober gave up four runs on six hits in just more than one inning pitched.

She took the loss, but of James Madison’s 18 hits, 12 were against Anderson.

Earlier this season, head coach Jessica Allister said Minnesota’s pitching staff will get back to the “1A-1B” pitching rotation it had with sophomore Sara Groenewegen and Sara Moulton last year.

But the Gophers have some work to do before getting there, and Anderson’s weekend solidified that.

“It’s early, and we have people that haven’t thrown that much and they’re learning. I know that they’ll get to where we need them to be,” Allister said.

During her second appearance — a 10-5 loss to Fordham — Anderson struggled early and often.

Before she could record an out, Allister removed her from the circle.

Anderson faced eight batters and allowed eight runs to cross the plate.

After Anderson’s replacement, sophomore Hannah Evavold gave up a run in one inning, Stober took to the circle again.

 She faced 20 batters and allowed one run off of five hits.

Allister has preached the importance of having two of the three phases — pitching, hitting and defense — in order to win.

But over the weekend, Minnesota’s pitching fell short.

“[Pitcher] is the most important position on the field. It doesn’t matter who you are or who you’re playing, [pitching] is a factor,” Allister said.