From the grass to the turf, Gophers host tournament at the Dome

Minnesota softball will play on their home turf today âÄî literally. Returning from a successful season opener trip in Tampa, Fla., Minnesota (3-2) will not play outside again this time around. Their primary home, Jane Sage Cowles Stadium, still has visible signs of a long Minnesota winter that shows no signs of softball. So instead, the Gophers will play minutes away from campus in Florida-like 70 degree weather under a beautiful, white âĦ bubble. Minnesota softball hosts the Metrodome tournament, starting today. They begin play with a Western Illinois double-header at 4 p.m.; the second game follows at 6 p.m. Over the span of four days, the women will also see action from Northern Iowa, Wisconsin-Green Bay, Arkansas, and Drake. After three strong Louisville Slugger Tourney wins last weekend, coach Lisa Bernstein doesnâÄôt expect anything less than beating every one of these teams. âÄúThis is good competition, itâÄôs early in the season,âÄù Bernstein said. âÄúWe expect to come in and win our tournament, without a doubt. WeâÄôre playing at our home away from homeâĦâÄù Bernstein and the women also recognize that there are overall improvements to be made from last weekend. The results from last weekend only show solid beginnings for a competitive preseason. The Gophers didnâÄôt have trouble producing runs in their debut, scoring 21 in five games. Minnesota saw strong pitching performances from freshmen Alissa Koch and senior veteran Briana Hassett . Hassett pitched a four hit shutout to carry her team to a 10-0 win over Florida Gulf Coast to start off the season. Hassett carried her momentum into two more complete game victories over Illinois State and South Florida . So whatâÄôs the problem? Pitching, defense, and offense were all strong, but for a team that doesnâÄôt have big power hitters, run production is a process. And itâÄôs a must. Bernstein said she needs to see the little things done right in order to manufacture needed runs. âÄúWe play creative ball here when we donâÄôt have a lot of power. So thatâÄôs what weâÄôre going to do,âÄù Bernstein said. MinnesotaâÄôs entire lineup will have to play using their talents, their heads, and even the Metrodome turf. âÄúOn this turf and playing inside of the Metrodome, the hops are going to be pretty true and weâÄôre going to do everything we can to move people up 60 feet,âÄù Bernstein said.