Minnesota sophomore pitcher Briana Hassett isn’t the type to call herself perfect. But she nearly was Tuesday night as the Gophers’ softball team split a doubleheader at home against South Dakota State.
In the second game, Hassett struck out a career-high 14 batters, including seven of the first nine, keeping her perfect game alive through five and two-thirds innings.
After walking two in the sixth with help from a tight strike zone, the sophomore finished off the game strong for Minnesota, recording the 15th no-hitter in team history. It was the first since teammate Katie Dalen tossed a no-no against Rhode Island March 18, 2005.
“Briana started off the second game, sending a message striking out the first four batters,” coach Julie Standering said. “I was very pleased with the performance; it was outstanding and we needed that. Briana really came through for us tonight.”
Dalen started pitching the first game for the Gophers (20-18 overall, 2-5 Big Ten), and the Jackrabbits were ready for her. South Dakota State jumped all over Dalen by slashing 12 hits and reaching base in 10 of its first 19 plate appearances.
The Jackrabbits (12-27) scored two in the first on four singles and doubled home a run in the third. They added one last insurance run in the seventh to lead 4-0.
“They were fired up and looking for a fight, I think they would’ve made contact with anything we threw up there,” Standering said. “They put the ball in play, found some holes, and took advantage of their quick start.”
Meanwhile, Minnesota was stymied by South Dakota State sophomore pitcher Jenna Marston, collecting just four hits over seven innings in the loss.
The Gophers threatened in the second, loading the bases with one out before lining into a double play to end the inning. Minnesota didn’t advance past first base again until the seventh, when the team left the bases loaded to end the game.
Sophomore catcher Shannon Stemper was quick to praise South Dakota State after the loss.
“They’re right next door, and they’re a brand new Division I program, so the big deal is to beat us,” she said. “They came out firing and we were a little down that first game, which is unacceptable. We knew we had to step it up for the second game.”
With her success against the Gophers, the Jackrabbits were quick to start Marston again in the second game. Minnesota finally figured out Marston in the second inning, as senior Katie Meyer doubled and junior Colleen Powers singled and stole second.
Junior Chrissy Sward collected her second hit of the day, doubling to right-center and giving the Gophers a 2-0 lead. It was all the lead Hassett would need, sending Minnesota to a 2-0 win with the no-hitter.
“I was pretty fired up,” Hassett said. “I wanted to make sure we set the tone early after the loss, and I think we made up for our flat start in the first game.”