Minn. wins four, loses to No. 7 Georgia at Bulldog Invitational

Gophers ace Sara Moulton eclipsed the 100-strikeout mark for the year.

Betsy Helfand

 

The Gophers softball team wrapped up its fourth consecutive one-loss tournament on Sunday in Athens, Ga., finishing 4-1 at the Bulldog Invitational.

Minnesota defeated Cleveland State, Mercer, Ohio and Rutgers and lost to No. 7 Georgia.

In each of their four tournaments this year, the Gophers have won all but one game, which is why they sit near the top of the Big Ten standings with a 14-4 record.

Each of their losses has come at the hands of the tournament’s host team, which has usually been the best team.

Head coach Jessica Allister credits the trend to a combination of playing true road games and playing tougher competition.

Sara Moulton had 10 strikeouts and a complete game, but the Gophers were unable to mount a comeback after the Bulldogs jumped out to a 3-0 lead in the first inning.

Minnesota had just four hits on the day. It walked seven times  but was unable to capitalize on those baserunners and lost 5-2.

The pair of runs came from a fifth-inning Kari Dorle double.

Moulton gave up five runs, four earned, in the loss. She is the Big Ten’s ERA leader at 0.80 and strikeout leader at 124, and had not given up more than two runs in any game this season.

Moulton, already the two-time Big Ten Pitcher of the Week, had three wins on the weekend along with her one loss, and three complete games.

Against Rutgers on Sunday, she recorded a season-high 13 strikeouts. She held Rutgers to just three hits in the complete game for a 4-0 win.

Minnesota recorded its sixth mercy-rule win this season Saturday against Ohio.

Freshman shortstop Tyler Walker went 3-for-4 in the five-inning 10-0 win and knocked in three runs.

Walker is leading the Big Ten in runs scored with 20. Allister credited Erica Meyer, Kaitlyn Richardson and Dorle — the three players that hit behind Walker — for part of that success.

Minnesota swept both of Friday’s games.

Alissa Koch started against Cleveland State and gave up three runs in the first inning, but Minnesota came back with six runs in the third and did not relinquish its lead.

After a Dorle RBI double and an Alex Davis two-run homer, Cleveland State walked the bases loaded.

The Gophers followed with a hit, a sacrifice fly and another hit to cap the scoring for that inning.

Moulton came on in relief to lock down the 9-5 win for Koch.

Their second win Friday was a 3-1 victory against Mercer. Moulton threw a complete game five-hitter, and Richardson went 2-for-3 with a homerun and two runs scored.

Normally one of the Big Ten’s top defensive teams, Minnesota committed eight errors this weekend.

“We are a great defensive team; we just had a little setback,” Allister said. “We need to be aggressive defensively, and I’m confident that it’s something we will improve upon and be ready to do next weekend.”

The Gophers will continue tournament play next weekend in Boca Raton, Fla., where they are scheduled to play five games in three days.