Arizona too much to handle but Gophers bounce back with three shut outs

Perennial softball powerhouse Arizona spoiled the homecoming of Minnesota coaches Lisa Bernstein and Julie Standering âÄî who played their college softball for the Wildcats âÄî in the Gophers first two games of the Hillenbrand Invitational in Tucson, Ariz., this weekend. But in another homecoming, this one for sophomore first baseman Malisa Barnes, the former Arizona high school player hit her first two home runs of the season. And along with three shutouts from senior Briana Hassett Minnesota won in its next three games and left Arizona on a high note. âÄúIt was really neat for Malisa, she had a lot of fans in the stands and she played great for us,âÄù Bernstein said. Knocking in an RBI single for the first run of the day Friday against Arizona, BarnesâÄô hit was followed by catcher Shannon StemperâÄôs second homer of the season to give Minnesota a 4-0 lead in the first game. But Minnesota ace Briana Hassett could not shut down the eight-time national champions Arizona for long, as the Wildcats touched her for eight hits and 10 earned runs. Arizona defeated the Gophers 10-4 in the first game, and BarnesâÄô opposite field homer in the first inning was one of the few highlights in ArizonaâÄôs 20-3 tromping of Minnesota in the nightcap. But Hassett did not allow FridayâÄôs performance to affect her pitching Saturday, as the senior tossed a pair of complete game shutouts in MinnesotaâÄôs sweep of St. JosephâÄôs by scores of 8-0 and 5-0. âÄúShe made some adjustments on her strategy over the course of Saturday and Sunday, and it really paid off for her,âÄù Bernstein said of Hassett. The Gophers 8-0 win Saturday marked game No. 1,000 for Bernstein and Standering at Minnesota, as the pair has coached together since 1992. Hassett pitched a four-hit shutout and was assisted by five Hawks errors as Minnesota took the first game against St. JosephâÄôs, and the senior struck out 11 to pace the Gophers in the nightcap. After a single by Sammie Howard in the third inning of the second game, Barnes connected on a first pitch offering for her second homer of the weekend to give Minnesota a 3-0 advantage. Sophomore shortstop Brianna SudengaâÄôs two-run home run in the bottom of the sixth plated the final runs of the game. And to make it three shut-outs in a row the Gophers, Hassett struck out 10 in MinnesotaâÄôs 1-0 win against Creighton on Sunday. âÄúAfter Friday we needed that,âÄù Bernstein said of the last three wins. âÄúItâÄôs all kind of coming together for us.âÄù