Softball splits double dip at Northern Iowa

Michael Dougherty

Thanks to two convincing wins over Northern Iowa in mid-February, the Gophers softball team headed to Cedar Falls, Iowa, fairly certain it would wind up with a sweep of Wednesday’s doubleheader.
But the Panthers were not willing to hand over the twin-bill, as they won the first game 3-2.
Minnesota (37-15) salvaged a split, however, as the teams needed eight innings to settle the second game.
The 21st-ranked Gophers rallied for one run in the top of the seventh to send game two into extra innings. Then in the top of the eighth they scored two more to win 5-3.
Gophers shortstop Shannon Beeler broke out of a recent slump, going 4-for-7 in the two games with four RBIs, two runs scored and one home run.
Fellow infielder Amber Hegland had been carrying the offense while Beeler’s bat was napping. The third baseman was hitting .459 entering the doubleheader, but her 0-for-3 performance in game one hurt any chances the Gophers had to win the game.
After the Gophers scored two runs in the top of the third on a double by Beeler, the Bulldogs responded with a big inning of their own.
With the bases loaded and one out, Hegland misplayed a ground ball, allowing a run to score. The next batter singled to center, driving in two runs.
Hegland came to the plate in both the fifth and seventh innings with a runner in scoring position, but failed to bring home the tying run.
Wendy Logue pitched six innings of six-hit ball, but took the loss despite only giving up two earned runs.
The Panthers (18-19) jumped out to a one run lead in the first inning of game two, but Beeler tied the game up in the third with her ninth homer of the year.
After both teams scored a run in the fourth inning, Northern Iowa took the lead in the fifth thanks to a Gophers error.
With two out catcher Erin Brophy made a throwing error on a play at first, which allowed the runner to move to second. That runner then scored when the next batter doubled to center field.
But Brophy would make up for her error in the seventh inning with an RBI double that sent the game into extra innings.
In the top of the eight Beeler and Hegland each had an RBI as they provided the winning margin. Logue pitched 1 2/3 innings of relief for her 17th win.
The Gophers come home for one day and then resume Big Ten play with a three-game series at Indiana this weekend.