With Piper Marten – Minnesota softball’s career leader in wins, strikeouts and complete games – having graduated in spring, the Gophers had big shoes to fill in the pitching circle this year.
Those shoes were filled just fine by senior Lyn Peyer Wednesday.
Peyer threw a complete game one-hit shutout in Minnesota’s season opener against Division II Concordia-St. Paul, leading Minnesota to a 2-0 victory at the Metrodome.
Peyer tied a career high with 13 strikeouts and walked one over seven innings.
“Lyn Peyer did an excellent job,” co-coach Lisa Bernstein said. “She kept their hitters off balance with her off-speed and her tight, fast, hard-in screwball.”
Peyer ran into her biggest jam of the game in the top of the sixth with Minnesota holding a 1-0 lead.
With two outs, she walked Concordia pinch hitter Mallory Olson and hit opposing pitcher Kristen Schmidt with a pitch. A wild pitch advanced both runners into scoring position, but Peyer was able to get out of the inning unscathed when cleanup hitter Nikki Smith popped out to shallow right-center field.
“Even when I did get a little tired, my defense was playing great behind me,” Peyer said. “I was just trying to hit my spots and get easy ground balls.”
Peyer got all the run support she would need in the bottom of the second when second baseman Melissa Murnane hit a solo home run to center on a 3-1 pitch to give Minnesota the 1-0 lead.
“I’ve played with (Schmidt) on the same team, so I kind of know her pitching style,” Murnane said. “But a 3-1 pitch, that’s the one to drive.”
The Gophers added an insurance run in the last half of the sixth when sophomore catcher Megan Higginbotham scored left fielder Lindsey Erickson from second with a single to left, giving Minnesota a 2-0 lead.
Friday, the competition will stiffen for Minnesota as it begins the Metrodome Softball Classic with a doubleheader against Wisconsin-Green Bay at 4:30 pm and Western Illinois at 7 p.m.
The round-robin tournament also features Drake, Northern Iowa and Tulsa and continues through Sunday.
Bernstein said the game Wednesday, although against a Division II opponent, provided a good starting point for the season.
“A ‘W’ is always a good place to start,” she said. “We’ve got a big weekend ahead of us, and we’re going to hopefully carry this into our future.”