Series victory produces third straight 30-win season

Minnesota took two of three games from Ohio State.

Drew Claussen

The Gophers softball team has won 30 games for the third straight season after taking two of three from Ohio State during the weekend.

It’s the first time since 2002-04 that the Gophers have won 30 games in three straight seasons. Minnesota has five games left in the regular season.

The turnaround is in sync with the hiring of Jessica Allister, who is in her third season as the Gophers’ head coach.

“It’s a reflection of the work that they’re putting in every day,” Allister said. “They’re feisty, and they’re competitive.”

Minnesota beat Ohio State 3-0 on Friday and 7-2 on Saturday before falling 14-6 on Sunday.

“Any time you can go on the road in the Big Ten and win the series, it’s a good weekend,” Allister said.

The Buckeyes held a 3-0 lead entering a rain delay Sunday. They scored four more times after the delay in the bottom of the third inning to take a 7-0 lead.

The Gophers, led by sophomore Erika Smyth’s three-run home run, responded with six runs in the fourth inning to cut the lead to one.

But Minnesota got no closer. Ohio State added runs in the fourth, fifth and sixth innings to lock up the win.

“We didn’t pitch very well, we didn’t play very good defense and we didn’t swing the bat so well,” Allister said. “It was a tough day; we’ve got to get two of those three things well to win.”

Minnesota broke out the bats Saturday en route to its 30th victory.

Sophomore Madie Eckstrom extended an early lead to 5-1 with a two-run home run in the top of the third inning.

Sara Moulton’s one-hitter highlighted Friday’s victory. The junior ace pitched all seven innings, walked two and struck out 11. Sophomore leadoff hitter Tyler Walker went 3-for-4 with two RBIs in the game.

“I think we played very well on Friday and Saturday,” Allister said. “We did a tremendous job of pitching, playing defense and getting timely hits.”

Allister said she thought Friday’s game was one of the team’s best showings of the season.

Moulton (26-9) earned the win in both of the Gophers’ victories this weekend.