Home openers are supposed to be scheduled so the host team will win. The Minnesota softball team was able to follow that rule with its home opener Tuesday.
The Gophers shut out Wisconsin-Green Bay in both games 9-0 and 3-0.
Minnesota’s plan was to keep ace Piper Marten out of the pitching circle by backing up Angie Recknor and Lyn Peyer with defense.
“Lyn and Angie knew exactly what their game plan was,” coach Lisa Bernstein said. “They executed and got ahead in the count.”
In game one, Recknor shut down the Green Bay batters, allowing only two hits in five innings.
Hits started for the Gophers in the third inning with Jordanne Nygren’s double to left-center. Hailee Nanchy drove in pinch runner Allie Fisk after a wild pitch advanced her to third with a single to center to score Minnesota’s first run.
The Gophers followed with four runs in both the fourth and fifth innings.
Leading off in the fourth, Anne Thul hit a single to start the rally. Valerie Alston hit a double to center to advance the runner, and freshman Lindsey Erickson drove them home with a single to right. Nygren tallied her ninth home run of the season in the fourth, bringing Erickson home with her.
Nanchy also hit a solo home run to lead off the fifth. Shelly Nichols followed with a walk and advanced on a wild pitch. Recknor got on base with a fielder’s choice and an error by pitcher Lisa Meissner.
Erickson hit a single to right and Stefanie Watt hit a hard triple to end the game, leaving two outs and one runner on base at the end of the game.
“These are the kind of games that you look forward to because you know that you’re going to get some great hits,” Nygren said.
In the second game, Peyer struck out seven and only allowed two hits in seven innings.
The game remained scoreless until the fourth inning when Veronica Roberts walked and then advanced on a wild pitch. Thul hit a triple to drive in Roberts. A single from Nichols brought Thul home for a two-run inning.
In the fifth Keeney hit a single to left and advanced on a wild pitch. Roberts’ triple to center drove in Keeney and wrapped up the scoring for the Gophers.
“We’re finally putting it all together,” Nanchy said.
With the right schedule, the Gophers’ offense, defense and pitching helped them stick with the overall plans for the season.
Marten named pitcher of the week
Piper Marten was named the Big Ten pitcher of the week, following her exceptional performances last week in road games at Drake, Indiana and Purdue.
Marten, a junior, dominated in the circle for the Gophers, going
4-0 with an astounding 52 strikeouts in 27.1 innings pitched. Marten started three games and came in relief in another to help the Gophers earn hard-fought wins against all three teams.
This is the fifth conference player/pitcher of the week honor for a Gopher and the second for Marten this season.
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