Middlebrooks throws no-hitter as Gophers win 3 of 5

Minnesota shows it still has some growing to do in the young 2010 season.

Middlebrooks throws no-hitter as Gophers win 3 of 5

Marco LaNave

Freshman Lacey Middlebrooks pitched her first career no-hitter and led the Gophers softball team to three wins in five games at the Florida Gulf Coast Spring Break Invitational in Fort Myers, Fla., this weekend. Middlebrooks held Eastern Michigan hitless to earn her third win in as many days in a 4-0 victory that was shortened to five innings by rain on Saturday. âÄúHonestly, I didnâÄôt even know I had a no-hitter âĦ until after the game,âÄù said Middlebrooks, who pitched the programâÄôs first no-hitter since Briana Hassett (2006-09) pitched her second career no-hitter against Pittsburgh on Feb. 21, 2009. âÄúI think about each batter as they come up. âĦ ItâÄôs a big deal, but itâÄôs not that big of a deal to me.âÄù The tournament ended on a sour note for Middlebrooks and her teammates, however, as they lost 1-0 in eight innings to Connecticut on Sunday morning. The Huskies had only advanced one runner to scoring position with less than two outs before they had a runner on second base to start the bottom of the eighth because of a tiebreaker rule. The runner scored the game-winning run on a one-out single, just the third hit allowed by Middlebrooks. âÄúI hated that we didnâÄôt pull out that win,âÄù said Middlebrooks, who fell to 7-4 this season and has taken two of her four losses in 1-0 contests. âÄúBut at the same time you have to look at the positive side of it: We did a lot better this weekend on our hitting, on our defense.âÄù It was the fifth shutout loss in two weekends for the Gophers (7-9), who have also won three shutouts âÄî all by Middlebrooks âÄî in that time. MinnesotaâÄôs offense showed progress in three wins over host Florida Gulf Coast, Connecticut and Eastern Michigan. Of the Gophers’ 13 runs on the weekend, they had nine two-out RBIs, something co-head coach Lisa Bernstein had said the team would be seeking early in the season. Junior first baseman Malisa Barnes , who has batted leadoff since the last two games of a tournament the previous weekend, was 6-for-9 in the weekendâÄôs middle three games, including a three-double, three-RBI performance in three at-bats of a 6-0 win over Connecticut on Friday. Bernstein said Barnes was moved into the leadoff spot to get more at-bats and benefit from the bottom of the lineup putting runners on base. âÄú[Batting] leadoff, itâÄôs like a new insight âĦ IâÄôm the hitter that really makes things happen,âÄù Barnes said. âÄúEverybodyâÄôs been changing within [the lineup]. With each change within this team, weâÄôre improving each time we play.âÄù