Minnesota focuses on moving on from Wisconsin loss

With a 1-0 walk-off extra-inning win on Sunday against Penn State and a 4-0 win in the first game of a double-header with Wisconsin on Wednesday, the Minnesota softball team must have felt good about its chances with a 1-1 tie game going into the seventh inning of game two against the Badgers. But the Gophers hitters did not produce in the top of the seventh inning, and all it took was three Wisconsin singles in the bottom half of the inning for MinnesotaâÄôs momentum and chance for a winning streak to end. While the last single for the Badgers (13-33 overall, 2-10 Big Ten) came on a highly-contested bloop hit between first and second with two outs âÄì the Wisconsin runnerâÄôs head-first slide beating out Minnesota second baseman Sammie HowardâÄôs dive to first to tag the bag âÄì the Gophers (23-26, 6-8) are forced to put that game behind them and move onto the task at hand. âÄúYou really canâÄôt tell from the camera angle who got to the base first,âÄù Gophers co-head coach Lisa Bernstein said. âÄúIâÄôm disappointed in the play, but itâÄôs a judgment call and thereâÄôs nothing we can do about it.âÄù Luckily for Minnesota, the task at hand comes through a two-game series this weekend with the last-place team in the Big Ten in Michigan State with 1 p.m. games on Saturday and Sunday in Jane Sage Cowles Stadium. âÄúItâÄôs such a tough conference and the kids are getting a little tired,âÄù Bernstein said. The Spartans (15-24, 0-11) are an interesting matchup for the Gophers in the sense that the two teams strengths and weaknesses are opposite of one another. Michigan State was sitting dead last in the conference in team era (4.76) and team fielding (64 errors) coming into WednesdayâÄôs Big Ten games. Minnesota, on the other hand, is led by senior pitcher Briana HassettâÄôs (22-19) 1.82 era, while the Gophers have committed only 47 errors in 10 more games played than Michigan State. âÄúOur fielding has been excellent this season,âÄù Bernstein said. Against Wisconsin on Wednesday, Hassett held the Badgers to two total runs in the double-header, firing a one-hitter with nine strikeouts for her school-record tying 14th shutout of the season in the first game. The Eagan, Minn., native was never even threatened by Wisconsin in the first game, retiring the last seven batters of the game and allowing only one runner to reach second base. The second game featured another solid effort by Hassett, giving up one earned run and striking out seven batters to raise her season total to 371 âÄì which ranks second in NCAA Division I softball. âÄúBriana is a total team player,âÄù Bernstein said. âÄúHer goal when she leaves here is to leave behind a culture of excellence for her teammates.âÄù Offensively, however, Michigan State may have a slight edge over Minnesota this weekend. The Spartans come into the series with the Gophers boasting a .277 batting average, while MinnesotaâÄôs average is hovering well below that at .222. âÄúEven though the records may be a bit skewed, thereâÄôs nobody in the Big Ten thatâÄôs not going to put a good product on the field,âÄù Bernstein said. âÄúThat is for sure.âÄù