Gophers sweep Wisconsin-Green Bay in doubleheader

Chris Lempesis

With a pair of top-25 teams coming to town this weekend, Minnesota’s softball team hoped the middle of the week would provide a confidence boost.

It did.

The Gophers swept their Wednesday doubleheader with Wisconsin-Green Bay at Jane Sage Cowles Stadium. Minnesota (18-16, 1-3 Big Ten) won the first game 3-0 before picking up a 6-2 win in the nightcap.

“We got a lot of kids in the lineup today,” co-coach Lisa Bernstein said. “We got some different people some opportunities.”

The bottom of the sixth inning and starting pitcher Lyn Peyer were the difference for the Gophers in the first game.

Minnesota’s three runs were all scored in the bottom of the sixth.

Leading 1-0, the Gophers got their final two runs of the inning courtesy of some poor Phoenix (7-10) defense and a little trickery.

With the bases loaded and two outs, the Phoenix saw the Gophers’ Rachel Keeney slip on her lead off from second base and thought it had an easy pickoff. The Phoenix’s Andrea Kursynske threw down to second in an attempt to get Keeney out. However, Keeney got up, and the Phoenix’s attempt to throw her out at third didn’t work.

Third baseman Katie Groshek dropped the throw, allowing Keeney to reach home plate and give the Gophers a 3-0 lead. Megan Higginbotham had scored from third on the throw to second to give Minnesota a 2-0 lead.

While it looked like the Gophers lucked out on the play, luck had little to do with it.

“It’s actually a set play,” Keeney said. “We do that to make the catcher make the throw.

“It’s a lot of acting. People think I’m a klutz, but really it’s a set play.”

Those three runs were enough for Peyer. She allowed just two hits while striking out five and walking none in earning the shutout, her fourth of the year.

“All of (my pitches) were kind of doing the job they were supposed to do,” Peyer said. “We got them out on a lot of different pitches – on screwballs, and curveballs, and change-ups.”

Minnesota didn’t wait nearly as long to get the lead in the second game. The Gophers got a two-run single from Keeney in the bottom of the first to go up 2-0.

In the bottom of the third, Higginbotham drove in a run, and Keeney scored when Phoenix shortstop Jenna Woepse and left fielder Anna Nieznanski bumped into each other while fielding Melissa Murnane’s fly ball.

The Phoenix was able to cut the Gophers lead to 4-2 in the top of the fourth but would get no closer. Minnesota scored runs in both the fifth and sixth innings to solidify the final score.