Softball team shuts down Concordia twice

by Mark Heller

The premise behind bringing Concordia College of St. Paul to Minneapolis for a date with the Gophers softball team on Wednesday could be seen as a chance to get two local schools – one from division I and one from division II – to play against each other in hopes of drawing spectators.
That premise could have applied before the game. By the end of the game, there were two more ways to look at the Gophers 4-0 and 5-0 wins at the Minnesota softball stadium: Feasts for Jordanne Nygren and the Gophers’ pitching staff.
Nygren went back to Concordia’s buffet line twice, while Angie Recknor and Meagan Hautala enjoyed two near-all-you-can-get-out performances on the mound.
Given a chance to throw at home against a very good (24-8) division II Golden Bears squad, Recknor (23-23) scorched through Concordia’s lineup in game one. The freshman ace faced one batter over the minimum, throwing a one-hit, seven-inning complete game shutout.
By the time Recknor was finished, so was Nygren, and the Golden Bears. Minnesota’s sophomore sensation proved yet again that she can put up All-American productivity with Shannon Beeler gone. The second baseman smacked two home runs, her 12th and 13th of the season.
The first bomb crashed into one of the trees just beyond the left field fence, sending a slew of dust and pollen into the air. If the tree hadn’t stopped it, a 300-foot shot was within reach.
“I didn’t even watch it go out, I felt it go out,” Nygren siad. “That was one of those that felt really good. I just hit it and started jogging. If it stayed in I would have been in trouble.”
There was no “if” about her first shot. Her three-run dinger in the very next inning didn’t have the same velocity on its way out, but it cleared the center field wall with room to spare. Minnesota’s (29-24) 4-0 lead, courtesy of Nygren’s aluminum stick, was never challenged.
With 43 RBIs this season and 102 in just over a year and a half of collegiate softball, Nygren is the second Gopher to have 100 RBIs in her first two seasons. The other, of course, was Beeler.
“I didn’t know that,” she said. “Wow, that’s a lot. I guess that means I’m doing my job.”
Hautala (6-1) did her job in game two, holding Concordia to no runs on just six hits. The stats on the evening: 14 innings, seven hits, no runs and two walks by Minnesota’s freshmen pitching staff.
“I felt good out there. I was ready for this game,” said Hautala with ice packs consuming a large chunk of her right arm. “I threw a lot of curve balls and changeups to try and keep them off balance.”
Co-coach Lisa Bernstein raved about the performance of her pitching staff, but two wins against Concordia fails to fill the hole the Gophers are trying to dig out of to get one of six spots for the Big Ten tournament in two weeks.
Still, it was nice for Bernstein to see what she saw.
“We came out with two (wins), played some great defense and got some key hits,” she said. “Our pitchers hit their spots and got some key strikeouts. It’s a lot of fun when you’re pitching with a four or five-run lead.”

Mark Heller covers softball and welcomes comments at [email protected]