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U splits Big Ten road games

Minnesota won and lost games against both Michigan State and Northwestern.

A regulation softball game is seven innings, and Minnesota’s softball team tried to make full use of all 21 outs over the weekend.

The Gophers used late rallies to win two games but could not get timely hitting in two losses.

Minnesota (24-13, 5-3 Big Ten) won the first game of the two-game series against Michigan State on Friday taking a 2-1 decision before falling 5-2 on Saturday.

The Gophers then split a double header against Northwestern on Sunday winning game one 2-1 and losing 4-0 in game two.

“We had a good weekend, we played some good ball,” co-coach Julie Standering said. “We (just) ran out of innings.”

It was the first time since March 14 that Minnesota had been shut out, and the fifth time this season.

“Offensively we had a lot of opportunities,” sophomore Valerie Alston said. “(We just) didn’t get the key hit when we needed it.”

Against Northwestern, Alston hit her first career home run, a solo shot in the top of the seventh inning in the first game to give the Gophers the win.

In the second game Minnesota stranded six runners and only mustered three hits against a strong pitching performance by Eileen Canney for the Wildcats.

“If we could play all day we’d get to (the pitcher),” Alston said. “Unfortunately, we only get seven innings.”

Overall, the Gophers stranded 11 runners against the Wildcats. Minnesota struck out 17 times in the two games while only drawing three walks.

Against Michigan State, Minnesota batted .216 as a team. The Gophers left nine runners on base in the two games and struck out nine times, while failing to draw a single free pass.

Minnesota scored the winning run in Friday’s game in the sixth inning, and scored its only runs on Saturday in the sixth and seventh innings.

“We didn’t take advantage of certain situations,” junior Stephanie Sward said. “We didn’t use our strengths to our advantage.”

Against the Spartans, Minnesota was 7-17 from the plate in the last two innings and 4-35 combined in the first five innings of both games.

Minnesota scored five of its six runs in the last two innings over the weekend.

Standering said her club will work on base running and improving their short game.

“We definitely controlled the second half of ballgames,” Standering said. “We didn’t get that one hit that sparked momentum.”

Senior ace Piper Marten went 2-1 on the weekend moving her record to 16-7 on the season.

The Farmington, N.M., native pitched 16.1 innings, allowing 17 hits, four runs (two earned), striking out 16 and walking four.

Junior Lyn Peyer put in 11.2 innings of work, going the distance in game two on Sunday, absorbing the loss and moving her record to 4-5 on the season.

Peyer allowed 17 hits and seven runs (six earned), while striking out 13 and allowing eight free passes.

The Gophers make their outdoor home debut at Jane Sage Cowles Stadium on Wednesday. The double header against Concordia-St. Paul will mark the end of 22-straight road games.

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