Doubleheader against Cyclones rescheduled

Michael Rand

Continued bad weather has forced the Gophers softball team to adjust its schedule once again for this week’s games.
Minnesota, which had the last game of its series with Indiana cancelled Sunday, postponed its scheduled Tuesday home doubleheader with Iowa State. The tentative make-up date is Apr. 24 at the Bierman Sports Complex.
In addition, the Gophers changed the time and location of their Wednesday doubleheader with Northern Iowa. The first game will begin at 2 p.m. at the Rice and Arlington Sports Dome in St. Paul.
Minnesota’s home series against Penn State this weekend is unchanged. Saturday’s doubleheader begins at 1 p.m. and Sunday’s single game starts at noon.
Needs a little work
After Rachel Nelson’s two-run double in the bottom of the seventh inning gave Minnesota a 3-2 win over Mankato State on Wednesday, it appeared there was little she could do for an encore against Indiana.
But after striking out in her first at bat of Saturday’s doubleheader, the senior from Good Thunder, Minn., collected hits in her next five at bats. Included in that streak was her first home run of the year — a grand slam that capped Minnesota’s eight-run first inning in game one.
In game two, Nelson had three singles and a walk, and scored all four times she was on base. In the doubleheaders against Mankato State and Indiana, she went a combined 10-for-13 and earned Big Ten Player of the Week honors.
“I’m seeing the ball well,” Nelson said.
Nelson, a two-time All-American, has steadily improved her batting average throughout her career. She hit .365 as a freshman, .380 as a sophomore and .415 as a junior. After the Indiana series, she was batting .454, tops on the Gophers’ team.
Her hot hitting is no surprise to anyone, particularly Minnesota coach Lisa Bernstein-O’Brien.
“Yeah, she’s not that good,” Bernstein-O’Brien said with a laugh. “She has a few things to work on.”
Johnson also honored
Senior Jennifer Johnson was named the Big Ten’s Pitcher of the Week after posting a 2-0 record in starts against Mankato State and Indiana.
Johnson pitched a total of 11 innings for the week, allowing just six hits and one run. She improved her record to 6-5 while lowering her ERA to 1.71.
On the other hand
While Johnson and the rest of the Gophers pitching staff was impressive during the weekend, Indiana’s hurlers struggled.
Teresa Martinez, who entered Saturday’s doubleheader with a 1.09 ERA, gave up 11 runs (seven earned) in two innings. Jessica Creith, who had a 1.66 ERA prior to the series, didn’t fare much better, giving up 10 runs (seven earned) in seven innings.
“Their pitching wasn’t the top we’ve seen this year,” Nelson said.
Extra innings
ù The Gophers were ranked No. 14 in the latest USA Today/National Fastpitch Softball Coaches poll.
ù Nelson’s current batting average of .454, while impressive, is nowhere near the Minnesota record for highest average in a season. That honor goes to Shelly Medernach, who in 1976 hit .540.
ù The Gophers have scored eight or more runs nine times this season while only giving up more than eight on one occasion.