Minnesota starts two-for-two in Metrodome Softball Classic twinbill

Matt Perkins

Teams just can’t seem to score this year against Minnesota’s softball team.

At least not yet.

Minnesota shut out Wisconsin-Green Bay 4-0 and Western Illinois 2-0 during its doubleheader in the Metrodome Softball Classic on Thursday.

The team’s next game is today at 4:30 p.m. when it faces Tulsa at the Metrodome.

The win over Western Illinois made this year the first time in the 32-year history of the program that Minnesota has started the season with three shutouts.

Stealing the show Thursday were sophomore Rene Konderik and freshman Katie Dalen.

Konderik, who went 6-2 for the Gophers last season in 17 appearances, pitched a complete-game shutout against the Phoenix. It was the second of her career and the second in two games for Gophers pitching.

Even after an impressive performance, Konderik said the pitching staff still has room for improvement.

“There are a couple of things we’ve still got to work on,” she said. “We’re very versatile. All four of us are completely different, so people can expect a different pitcher every day.”

Co-coach Julie Standering echoed Konderik’s sentiments about the importance of a complete Gophers pitching staff.

“They’re pretty young,” she said. “(Senior) Lyn (Peyer) is our experience, and the youth is doing a good job.”

“Good job” might be an understatement when it comes to Dalen.

Dalen gave up just one hit and two walks in 5 2/3 innings of work, while striking out seven. It was her first start with the Gophers, and she said her teammates didn’t let her down.

“I hit my spots,” Dalen said. “And I went in there thinking I just needed to hit my spots and let the defense do the work.”

The defense came through for Dalen in the second game of the doubleheader, diving and jumping to take away would-be hits after committing three errors in the first game.

Minnesota lost one of the best pitchers in school history last year when Piper Marten graduated as the school record holder in wins, strikeouts, complete games, innings and appearances.

This year, the Gophers are looking to establish a pitching staff that can dominate as much as Marten did.

But Standering said it’s going to take more than just pitching to win this season.

Still, performances like Thursday’s will never hurt.

“It’s going to be a combination,” she said. “We need defense, hitting and the pitching area.”