U loses, could be done for season

Michael Rand

Much like an author struggling to find the right descriptive word, members of the Gophers softball team have spent the last two and a half weeks hoping they would break out of their offensive slump.
After 12 frustrating games, Minnesota had one final series to erase its bad memories. The Gophers entered the weekend knowing that even through all of their struggles, they could still make the Big Ten tournament by sweeping Purdue.
“We know what we have to do,” Gophers coach Lisa Bernstein-O’Brien said before the series. “We’re going to go out and play our game, and we should be in good shape.”
The outcome, however, was the same. They wrote the cursed sentence one more time: “It was a dark and stormy night.”
The Gophers couldn’t get their bats going again and lost two of three games at Purdue this weekend — a 2-0 win sandwiched between 2-0 and 3-2 losses. As a result, they will be staying at home next weekend when Iowa hosts the conference tournament.
Minnesota fell behind in the first inning of game one when Purdue’s Jenny Schoen hit a two-run homer. As it turned out, Schoen’s blast accounted for the game’s only runs. Minnesota mustered just three hits in the game, and the loss officially eliminated the Gophers from the race for the fourth and final spot in the Big Ten tourney.
The Gophers (37-19, 10-13 in the Big Ten) rebounded to win game two of Saturday’s doubleheader 2-0 behind seven shutout innings from Steph Klaviter and a two-run double by Amber Hegland. The Boilermakers (41-23, 14-10) rallied for a 3-2 win in Sunday’s game by scoring two runs in the bottom of the seventh inning.
The No. 5 through No. 9 hitters in the Gophers’ lineup, who were instrumental in the team’s sweep of Ohio State last weekend, went a combined 1-for-36 against Purdue.
Dating back to an April 16 doubleheader split at Northwestern, the Gophers scored just 29 runs in their final 15 Big Ten games. During that critical stretch, the team went 5-10.
Minnesota finished second in the Big Ten last season and received a bid to the NCAA regional tournament. But unless the Gophers receive an invitation to the regionals when bids are announced Sunday — something that has never happened to a Big Ten team that didn’t qualify for the conference tournament — their season is over.

SATURDAY (GAME ONE)
Gophers 000 000 0 — 0 3 1
Purdue 200 000 x — 2 3 0
Min — Johnson, Klaviter (2) and Bartholmey; Pur — Scheve and Denny. W — Scheve, 24-7. L — Johnson, 9-10. HR — Schoen, 6. A — 125.
SATURDAY (GAME TWO)
Purdue 000 000 0 — 0 3 0
Gophers 200 000 0 — 2 5 1
Pur — Scheve, Martino (2) and Denny; Min — Klaviter and Bartholmey. W — Klaviter, 16-3. L — Scheve, 24-8. A — 125.

SUNDAY’S SUMMARY
Gophers 100 001 0 — 2 7 1
Purdue 010 000 2 — 3 12 0
Min — Logue, Klaviter (2) and Bartholmey; Pur — Scheve and Denny. W — Scheve, 25-8. L — Klaviter, 16-4. A — 235.

Gophers hitting statistics (3 games)
AB R H RBI
Nelson 8 1 4 0
Peters 8 2 3 0
Hegland 9 1 3 2
Beeler 9 0 4 2
Sbrocco 9 0 0 0
Fox 8 0 1 0
Bartholmey 8 0 0 0
Halvorson 5 0 0 0
Midthun 6 0 0 0
Brophy 1 0 0 0
Ballard 1 0 0 0
Totals 72 4 15 4