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Inexperienced squad goes 0-for-4 in season-opening tourney

The Gophers lost all four games at the Auburn Tournament in Alabama.

Youth usually correlates to inexperience. That might have cost Minnesota’s softball team four games this weekend at the Auburn Tournament.

The Gophers lost their last game of the five-game tournament set Sunday morning to North Carolina State, 4-1. They also lost one game Saturday to Centenary, 4-2 ” the other game against Miami of Ohio was cancelled because of to poor field conditions. On Friday, Minnesota lost to 17th-ranked Auburn, 7-0, and to Evansville, 8-1.

All four of North Carolina State’s runs came in the first inning, one of which featured some costly errors by Minnesota.

“Our first innings is where we struggled the most,” co-coach Lisa Bernstein said. “If we could have gotten through some first innings in all four of our ball games, they all would have been different.”

Two of North Carolina’s batters reached the plate on errors in the inning.

“Some of them were throwing errors and things like that,” Bernstein said. “Errors are going to happen. We have new personnel out there.”

Bernstein added that the team is working with a new infield and pitching staff. The Gophers started sophomore Megan Arns at third base and freshman Colleen Conway at shortstop. Furthermore, both of Minnesota’s starting pitchers are freshmen.

One of those freshmen, Briana Hassett, threw a complete game against the Wolfpack. She also threw a complete game in the 7-0 loss to Auburn on Friday.

Only three of the seven runs in the Auburn game were earned runs.

“They’re a good challenge for us,” Hassett said. “A good team like that really exposes your weaknesses.”

One of the weaknesses was the Gophers inability to muster hits against the Tigers.

Catcher Megan Higginbotham was the only Gophers player to get a hit in the game ” she finished with two. For the weekend, the junior had four hits and an RBI.

“I was seeing the ball well,” Higginbotham said.

“She had a nice weekend at the plate,” Bernstein said. “I know it wasn’t up to her expectations, or where she wants to be.”

Higginbotham’s only RBI came in the Gophers first game against Evansville. The junior was also behind the plate for freshman pitcher Katie Dalen, who started against Evansville and Centenary.

Dalen had four earned runs in three and two-thirds innings of work against Evansville and one inning of work against Centenary.

“Our pitching staff is young this year with our two starters,” Higginbotham said about Dalen and Hassett. “The more we work together, the more we’ll learn together.”

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