Minn. sweeps NDSU in exhibition doubleheader

A week after sweeping St. Cloud State, the Gophers softball team returned to action Oct. 8 to come away with a win against North Dakota State.

by Betsy Helfand

The Gopher softball team returned to action Oct. 8 and came away with 4-3 and 8-3 wins over North Dakota State.

The sweep came a week after sweeping St. Cloud State in their first exhibition doubleheader of the year Sept. 30.

Minnesota struck early in the third inning of the first game on catcher Kari DorleâÄôs bases-clearing double after NDSU pitcher Whitney Johnson walked the bases loaded.

âÄúIt felt really good to finally get some runs on the board,âÄù Dorle said. âÄúComing through with the double off the wall felt really good. It just put us in the lead, and kind of let us know that we got this game.âÄù

NDSU scored its first run in the fifth inning with a bases-loaded groundout off of starting pitcher Sara Moulton.

That was the only run allowed by Moulton, last yearâÄôs Big Ten Freshman of the Year. Moulton pitched five innings and gave up one run on two hits with eight strikeouts.

The Gophers responded in the bottom of the fifth with a run of their own on a single by first baseman Alex Davis.

Freshman pitcher Kelsey Kimminau gave up two sixth-inning runs, but recovered in the seventh, locking down a 4-3 victory for the Gophers.

In the second game, Minnesota scored two runs early when the Bison committed two errors on a sacrifice bunt attempt.

Kelsey Klucas scored from first on the play, and left fielder Dannie Skrove, who laid down the bunt, also scored.

The Gophers put up another run on Kaitlyn RichardsonâÄôs single in the bottom of the third, and another in the fourth inning when Bree Blanchette hit a bases-loaded triple.

Minnesota scored two more runs in the fifth inning to push the score to 8-0.

Moulton put in her second shining performance of the day, allowing just two hits and striking out six batters in four innings of work. 

âÄúMoulton did a good job. SheâÄôs a very good pitcher,âÄù head coach Jessica Allister said. âÄúShe had a great year last year and she should expect to come out and dominate, and I think she did a pretty good job today.âÄù

Kimminau pitched the last three innings and gave up three runs on five hits, all of which came in the seventh inning.

Despite KimminauâÄôs seventh-inning struggles, she earned AllisterâÄôs praise after the game.

âÄúI think sheâÄôs ironing out some wrinkles and I think she came back really hard and got herself out of a jam,âÄù Allister said.

Taking exhibition games seriously is one way that the team improves upon its mistakes, Dorle said.

âÄúWe donâÄôt look at these games as exhibition games; we look at these games as if they were season games,âÄù Dorle said. âÄúWe take advantage of these opportunities where we get to face other teams and use them to the best of our ability to prepare for the season.âÄù

Said Allister: âÄúAs a team, we learned that we need to take care of some details, but to make some of the mistakes we made and still come out with two wins means that weâÄôre doing some things really well.âÄù

Exhibition games also serve as an opportunity for coaches to test out players in new positions all over the field.

âÄúWe try people at different positions to see how theyâÄôre going to react,âÄù Allister said. âÄúWe have seven freshmen and one newcomer, so at one point today our entire infield was newcomers.âÄù