Softball halts skid, but drops game two

Michael Dougherty

When a team is working its way through a hitting slump, it must get solid pitching and have the ability to manufacture runs in order to muster up some wins.
The Gophers softball team was successful in both facets Saturday, as it beat Penn State 4-2 in the first game of a doubleheader at University Park, Pa. Minnesota dropped game two 7-3, and Sunday’s finale was rained out.
The Gophers (34-14, 8-7 in the Big Ten) found themselves behind 2-1 in the top of the fifth inning of game one when Laura Peters and Steph Midthun each singled with one out.
Thanks to a player interference call on Midthun’s hit, the two each advanced a base, bringing Morgan Holden to the plate with a chance to give the Gophers the lead.
Fortunately for Minnesota, the freshman left fielder smacked a two-run single to center field, putting the Gophers up by one.
In the top of the seventh, Midthun again was part of the manufacturing machine. After the center fielder singled, she stole second and moved to third on a Penn State (16-23, 5-10) error.
Shortstop Shannon Beeler then came to the plate and drove Midthun in with a sacrifice fly.
“I was real pleased with the way we came back after we got down 2-1,” Gophers coach Lisa Bernstein-O’Brien said.
While the Gophers were innovatively scraping together runs, senior Wendy Logue was doing her part by providing solid pitching.
“We got very good pitching over the weekend,” Bernstein-O’Brien said. “Wendy Logue did an excellent job.”
Logue, who had lost two in a row after her 13-game winning streak was snapped, got back on track, allowing one earned run in five innings to boost her record to 15-4.
In the second game, the Lions took a page from the Gophers’ book on run production, as they put the game out of reach early.
“We had an inning where we fell apart and Penn State took advantage of some mental and physical errors,” Bernstein-O’Brien said.
The inning in question was the top of the third. With the score tied at 0-0, Penn State slapped Steph Klaviter around for six hits and pushed across six runs.
Three of those runs came on a controversial call after Beeler had made an error with the bases loaded.
The Gophers answered in their bottom half of the inning when Beeler hit a two-run double, atoning for her earlier error.
Amber Hegland followed with an RBI single, but that was all the Gophers could muster as Penn State’s Jaci Kelp no-hit them the rest of the way, leading the Lions to the win.
Despite the loss in the second game, Bernstein-O’Brien was happy to get her squad back in the win column after a five-game losing streak.
“I think this team is back on track,” she said. “We just need to put everything together on offense and defense, and have a better mental approach to the game.”
She said that her squad was regrouped and ready to take care of Penn State on Sunday, but the game was cancelled because of rain.
Minnesota travels to Des Moines, Iowa, for a doubleheader with Drake on Tuesday, and then heads to Cedar Falls, Iowa, for a two-game set with Northern Iowa on Wednesday.