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“The Watchers” is a film adaptation of the 2022 book of the same name by A.M. Shine.
Review: “The Watchers”
Published June 13, 2024

Gophers softball falls to Illinois in home-opener series

Minnesota will look to bounce back against rival Iowa on the road next weekend.
Natalie Denhartog hits the ball on Friday, March 29 at Jane Sage Cowles Stadium in Minneapolis. The Gophers beat the Purdue Boilermakers 5-1.
Image by Tony Saunders
Natalie Denhartog hits the ball on Friday, March 29 at Jane Sage Cowles Stadium in Minneapolis. The Gophers beat the Purdue Boilermakers 5-1.

The Minnesota Gophers softball team lost two games out of three to the Illinois Fighting Illini this weekend to drop to 16-14-1 on the season.

Game One: Illinois 2, Gophers 1 (8 innings)

The Gophers began the game strong as Lauren Espalin knocked a double to left field, but was stranded in scoring position. Neither team managed to score in the first two frames. In the bottom of the third, Kayla Chavez scored from an Espalin single off of a 10-pitch at-bat. The Illini kept the Gophers to one run after Natalie DenHartog made the bases loaded with nobody out off of an intentional walk.

The Illini would eventually tie the game at 1 apiece in the top half of the sixth inning, hitting a one-out double and an RBI single. Autumn Pease would come in relief for Emily Leavitt who threw 60 pitches in 5.1 innings giving up one run on four hits. Pease would pitch into extra innings, and in the top of the eighth, Kelly Ryono hit a solo shot on a two-out, two-strike count to take a 2-1 lead. Minnesota would go down in order in the bottom half and Illinois would take game 1.

Game Two: Gophers 14, Illinois 6 (5 innings)

Minnesota rebounded in game two, hitting home a commanding 14 runs to end the game in 5 innings due to the NCAA softball run-rule. The Gophers increased their lead every inning they were at-bat with eleven different Minnesota players earning a hit and seven driving home runs. DenHartog, Sydney Strelow and Espalin all corked two-run home runs each to give the Gophers a commanding 6-run advantage after the first two innings.

Pease retired the entire Illinois lineup, recording nine straight outs to start the game. She would earn the win and is 9-8 on the season. The Gophers would finish the game strong, plating 7 runs home in the bottom of the third and adding one more to eventually win 14-6 at the conclusion of the fifth inning.

Game Three: Illinois 15, Gophers 5

The Fighting Illini closed out the series with a massive eight-run seventh inning to leave Minneapolis with a 2-1 season-series advantage over the Gophers.

The Gophers took the first lead in the bottom of the first as Makenna Dowell hit a 2-RBI single to make the game 2-0 Minnesota. Illinois would even, then double the Gophers’ two-run lead in the next two innings to come back up 4-2. The Gophers would be within two runs of the Illini going into the seventh inning, down 7-5, but Illinois would catch fire, scoring eight runs off of mostly singles and playing small ball to make the game out of reach, winning 15-5.

Before traveling to Iowa City to play the Hawkeyes next weekend, Minnesota will stay at home this week playing in a doubleheader on Wednesday against the Jackrabbits of South Dakota State. The first game will start at 3 p.m. at Jane Sage Cowles Stadium with the second played immediately after the first around 5 p.m.

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