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Gophers softball wins 3rd straight Big Ten series

Minnesota takes two of three games in East Lansing over the weekend, improving to 6-6 in conference play.
The Gophers will take on the Wisconsin Badgers next starting Wednesday.

Minnesota softball was back in action on Friday and Saturday, taking on Michigan State for a three-game series in East Lansing. Following their impressive series win against Indiana, the Gophers dropped a game to the Spartans, who sit dead last in the Big Ten.

Natalie DenHartog had an amazing weekend going 6/11 at the plate with 2 home runs and 3 RBIs. Those 2 homers place her alone as the Big Ten’s second all-time home runs leader with 67 in her career.

April 14

The Gophers dominated in Game 1 of the series against the Spartans. The scoring began in the second inning when Minnesota put up 7 runs.

DenHartog hit the record-securing home run in the second inning, number 66 in her career. This homer put her ahead of Rachel Lewis (NU 2018-22), who had 65.

Jess Oakland produced a solid day at the plate, going 3/5, scoring twice and getting an RBI. However, Oakland was outshined by DenHartog, who went an incredible 4/5 at the dish with 2 HRs and 3 RBIs.

Bri Enter posted an impressive relief performance going five innings, striking out five and only allowing 1 run on three hits.

After adding 5 more runs in the top of the seventh inning, Minnesota cruised past Michigan State in Game 1. The first game of the series finished 13-1.

April 15

The final two games were played on Saturday in a doubleheader at Secchia Stadium.

In the first game, the Gophers were dominant from the beginning once again. Sydney Strelow started it off with an RBI double that scored Kayla Chavez. It was followed by a single into center field by DenHartog that scored Strelow, making it 2-0 in the top of the first.

Autumn Pease had another great outing in the circle going six innings, allowing no runs on four hits with six strikeouts. Enter closed it out in the seventh inning, combining with Pease to toss a shutout.

Minnesota added 3 insurance runs in the fifth, extending their lead to 5-0. Thanks to the great pitching from the Gopher staff, Minnesota took Game 2 to win the series.

The final game of the series saw the Gophers again jump out to an early lead. This time it was Chavez opening the scoreline with a solo home run on the game’s second pitch.

The Gophers scored twice in the first inning, but that would be all the offense they could muster.

Michigan State answered with 2 runs in the third inning on a 2-run double from Brooke Snyder.

Trouble fielding the ball ultimately cost Minnesota the game in the bottom of the seventh. A ball hit on the ground off the bat of Anna Fox bounced off Strelow’s glove and gave the Spartans a walk-off win.

Michigan State won it 3-2 and took the final game of the series. Minnesota still won the series, but dropping a game to a subpar team like Michigan State does not help their postseason aspirations.

Next for Minnesota is a midweek doubleheader in Madison, Wisconsin, against the Badgers. The Border Battle will take place on Wednesday, starting at 3:00 p.m. CST at the Goodman Softball Complex.

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