Gophers Open NCAA Softball Tourney With a Win
Seattle, WA (Gophersports.com) - The No. 19/15 University of Minnesota Gophers topped North Dakota State University 7-2 in the NCAA Regionals on Friday. The wins ties a program record for longest win streak in a season with 15 straight dating back to April 15.
"I am really proud of our team today. I thought we did a good job of battling back when we went down and sticking with it," head coach Jessica Allister said. "Sara played well in the circle, we played great behind her and we are excited to come out with a victory."
The Bison took the lead early but the Gophers used big fourth and fifth innings to break open the game. After a quick first inning NDSU hit a solo home run in the top of the second.
Sydney Fabian got things rolling in the third inning with a big double to left center. Sam Macken brought her home dropping an RBI single to right center tying up the game.
The Maroon and Gold forced a three up, three down in the top of the fourth and started to get their bats going taking the lead in the bottom of the inning.
Kayla Wenner stepped to the plate with two outs and ripped a single right up the middle. Sydney Dwyer brought her home smacking a double while advancing to third on an error. Dwyer was able to slide home on a wild pitch pushing the Gophers lead to 3-1 after four.
NDSU looked like they were going to punch right back loading the bases with no outs to start the fifth. Sara Groenewegen came through striking out the next three batters. She finished with 11 strikeouts and moves to an NCAA leading 31 wins with a 31-5 overall record.
"That was big time. I was impressed with her poise. She went through the toughest part of their lineup with the bases loaded in a tie ballgame," Allister said. "I thought she stayed present in the moment, I thought she made great pitches and that was absolutely a turning point in the game."
Danielle Parlich and Maddie Houlihan smacked back-to-back doubles early in the bottom of the fifth to score a run. Taylor LeMay placed a single to left right after bringing in another.
Paige Palkovich stepped up next and despite falling behind in the count 0-2 battled back to eventually launch a two run homer over the left field wall putting the Gophers up 7-1 after five.
Nikki Anderson pitched the final two innings. She forced NDSU to hit into a double play in the sixth as Parlich fielded and threw over to Dwyer who turned on it to complete the play to a stretching Houlihan at first. Anderson finished only allowing one hit that went for a home run in the final two innings.
Minnesota had 10 hits in the game with Parlich and Palkovich each recording two. They played errorless defense.
The Gophers will play at 3 p.m. Saturday against the winner of Washington-Weber State. If they win that they will move to Sunday and if they lose they will play a must win game later on Saturday.