HANSON'S SOLO BLAST IN BOTTOM OF SEVENTH ENDS PIPER'S NO-HIT BID Minnesota Hurler K's 16
Bloomington, Ind. - In Minneapolis last spring, then-sophomore Piper Marten limited the Hoosiers to only two hits during a complete-game 8-0 shutout. With both singles coming off of the bats of now graduated seniors Brooke Monroe and Monique Bullock, no current Hoosier had ever notched a hit against the Minnesota hurler entering today's Big Ten tilt at the IU Softball Field. Through 6 1/3 innings this afternoon, it looked as if the dominating righthander would keep her streak alive.
However, with one out in the bottom of the seventh inning, and only two outs removed from a potential no-hitter, IU senior catcher Stormy Hanson deposited a Marten delivery over the leftfield fence to end the no-hit bid and ruin what looked to be a sure-fire shutout. Hanson's solo blast wasn't enough as the Hoosiers (14-15 overall, 0-3 Big Ten) lost, 3-1.
Regardless of the one mistake to Hanson, Marten (10-7) was virtually flawless in the circle for the Gophers (21-10-1, 1-2 Big Ten). In the seven inning complete game, she threw 77 pitches, only 13 of which were balls. She did not allow a walk and struck out 16 IU hitters.
Marten struck out seven of the first eight hitters she faced, with only Hanson grounding out to shortstop in the first and freshman Abby Page reaching on an error and advancing to second on a stolen base in the bottom of the third. The Minnesota pitcher then retired four of the next six hitters on strikeouts, with a lazy ground out and a fly ball in foul territory accounting for the other two outs. After a soft line out and two strikeouts in the sixth, she opened the seventh with another strikeout before Hanson's blast ended her no-hit bid. She struck out freshman Lauren Hines for the second-to-last out of the game and ended the contest on a fly ball to left field by junior Abby Stark.
"She's a dominant pitcher," said Indiana first-year head coach Sara Hayes. "She has amazing movement on her pitches and she's going to come after you."
It isn't if Marten hasn't turned in this type of performance against many other teams. An All-Region pitcher last spring when she threw four no-hitters, including two perfect games, she has now struck out 157 opponent hitters in 113 innings in 2003.
Indiana countered with a solid pitching performance by junior Heather Stillians (7-7), who allowed seven hits and three earned runs in five innings pitched, while walking one and striking out four. Freshman Megan Roark worked the final two innings in relief and did not allow a hit, while walking two and striking out one.
"We came out with the intensity and desire to win," said Hayes. "Our staff has been seeking that type of approach and we were impressed with the manner and passion that we competed today. In that regard, we are beginning to hit our stride."
Minnesota garnered a 1-0 lead in the top of the second inning when senior second baseman Shelly Nichols led off the inning with a solo blast to rightcenter. Later in the inning, sophomore Valerie White made a beautiful diving catch on a sacrifice bunt that staved off a rally and kept the Gophers within striking distance.
Stillians followed Piper's lead in the top of the fourth inning as she retired three consecutive Minnesota hitters on strikes but two additional Golden Gophers runs in the top of the fifth essentially put the game out of reach. With one out in the fifth, Marten helped her own cause with a bloop single. After Rachel Keeney pinch ran for the Minnesota pitcher, Nygren gounded out to third but the Minnesota runner advanced to third on the play. With two outs, rightfielder Veronica Roberts singled to score Keeney from third with the second run of the game. Roberts later scored on a double to rightcenter by first baseman Hailee Nanchy that pushed the Gopher lead to 3-0.
Hanson's home run in the bottom of the seventh inning was her seventh of the season and marked the third consecutive game that she has hit a solo home run.
Indiana returns to the IU Softball Field on Saturday at noon when it again faces Minnesota in Big Ten play.