MINNESOTA'S PIPER AGAIN TOO MUCH FOR HOOSIERS TO HANDLE IN 2-1 GOPHERS WIN
Bloomington, Ind. - For the Hoosiers, attempting to make contact with pitches from Minnesota junior hurler Piper Marten was like trying to swat at a flea with a swizzle stick. After striking out 16 in a complete game 3-1 victory over the Hoosiers on Friday afternoon, Marten (11-7) relieved starter Angie Recknor in the second inning of today's contest and allowed no hits in 5 2/3 innings pitched to help lead the Golden Gophers (22-10-1, 2-2 Big Ten) to a 2-1 victory over the Hoosiers (14-16, 0-4). Marten did not allow a ball to be hit out of the infield and struck out 10 IU batters, while walking only one.
Senior rightfielder Veronica Roberts recorded run-scoring singles in both the bottom of the fourth and sixth innings - both times following intentional walks to third baseman Jordanne Nygren - to account for both Minnesota runs.
"We outplayed them in both games but one player beat us," said first-year head coach Sara Hayes of Marten. "Heather Stillians pitched wonderfully for us today. Our effort in both games is exactly what we are looking for. We just have to make more plays."
Stillians (7-8) allowed six hits and only one earned run in six innings pitched, while walking five and striking out one.
After taking 6 1/3 innings to record a hit in yesterday's contest vs. Minnesota, it didn't take long for the Hoosiers to get in the hit column today as junior first baseman Valerie White led off the top of the first inning with a single to leftfield off of Recknor. Yet, the Hoosier baserunner was picked off first base. Recknor entered the game with a 10-3 record and a 1.06 earned run average but allowed three hits and one run (none earned) in 1 1/3 innings pitched.
Indiana, which was the visiting team in today's game, took a 1-0 lead in the top of the second inning when Minnesota leftfielder Stephanie Sward failed to handle a tailing liner off of the bat of IU sophomore second baseman Ashley Griffiths. Junior Kristine Dugan , who had pinch run for junior Dawn Ramynke following a single to lead off the inning, scored on the play. Dugan had advanced to third on a well-executed bunt by senior centerfielder Katie Joy. Following the error by Sward and an infield single by freshman Abby Page that loaded the bases, Marten replaced Recknor in the circle. Marten retired nine of the first ten IU hitters she faced on strikes prior to walking pinch hitter Lauren Hines with two outs in the sixth. Four IU hitters, over the final 1 1/3 innings, could only muster a popout, strikeout, and two groundouts.
With the game tied 1-1 through 5 1/3 innings, Minnesota added a lone run in the bottom of the sixth inning to clinch the victory. With one out, Thul doubled over Page's head in rightfield. It looked as if the freshman from North Central High School in Indianapolis had an opportunity to catch the ball while in full stride but she could not track it down. After Allie Fisk pinch ran for catcher Anne Thul, she advanced to third base on a sacrifice bunt by Andrea Smith. Now with two outs, Hayes decided to intentionally walk Nygren for the second time and Roberts again delivered, as she singled to right to score Fisk with the eventual game-winning run.
Minnesota had tied the game, 1-1, with a single run in the bottom of the fourth inning.
First baseman Valerie Alston singled but was retired at second on a failed sacrifice bunt attempt by Lindsey Erickson, who reached on the fielder's choice. After Stillians struck out Thul for the second out of the inning, Smith reached on an error when Heather Suca failed to handle a grounder at short. Erickson advanced to third on Suca's error and Stillians intentionally walked Nygren to load the bases. Roberts followed with a sharply hit single to center that scored Erickson with the game-tying run. The Gophers left the bases loaded as Stillians retired Nanchy on a ground out to end the inning.
IU diver and 2000 Olympian Sara Hildebrand, a native of Roseville, Minn., threw out today's first pitch.
Indiana returns to the IU Softball Field at noon on Sunday when it hosts Wisconsin for a doubleheader.