For better or for worse, the growing pains have already set in for the Minnesota softball team through the season’s first two weeks.
The Gophers were shut out three times and lost four of their five games at the Florida Atlantic “Kick-Off” Classic this weekend.
Minnesota (4-7) scored just three runs all weekend and left an average of six runners on base in the five games.
“We’re getting put in some different situations, and we’re learning through them,” co-head coach Lisa Bernstein said. “We got a lot of little tests and challenges, and we were victorious in some and not so victorious in others, but we’ve got a hard-working group, a resilient group.”
After scoring just one run in four games, Minnesota scored twice in the first inning of Sunday morning’s fifth-place game in Boca Raton, Fla. But a four-run sixth inning by Pittsburgh was too much for the Gophers to overcome in a 4-2 loss.
The Gophers’ only run in the first four games of the weekend gave them a 1-0 win over Ole Miss on Friday.
Minnesota earned its third walk-off victory of the season by capitalizing on two Rebels errors in the bottom of the seventh inning. Gophers senior shortstop Abby Rehberger scored from second base when Rebels shortstop Lauren Grill made an errant throw on a two-out single by Gophers sophomore center fielder Dannie Skrove.
Freshman pitcher Lacey Middlebrooks allowed just three hits and struck out nine batters in her first career shutout. Middlebrooks has all four of the team’s wins this season, but she was on the other end of a pitching duel in a 1-0 loss to Kentucky on Saturday.
She said she loves being in pitching duels, which will benefit her later in her career.
“I would rather have those games that challenge me as a pitcher,” Middlebrooks said. “I wouldn’t trade those for any [other games].”
Though the team didn’t put much on the scoreboard, the Gophers had 15 hits in the final two games after managing just nine in the first three.
“We’re hitting the ball throughout the lineup,” Bernstein said.
Bernstein said the tough weekend was still good for the team.
“These were great games,” Bernstein said.
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