Coming off of a three-game losing streak, the Gophers softball team responded by sweeping a pair of nonconference double-headers, fueled by stellar pitching from Sara Moulton and Alissa Koch, who both threw one-hit shutouts Saturday.
Moulton first threw a 10-inning shutout against Iowa State on Thursday, then tossed another against South Dakota, racking up an incredible 28 strikeouts between the games.
“It feels great. Hopefully we can use this as motivation to get back into Big Ten play and come up with some wins next week,” Moulton said.
Minnesota’s other starter, Alissa Koch, defeated the Cyclones 11-3 and then came back with a 17-strikeout performance against South Dakota on Saturday.
When asked if one of the 17 stood out on the day, Koch thought for a moment before saying, “they were all good. It feels so nice to strike somebody out after a year of working so hard.”
Against Iowa State, Minnesota took the first game 1-0, with Kari Dorle supplying the lone RBI. Dorle had been in a bit of a slump before breaking out in the last four games, going 7-for-15.
Dorle also caught each game of the win streak for the Gophers, and was impressed with her pitchers’ domination.
“With all those strikeouts that Alissa and Sara both had, it was really fun, and looked really amazing,” she said.
The second game was a different story, as Minnesota piled up 11 runs on 12 hits to take the win 11-3. Koch threw a complete game, racking up eight strikeouts in just her second win of the year.
Minnesota had everything working for them Saturday against South Dakota. They never surrendered the momentum at home as they picked up their first two wins of the year at Jane Sage Cowles Stadium. Dorle and Dannie Skrove both hit home runs, but pitching was the focus of the day.
It’s hard to say who had the better day between Moulton and Koch. Moulton threw all seven innings, struck out 13, only let up one hit and didn’t walk a batter. Koch also threw seven and gave up one hit, struck out 17 and walked two.
“Sara and Alissa did a phenomenal job,” head coach Jessica Allister said after the games. “It’s easy to play defense when you’re striking out 13, 17 hitters.”
It was an important stretch for the Gophers, who had just dropped to 1-3 in the Big Ten the week before. They now have a little momentum heading into the second segment of their Big Ten schedule, which starts with a pair of games against Iowa on Wednesday.
Minnesota will be at home for a little while, not going on the road again until it faces Wisconsin April 20.
“We’ve come out and taken care of business in the last four games,” Allister said. “We’re excited to have Big Ten games here next week.”
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