The University of Northern Iowa softball team dropped a pair of games to the Minnesota Golden Gophers at the Arizona State Little Wood Classic in Tempe, Ariz. Minnesota scored wins of 5-0 and 3-1 over the Panthers. UNI dropped to 3-6 on the season.
In game one the Panthers worked a couple of newcomers into the rotation with Abbie Van Vleet and Mackenzie Flaws. Van Vleet was given the start in the pitching circle. VanVleet got off to a bumpy start allowing a leadoff home run, but quickly settled in keeping the Gopher bats quiet. Van Vleet pitched three innings allowing two hits, three runs and struck out three. Flaws came in to relieve Van Vleet in the fourth. Flaws allowed three hits, two runs, one walk and struck out one.
At the plate the Panthers were unable to produce base runners throughout the duration of the game finding just one hit coming in the bottom of the seventh from junior first basemen Gina Brown. Brown connected on a hard-hit single to the pitcher. Brown’s single was all the offense UNI was able to produce as the Panthers fell to the Gophers in a 5-0 decision.
In game two, the Panthers showed similar struggles at the plate looking for a spark at the plate to build off of. Freshman shortstop Caitlin Wnek was able to find that spark sending a single to right field. Brown laid down a sacrifice bunt advancing Wnek to second. Kristin Lock took her turn at the plate connecting for a single of her own to right center field which led to a Gopher error allowing Wnek to get across the plate putting the Panthers on the board and tying the game at 1-1.
Junior pitcher Jamie Fisher got the start for UNI in game two. Fisher was looking to bounce back from the loss to Arizona State on Friday night and got to work early allowing just one hit in the first five innings. Fisher kept the Gopher bats quiet until the sixth inning hitting her second batter and eventually allowing the two-run homer. Fisher finished the night going six innings and allowing two hits, two runs and struck out 10.
UNI will take on Michigan State at 10:45 a.m. on Sunday in its final game of the Arizona State Little Wood Classic Tournament.