Seattle – The Gophers softball team lost 2-1 to Texas on Friday night in the first game of the Seattle regional at Husky Softball Stadium.
Minnesota, No. 21 in the ESPN.com/USA Softball rankings this week, went into the NCAA tournament on a hot streak, winning 19 of its past 20 games, including three times last weekend en route to a third consecutive Big Ten tournament title.
But senior righthander Paige von Sprecken threw a four-hitter for Texas (33-24) and was rarely in trouble. The loss dropped the Gophers (39-16) to the losers’ bracket. They will play Boise State, which lost to Washington 8-0 in five innings in its opening game, at 6:30 p.m. Saturday.
“It’s a game of execution,” Gophers coach Jamie Trachsel said. “It’s a tough region, and we know that every game is going to be close and there was a couple plays that made the difference between a win and loss. We reattack what’s in front of us [Saturday] and we will be ready to go.”
Gophers pitcher Amber Fiser stranded runners on second and third in the first inning and Texas had a runner thrown out at home on a squeeze play in the second.
The Longhorns took a 1-0 lead in the fourth inning when Taylor Ellsworth doubled and MK Tedder’s hit a bloop single to left just out of shortstop Carlie Brandt’s reach.
The Gophers mounted a threat in the fourth. Kendyl Lindaman led off with an opposite-field double to right, and moved to third when Maddie Houlihan singled. But Sydney Dwyer, the next hitter, hit a line drive to first baseman Malory Schattle, who tagged the base to double up Houlihan. Danielle Parlich grounded out for the third out.
In the fifth inning, the Gophers changed pitchers, bringing in junior Sydney Smith who was so effective in the conference tournament. She walked two batters but also got a strikeout to end the inning.
Minnesota tied the score in the bottom of the fifth when Brandt walked. Pinch runner Katelyn Kemmetmueller moved to second on a sacrifice bunt, to third on an infield hit and scored on a fielder’s choice.
But Texas retook the lead in their next at-bat on Kaitlyn Slack’s RBI single that bounced off diving MaKenna Partain’s body at second base and rolled away from her.
Von Sprecken, who had three strikeouts and three walks, improved to 12-11 on the season.
“We induced groundouts when we needed and wanted them,” Texas coach Connie Clark said. “Our hitters had a good game plan going in, and I thought executed well. They gave us chances, and made them [the Gophers] play some defense. That was absolutely what we talked about prior to the game. We hit on all cylinders.”