Evanston, Ill. – After getting two strikes on her, freshman Sam Macken hit a hard grounder that the Michigan second baseman couldn’t handle.
And the celebration began.
Macken’s run-scoring, walk-off single gave the Gophers a 3-2 victory over the top-seeded Wolverines and the Big Ten tournament championship. Minnesota had won this tournament only once before, in 1999 when it also beat the Wolverines.
Michigan (42-12) had beaten the Gophers two out of three in a series in Ann Arbor and was the conference co-champion. The Gophers had finished third and were the No. 3 seed.
No matter. Erica Meyer led off the Gophers’ seventh with a walk. She stole second base after a botched sacrifice bunt and moved to third on a wild pitch.
Leadoff hitter Tyler Walker, who slugged two homers earlier in the day in the Gophers’ 9-0 rout of Ohio State in five innings in the semifinals, was intentionally walked.
Up came Macken, a .257 hitter with only three RBI. She made good contact and Walker, running to second base, might have bothered the fielder. Game over.
The Wolverines (42-11) threatened in the top of the seventh on Lyndsay Doyle’s two-out double, but Walker made a diving catch at shortstop on the next batter.
Michigan took a 2-0 lead in the fourth inning. Caitlan Blanchard doubled and, after an error and a wild pitch, Michigan had runners on second and third base. Lauren Sweet’s singled scored both.
In the bottom of the fourth, Kaitlyn Richardson — the tournament MVP — and pitcher Sara Groenewegen hit solo homers, one batter apart, to tie the score at 2-2. The Gophers hit eight homers in three tournament games, giving them a single-season team record of 63.
Against OSU, they hit four. Walker led off the game with a homer and hit another in the third. Bree Blanchette and Meyer had two-run homers in the second and fifth innings, respectively.
Senior righthander Sara Moulton threw a one-hitter for her 12th shutout of the season.