Roman Augustoviz spends Minnesota's winters covering college hockey, specifically the Gophers, and other University of Minnesota sports. During the summer, he writes about the WNBA's Minnesota Lynx, with a dose of U sports sprinkled in. Follow him on Twitter @RomanStrib.

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Gophers still have a card to play against the mighty Ducks

Posted by: Roman Augustoviz under Sports, Gophers post season Updated: May 25, 2014 - 3:04 AM

Oregon coach Mike White was piling it on after the Ducks embarrassed the Gophers 10-2 on Saturday night in a softball Super Regional.

"Minnesota is a great opponent. ... They never give up, they keep coming. ... I'm sure it will be a tough series tomorrow. ... Don't think this is over."

Was he serious? Hard to say. Not sure about this New Zealand native with Midwest ties -- he went to Mt. Mercy College in Cedar Rapids, Iowa.

What is probable, is that the Gophers will play better at 4 p.m. Sunday (ESPN) when the teams meet again. Hard to play worse.

The Ducks ran around the bases at will when Sara Moulton was on the mound. She was tagged for eight runs -- four earned -- and eight hits in three innings.

Nikki Anderson, a sophomore lefthander, was more effective: Two runs in two-plus inning, four hits.

Maybe the Big Ten pitcher of the year can do even better.

Sara Groenewegen played first base Saturday, but the Gophers have to start her in Game 2. She's a power pitcher who can keep Ducks off the bases.

The freshman righthander has struck out 185 in 112 innings. She whiffs 11.6 per seven innings -- that's the best rate in the country.

Groenewegen has struck out 10 or more batters seven times this season. Her season-best is 14, a mark set in her second-career start against Central Arkansas. She tied that number May 2 in a 3-0 loss at Purdue.

The Gophers need to slow down the Ducks' offense, which thrives on speed, which in turn creates chaos.

Minnesota committed four errors Saturday. Each pitcher made made, center fielder Bree Blanchette made one and catcher Taylor LeMay one. The Ducks also were 4-for4 stealing bases.

"We tried to play the game a little fast," Gophers coach Jessica Allister said.

"We struggled," shortstop Tyler Walker said.

The Ducks were as fired up as could be. Last year, when they were the No. 3 seed in the tournament, Nebraska came to Eugene and won 2-of-3 to end Oregon's season.

Oregon didn't want a repeat.

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