The Gophers softball team, off to its first 5-0 start since 2003, plays four games in UNLV’s Easton Desert Classic this weekend. Minnesota opens against the host Rebels (1-4) on Friday and finishes against Florida, 6-0 and rated No. 1 in the ESPN.com/USA Softball poll, on Sunday.
Senior Sara Moulton and freshman Sara Groenewegen of the No. 24 Gophers have combined for the team’s five victories and have thrown 34 scoreless innings, including four shutouts in a row, and struck out 53.
• Larry “Doc” Russ, who coached St. Thomas to Division III men’s cross-country national championships in 1984 and 1986, died Thursday. He was 91.
• After 35 years, Tom Hodgson will retire as the St. Thomas men’s and women’s swimming and diving coach this spring. He was hired as the women’s team coach in the fall of 1979 and took over the men’s program a year later. Hodgson has coached more than 100 MIAC champions and 45 All-America swimmers. The Tommies have won two of the past four men’s conference titles and the women are defending MIAC champions.
• The Gophers men’s golf team will play in the Big Ten Match Play Championship starting Friday in Bradenton, Fla. The Gophers, seeded seventh, will play 10th-seeded Penn State in their opening match.
• Senior forward Justin Oliver of North St. Paul was named Gatorade’s boys soccer player of the year in Minnesota. He led the Polars to the Class 2A state title.