TUCSON, ARIZ. - The bats came alive. And Sara Groenewegen dominated in the circle. All that led to a predictable outcome as the Gophers routed New Mexico State 10-2 in six innings in the opening game of the Tucson Regional in NCAA softball tournament. Groenewegen pitched a three-hitter and struck out 10 while walking five.
The Aggies (46-15) took a 2-0 lead in the top of the first inning on Staci Rodriguez’s two-run homer off Groenewegen. It was the 16th homer for Rodriguez, the two-time WAC player of the year.
Minnesota (47-9) answered with four runs in the bottom of the inning. Groenewegen’s hopper over the third baseman scored the first run. Hannah Granger doubled to tie the score and Taylor LeMay, who had three RBI total, followed with a two-run single.
That was a welcome outburst, considering the Gophers were coming off a 2-0 upset loss to Iowa in the Big Ten tournament quarterfinals.
Minnesota scored three more runs in the second on four singles, a walk and a hit batter, to take a 7-2 lead. The inning ended with Groenewegen being thrown out at home trying to score on a fly-ball out.
Doubles by Erika Rozell and Danielle Parlich in the third gave the Gophers an 8-2 and Granger’s two-out, bases-loaded single drove in another run to make it 9-2. But on the same play, Kaitlyn Richardson was caught in a rundown between third and home and tagged for the third out.
The Aztecs loaded the bases with two out in the fifth, but Groenewegen got a big strikeout. She has 354 this season.
An inning later, Erica Meyer’s sacrifice fly scored the 10th run for the Gophers, ending the game an inning early by the eight-run rule.
Oregon scored four runs in the fourth inning, the fourth on Koral Costa’s homer, to edge North Dakota State 4-3 in the Eugene (Ore.) Regional.
The Bison (45-10) scored in the first inning on Cheyenne Garcia’s solo homer and Logan Moreland’s two-run homer in the sixth. The Ducks (48-6) are the No. 2 overall seed in the 64-team NCAA field and go to 2-0 in their regional.
NDSU beat Brigham Young 7-0 later in the losers’ bracket.