Minnesota wins two in shortened series

The Gophers scored 12 runs compared to the Fighting Illini’s zero.

Sophomore Amber Fiser pitches against Northwestern on Saturday, April 15, 2017 at Jane Sage Cowles Stadium.

Image by Carter Jones, Daily File Photo

Sophomore Amber Fiser pitches against Northwestern on Saturday, April 15, 2017 at Jane Sage Cowles Stadium.

by Drew Cove

Minnesota returned home with a bang against Illinois.

The Gophers (20-13, 3-2 Big Ten) faced the Fighting Illini (22-13, 3-4 Big Ten) in their first home series of the season and though it was a short one, Minnesota got back to a winning record in conference play.

“I thought Fiser did a great job [Friday],” head coach Jamie Trachsel said. “When you can score [in] four of the six innings you have in the second game, that generally is going to add up to enough runs to give yourself a chance to win the game.”

The two games were played on Friday, as the forecast for Saturday was looking too cold to play at Jane Sage Cowles Stadium. Sunday’s game was canceled in the afternoon before the scheduled start because the temperature was too cold to begin the game, even as it was eventually delayed three hours from the original start time.

The opening game of the double header showed Minnesota’s offensive prowess and pitching strength. Pitcher Amber Fiser recorded the first no-hitter of her career in the complete game shutout and 6-0 victory. Fiser threw 104 pitches through the seven innings.

“It felt amazing,” Fiser said. “I knew that if they were going to put the ball in play … the defense had my back, so I had a lot of confidence in them today.”

Fiser shut down the potent Illinois offense, which had came into the weekend ranked 10th in batting average in the NCAA.

Minnesota’s offense padded the lead to help out the defense with some runs. Most of those runs came in the third inning. Second baseman MaKenna Partain hit an RBI single and later, catcher Kendyl Lindaman came up to the plate and hit her 12th home run of the season to the wall in left field. It was a three-run shot that gave the Gophers the 4-0 lead after three innings.

The Gophers tacked on two more runs in the next two innings to keep the score in their favor.

Fiser shuts down Fighting Illini again

The second game of the doubleheader was more of the same for the Gophers.

Minnesota beat Illinois 6-0 twice on Friday, but the second time was different from the first. Fiser got the start just over 30 minutes after she finished pitching the first game. She didn’t replicate the no hitter, but she sacrificed no runs and allowed just three hits.

Fiser threw 69 pitches in the second game to toss a total of 173 in the two games on Friday. Carlie Brandt came in to close things out. She was the only other Minnesota player to throw a pitch besides Fiser in the series.

Minnesota saw a resurgence from center fielder Dani Wagner. She gave the Gophers three runs with a double that scored two and smacked a solo home run in the game.

Left fielder Ellee Jensen showed off some defensive speed and made a diving catch in left field to preserve the lead. She also provided some offense to spark the Gophers to the second identical victory of the day. She went 2-4 in the game, which improved her team-best batting average to .371 for the season in the ninth spot of the order.

“We threw up some runs the last few innings to put it away, but I think, honestly, Amber just had a great day,” Jensen said.

The third game of the series was canceled because of inclement weather. The Gophers do not face Illinois again this season. Minnesota will return to action against Michigan State from East Lansing, Michigan next weekend.