Three more seniors announce 2021 return for Gophers softball

Four of the team’s six seniors have now announced their intentions to return next season.

Junior Katelyn Kemmetmueller throws the ball to first base for an out on Friday, May 17, 2019 at Jane Sage Cowles Stadium in Minneapolis. The Gophers beat North Dakota State University 3-0.

Courtney Deutz

Junior Katelyn Kemmetmueller throws the ball to first base for an out on Friday, May 17, 2019 at Jane Sage Cowles Stadium in Minneapolis. The Gophers beat North Dakota State University 3-0.

Nolan O'Hara

Three more seniors will be returning to the Gophers’ softball team for the 2021 season, the team announced Monday via Twitter. 

On March 30, the NCAA passed a proposal granting spring athletes an extra year of eligibility amid the mass cancellation of sporting events due to COVID-19, allowing seniors to return for a fifth year. Infielder Katelyn Kemmetmueller, utility Carlie Brandt and outfielder Brooke Vander Heide are the latest Gophers seniors taking advantage of this fifth year of eligibility. Before the remainder of the 2020 season was canceled, Kemmetmueller, Brandt and Vander Heide were all starting for the Gophers.

On Tuesday, Kemmetmueller discussed her return in a video posted to the team’s Twitter account. 

“Another year to compete, wear that jersey and wear Minnesota across my chest means a lot. I’m really excited,” Kemmetmueller said in the video. 

Four of the six Gophers seniors have now committed to returning in 2021, with pitcher Amber Fiser announcing her return earlier this month. Infielders MaKenna Partain and Kaylen Krueger have not announced whether they will return in 2021. 

The Minnesota roster is taking shape with four seniors now committed to returning in 2021. The returners, along with the newcomers, are poised for a strong season, with some business left unfinished for a team that made the Women’s College World Series in 2019. 

“I think we had a lot of goals and aspirations for this year that we didn’t get to reach just because our season ended,” Kemmetmueller said in the video. “I think that next year is going to be a good year for Gopher softball.”