Gophers win three but drop two against ranked Alabama

Minnesota outscored Missouri State and Lousiana Monroe 25-1 over the weekend.

Sophomore Amber Fiser pitches during a game against Nebraska at Jane Sage Cowles Stadium on Saturday, April 21, 2018.

Jack Rodgers, Daily File Photo

Sophomore Amber Fiser pitches during a game against Nebraska at Jane Sage Cowles Stadium on Saturday, April 21, 2018.

Paul Hodowanic

Minnesota’s softball team traveled to Tuscaloosa, Alabama this past weekend for the Easton Bama Bash, taking on Alabama, Louisiana Monroe and Missouri State. 

The Gophers (7-5) finished the weekend 3-2, beating Missouri State once and Louisiana Monroe twice, but the team fell victim to No. 6 Alabama in two games. 

“I was proud of how resilient we were, it was an emotional game on Friday night versus Alabama,” said head coach Jamie Trachsel. “We had a relatively solid weekend, just one pitch here and one play here or there, and that was the difference for the two games [against Alabama].”

The Gophers started the weekend playing Louisiana Monroe on Friday and dispatched the Warhawks, winning 5-0. Freshman catcher Emma Burns caught fire and hit two home runs in the game, the first two of her career. 

“My hitting has been struggling, but every at-bat I’ve gotten better and better,” said Burns, who changed her bat this weekend, using teammate Maddie Houlihan’s bat. “I think honestly that gave me a lot of confidence, going in and hitting that [first home run] was honestly just like the greatest feeling.”

Sydney Smith took the mound for the Gophers and pitched a complete game shutout, surrendering three hits and striking out five. 

Minnesota brought the strong pitching performance over to the next game against Alabama on Friday evening as Amber Fiser pitched 6 2/3 innings, giving up one run on four hits and striking out five. The one run was a costly one as it came in the bottom of the seventh inning and gave the Crimson Tide the 1-0 victory. 

The Gophers looked to redeem themselves Saturday afternoon in a rematch against Alabama. Minnesota jumped out to an early 2-0 lead after Hope Brandner blasted her third home run of the season to center field. 

However, Fiser ran into a rough patch in the bottom of the fifth giving up a pair of home runs and a two-run single, as Alabama put up seven runs. The Crimson Tide took the 7-2 lead into the sixth inning, but play was stopped due to rain. After a lengthy wait, the game was called by the umpires. The victory was given to Alabama because they had already played five full innings. 

Minnesota entered Sunday’s play 1-2 for the weekend, but got back on track in a pair of games against Louisiana Monroe and Missouri State. The Gophers made quick work of Louisiana Monroe, winning 13-1, jumping out to a 9-1 lead after the first inning. Freshman Natalie DenHartog provided the bulk of the offense, belting a grand slam to get the Gophers on the board. Fellow freshman Emma Burns added a solo shot in the inning as well. 

The Gophers capped off the weekend against Missouri State, blanking the Bears 7-0. Fiser continued her strong weekend of pitching, throwing five scoreless innings and giving up just one hit. Brandner carried the load on offense racking up three RBI’s, and DenHartog added to her already stellar day, going 2-2 with a double, triple and a walk. 

“She has natural power, she’s a big, strong kid for a freshman,” Trachsel said of DenHartog. “On her first at-bat she had a leadoff double, but she fouled a couple pitches off to opposite field. She handled a change-up or two and I thought, ‘man that was a pretty mature at-bat’, and to get on and handle both sides of the plate and some off-speed shows [that she] keeps growing and maturing as a hitter.”

The Gophers will head west next weekend to Tucson, Arizona to face off against Arizona, Drake, James Madison and Kent State.