Hope Brandner has weekend to remember in Gophers’ first home series

Minnesota’s first baseman hit two home runs and drove in three runs in the Gophers’ sweep of Purdue.

Infielder Hope Brandner catches the ball for an out on Friday, March 29 at Jane Sage Cowles Stadium in Minneapolis. The Gophers beat the Purdue Boilermakers 5-1.

Tony Saunders

Infielder Hope Brandner catches the ball for an out on Friday, March 29 at Jane Sage Cowles Stadium in Minneapolis. The Gophers beat the Purdue Boilermakers 5-1.

Erik Nelson

When Minnesota needed runs, first baseman Hope Brandner provided the Gophers with an offensive spark.

Brandner hit two home runs and drove in three runs on Sunday as the Gophers swept the Boilermakers this weekend. Brandner hit multiple home runs over a weekend for the first time since March 1. 

Brandner’s first home run of the series came off Purdue pitcher Sydney Bates in the fourth inning of game one of Sunday’s doubleheader. The drive to deep center field was Brandner’s eighth of the season. 

Her second home run came in the first inning of the second game of the doubleheader off Maddie Damon. The ball hit the Jane Sage Cowles Stadium scoreboard and bounced back into play, but it was called a home run. Brandner also hit an RBI single in the fourth inning of game two. It was her 36th RBI of the season.

Brandner said it meant a lot for her to play in front of Minnesota’s fans.

“Everybody here was supporting me and being awesome,” Brandner said. “It was fun to play in front of them for the first time. My family was here. It’s always so much fun.”

Brandner is now second on the Gophers in home runs with nine, trailing left fielder Natalie DenHartog. She is second on the team in RBIs with 36, also behind DenHartog.

Head coach Jamie Trachsel said Brandner’s impact this weekend was beyond her performance offensively.

“You can see the way she’s carrying herself,” Trachsel said. “She played well on both sides of the ball, mature at-bats, being disciplined and taking her walks. We like the completeness of this weekend, not just the long ball, minimizing the strikeouts, putting the ball in play, and then being able to go out and play good defense and make plays for us and the pitcher. That’s all you can ask for out of a player. She’s done a good job at a high level.” 

Brandner owns Minnesota’s third best batting average this season, with .354. Second baseman MaKenna Partain leads the Gophers with a .368 batting average.

Brandner said this weekend will help her as Minnesota enters the home stretch of its regular season.

“Hopefully, it gives me some good momentum but also [I] try and stay composed and confident, not trying to do too much,” Brandner said.