Minnesota splits St. Pete/Clearwater Invitational

The Gophers finished the weekend with two wins and two losses.

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.

Erik Nelson

After playing against two ranked teams in the St. Pete/Clearwater Elite Invitational, the Gophers left Florida with an even record.

Minnesota (4-3) won two of its four games in the tournament in Clearwater, Florida, defeating Notre Dame (4-6) on Saturday 10-0 in five innings and California (5-5) 4-0 on Sunday. The Gophers lost to No. 6 Tennessee (8-1) 4-2 on Friday and No. 1 Florida State (9-0) 17-6 on Saturday.

Head coach Jamie Trachsel said Minnesota played consistently during the tournament.

“We competed and executed well against top-level competition,” Trachsel said. “There were a couple of moments that we had that we’ll gain experience from with the speed of the game playing top-10 teams. There were a ton of contributions from everyone on our team in terms of execution and how we ended up winning those games.”

On Sunday, pitcher Amber Fiser threw a shutout against California, allowing one hit in six innings against the Golden Bears while striking out five batters for her third win of the season. Pitcher Rachel Lowary relieved Fiser in the seventh inning after striking out two batters. 

“It wasn’t [Fiser’s] best stuff,” Trachsel said. “She was able to get people out and have big pitches and big moments without her absolute best stuff.”

First baseman Hope Brandner was Minnesota’s top offensive performer, hitting a two-run home run to center that accounted for two of Minnesota’s four runs against the Golden Bears.

Gophers split doubleheader Saturday against Notre Dame and Florida State

The Gophers split their doubleheader against Notre Dame and No. 1 Florida State, defeating the former 10-0 and losing to the latter 17-6.

Pinch hitter Natalie DenHartog and utility player Carlie Brandt led the way for Minnesota offensively against Notre Dame. DenHartog hit a three-run home run to left-center field in the fifth inning. It was the first of her collegiate career. Brandt also hit her first career home run, blasting a three-run home run to center field in the first inning.

DenHartog said she wasn’t the only player for Minnesota to make an impact offensively.

“I was happy that when my name was called up, I was able to execute,” DenHartog said. “I wasn’t the only one who executed. We had three with their first career home runs this weekend. It was a fun team effort offensively all around.”

DenHartog drove in three runs in the Gophers’ loss to the Seminoles. She hit her second home run of the season in the fifth inning. It was a two-run shot to left field.

Pitcher Sydney Smith threw two innings and earned the loss. Smith allowed seven runs and seven hits while striking out three batters.

Gophers fall to Tennessee on Friday in opening game

Minnesota opened the tournament with a 4-2 loss to No. 6 Tennessee on Friday. 

Fiser lost her second game of the season. She threw all six innings but allowed two earned runs and five hits. Tennessee left fielder Amanda Ayala hit a three-run home run off Fiser in the third inning which proved to be the difference maker.

Minnesota will face Louisiana-Monroe (1-8), No. 7 Alabama (10-0) and Missouri State (6-4) this weekend in Tuscaloosa, Alabama. The Gophers play the Warhawks on Friday at 11 a.m. and on Saturday at 6 p.m. Minnesota faces the Crimson Tide Friday and Saturday. Friday’s game begins at 6 p.m. and Saturday’s game begins at 4 p.m. The Gophers conclude the weekend with a game against the Bears on Sunday. First pitch is scheduled for 11 a.m.

DenHartog said Minnesota is looking forward to next weekend’s games.

“We’re excited,” she said. “Seeing these good teams makes us better every day. We know we can compete with everyone and we’re excited to prove what we know what we can prove.”