Minnesota softball puts together its best weekend of the year

The Gophers outscored their opponent’s 42-14 on the weekend.

Natalie Denhartog waits for the pitch during the game against Iowa at the Jane Sage Cowles Stadium on Friday, April 26.

Chris McNamara

Natalie Denhartog waits for the pitch during the game against Iowa at the Jane Sage Cowles Stadium on Friday, April 26.

Nolan O'Hara

Strong offensive performances helped the Gophers softball team to an impressive showing at the Auburn Tournament, where it won four of five games games in the series.

Gophers run-rule Binghamton, top Auburn Friday

Minnesota had no trouble putting runs on the board in its first game of the weekend against Binghamton, securing the 11-0 run-rule victory after six innings. 

Despite being held without a run through three innings, Minnesota’s offense got into a rhythm in the fourth. Outfielder Ali Lindner brought in the first run for the Gophers on a single to center, and infielder MaKenna Partain quickly brought her home with a two-run home run to left-center field. A Natalie DenHartog single and a Binghamton error brought in two more runs for Minnesota as it took a 4-0 lead. 

Defensively, pitcher Autumn Pease pitched five shutout innings, striking out eight and paving the way for Ava Dueck to make her debut. Dueck struck out two in the sixth. 

Minnesota kept its momentum going into its second game against Auburn, winning 5-4 in a back and forth contest. 

After trading runs early, Auburn brought in two in the fourth to tie the game 4-4. In the seventh, with the game still tied 4-4, DenHartog singled and was advanced on a sacrifice bunt. Auburn secured the second out of the inning, before infielder Katelyn Kemmetmueller hit a double down the line to bring in the leading run. Pitcher Amber Fiser struck out two in the bottom of the seventh and forced a ground out for the third to secure the victory. 

“Just finding ways to win. That’s what good teams do, they find ways to win,” said head coach Jamie Trachsel. “We went 1-2-3 in the seventh and [Fiser] did a great job and had a couple big strikeouts.”

Gophers run-rule Georgia Southern, fall to Auburn Saturday

In another strong offensive showing, the Gophers earned their second run-rule victory of the weekend over Georgia Southern, 14-3.

Georgia Southern got off to a quick start, putting two runs on the board in the first and shutting out the Gophers in the first two innings. But in the third, DenHartog hit a three-run home run to give Minnesota a one-run lead that only grew throughout the remainder of the game. Scoring seven runs in the sixth, the Gophers offense put together its second 10-run performance of the weekend on its way to the run-rule victory. 

Despite being fresh off a 14-run game and topping Auburn a day earlier, the Gophers were unable to take the weekend sweep, falling 5-1 to Auburn later in the day. 

The run for Minnesota came in the third off the bat of Partain, who hit a solo home run to center. From there, the Gophers were shut out, and Auburn, leading 3-1, added two more in the fourth before the Minnesota defense clamped down and held Auburn at five. Auburn handed Minnesota its first loss of the weekend. 

Gophers run-rule Binghamton for the second time Sunday

Minnesota closed out its weekend on another dominant offensive performance, notching its third run-rule victory of the weekend 11-2 over Binghamton. 

Similar to its game against Georgia Southern, Binghamton struck first and early, bringing in the first run of the game in the top of the first. Minnesota answered with three in the first, three in the second and five in the third. DenHartog and infielder Emily Hansen each had three RBIs in the Gophers flurry.

“I think we made a lot of improvements this weekend. It was cool to see different people step up in ways that are new,” DenHartog said. 

Binghamton was able to add another run but couldn’t close the gap enough to avoid the run-rule. With the win, the Gophers improve to 12-7 on the season. 

“They did a really good job consistently,” Trachsel said of the Gophers offense. “Drove the ball, had a handful of home runs and had a lot of quality at-bats… It was our overall best weekend of driving in the runs when we had people in scoring position.”