Gophers open season by winning two out of three

Minnesota defeated North Florida and Central Florida on Friday but lost to Ole Miss on Saturday.

Utility Carlie Brandt winds up for a pitch during the game against the University of South Dakota on April 4, 2017.

Ellen Schmidt, Daily File Photo

Utility Carlie Brandt winds up for a pitch during the game against the University of South Dakota on April 4, 2017.

Erik Nelson

The Gophers’ offense took flight in their regular-season opening weekend, guiding the team to a winning record.

No. 21 Minnesota (2-1) began its regular season with two wins and one loss, defeating North Florida (0-2) and Central Florida in a doubleheader on Friday in Orlando, Florida before falling to Ole Miss 3-1 on Saturday. Minnesota was supposed to play George Mason on Sunday, but the game was canceled due to rain. 

Head coach Jamie Trachsel said Minnesota was consistent throughout the weekend, but the fourth inning cost Minnesota on Saturday.

“We had one bad inning, and in our sport, one bad inning can cost you a game, and it did,” Trachsel said. “It’s a game of execution and we had a couple of plays we didn’t make on the defensive side. That was the difference of the game and that was the outcome.”

After scoring 20 runs in their first two games, the Gophers scored one on Saturday. Ole Miss defeated Minnesota 3-1. First baseman Hope Brandner hit a home run in the fourth inning to give Minnesota a 1-0 lead. The Rebels responded with three runs in the bottom of the fourth inning and held the Gophers at bay for the next three innings.

Pitcher Amber Fiser threw a six-inning complete game but came out on the losing end. Fiser allowed three runs on three hits while striking out 10 Ole Miss batters.

Gophers’ offense erupts in season-opening doubleheader

In the first game of the Friday doubleheader, Minnesota defeated North Florida 13-0 in five innings, scoring 11 runs in the fourth inning. Brandner led the Gophers offensively. She hit a home run in the fourth inning and drove in five runs in the game. Right fielder Maddie Houlihan and third baseman Katelyn Kemmetmueller each drove in two runs.

Brandner said she knew how to approach each at bat depending on the situation.

“I knew that when there were runners in scoring position, I needed to do everything I could to move the runners over or drive them in,” Brandner said.

Pitcher Carlie Brandt won her first game of the season. Brandt pitched three innings, struck out four Ospreys batters and allowed two hits. 

Minnesota defeated Central Florida 7-0 in the second game of the doubleheader. Left fielder Ali Lindner hit a two-run home run in the fourth inning to solidify the Gophers. Brandner, Houlihan and Kemmetmueller each drove in one run.

Fiser earned the win. She pitched five innings and struck out nine Bulls batters while not allowing a hit. Pitcher Hannah Bailey replaced Fiser in the sixth inning, striking out one Central Florida batter and allowed three hits.

Fiser said she wasn’t fatigued after pitching 11 innings this weekend.

“It’s the mentality that I have to overcome because the team needs me,” Fiser said. “That’s all that matters.”

Minnesota’s next game will be against Tennessee on Friday in Clearwater, Florida. The first pitch is scheduled for 2 p.m.

Trachsel said Tennessee will provide an early test for the Gophers.

“They’re not a team that’s going to beat themselves,” she said. “They’re going to force you to beat them. It will be a good matchup for our pitchers and our team. Hopefully, it’s a one-inning game and we have a chance to compete at the end of it and come out with a win.”