Gophers softball reaping rewards from successful season

Amber Fiser was named a finalist for the Honda Sports Award.

Members of the Gopher softball team celebrate after winning the NCAA Super Regional against Louisiana State at Jane Sage Cowles Stadium on Saturday, May 25. 

Jasmin Kemp

Members of the Gopher softball team celebrate after winning the NCAA Super Regional against Louisiana State at Jane Sage Cowles Stadium on Saturday, May 25. 

by John Miller

The Gophers softball team had its most successful season in school history in 2019.

Despite losing in the Women’s College World Series to UCLA and the University of Washington, weeks later they are still being recognized for what they accomplished during the season.

Pitcher Amber Fiser was nominated for the Honda Sport Award for softball earlier this month. The four finalists are considered the top women’s college softball players in the nation. Fiser had her best the season in her Gophers career, finishing with 346 strikeouts, a 1.27 ERA and a 31-9 record.

“She had a tremendous year and she was one of the biggest reasons that we were as successful as we were,” said head coach Jamie Trachsel. “Every time she had the ball, she gave us a chance to win. There’s not a lot of pitchers that could do what she did and I think that’s why she’s being honored and being recognized the way that she is on the national stage.”

Fiser, the Big Ten Pitcher of the Year, lost out on the Honda award to UCLA’s Rachel Garcia, who has won it two years in a row. Despite not winning, Fiser was proud to be nominated.

“It’s just absolutely incredible. I have worked my whole life to try and get where I am today,” Fiser said. “Like I have said a thousand times, I would not be able to do that without the team I have behind me.”

Although Fiser has always wanted to win the award, it’s not on the forefront of her mind as she heads into the offseason.

“I think more about the team than I do of myself. I just want nothing more than the team to go back to the World Series again next year,” said Fiser.

The team will return seven of its nine starters in the field and Fiser on the mound.

To prepare for next season, Fiser plans to get into one of her passions, taekwondo. Although she has taken a few years off from the martial art, she feels it will be something that will help her get even better going into next year. She said it helps her last further into games and throw more pitches and more innings. It also aids her mentally.

“Just kind of getting away from it the past few years, I have noticed a difference in myself,” said Fiser. “I’m not as flexible, or I maybe let some things get to me more than I used to when I was in taekwondo. I think it just helps me respect the game a lot more, respect other people.”

Fiser wasn’t the only one to be rewarded for a terrific season. Coach Trachsel and her staff were named the NFCA Great Lakes Regional Coaching Staff of the Year. In her second season as head coach, Traschel led her team to a 46-14 record. The NFCA Coaches Poll had the Gophers ranked at the eighth spot to end the season.

“I just think that it’s a byproduct of what our team was able to accomplish together and as a coaching staff,” said Trachsel.

The coaching staff is currently nominated for NFCA’s Division I National Coaching Staff of the Year award. The winner will be announced June 26.

“There’s great company when you look at the candidates,” said Trachsel. “We tell our kids, you get awards, recognition and honors when you’re on a successful team and this is not different. We’re proud to represent Minnesota in any way.”