Gophers Iowa

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Erik Nelson

Gophers take two on Friday

On a sunny Friday afternoon, the Gophers offense was efficient as Minnesota won both games in five innings thanks to the mercy rule. The Gophers won the first game 9-0 and the second game 8-0. 

Head coach Jamie Trachsel said Minnesota was ready for Friday’s games after a weekend on the road.

“It was a quick turnaround to come out here,” Trachsel said. “They were ready. Their energy was good. We scored in the majority of our innings. Our pitchers were outstanding. Being able to take care of business in five innings is a credit to how [the team] approached today.”

First baseman Hope Brandner and left fielder Natalie DenHartog both hit home runs. In the first inning, Brandner crushed a long home run to right center field that went off the Jane Sage Cowles Stadium scoreboard, giving Minnesota a 2-0 lead. It was her 13th home run of the season. 

In the fourth inning, DenHartog hit a three-run home run to left center field, extending Minnesota’s lead to 8-0. It was her 15th home run of the season. With that home run, DenHartog is now third all-time in Gophers history in single-season home runs.

Brandner said she and DenHartog feed off of each other’s success offensively.

“We get pumped for each other,” Brandner said. “When she’s doing [well], it pumps me up. When I’m doing [well], it pumps her up. It’s amazing to see all of us on at the same time.”

Pitcher Amber Fiser threw all five innings, striking out eight while allowing only two hits.

In the second game, Brandner extended Minnesota’s lead to 5-0 in the fourth inning with a three-run home run to left field. Partain walked off the game for Minnesota with a three-run home run in the bottom of the fifth inning. Minnesota won both games in five innings because of the mercy rule. It was the first time since March 23 that the Gophers won a game in five innings.

Pitcher Sydney Smith struck out five and allowed only one hit in five innings.

DenHartog said Minnesota’s pitching was effective in both victories.

“Our pitching was efficient and gave our defense plays to make,” DenHartog said. “The defense made the plays.”

Trachsel said it’s important for Minnesota to win games as efficiently as possible to save innings towards the postseason.

“We talk about that a lot,” she said. “Nothing else can happen because when you play this game long enough, there are never enough runs on the board.”

Minnesota concludes the regular season against No. 21 Northwestern (41-7, 20-0) at Jane Sage Cowles Stadium Friday-Sunday.