Gophers advance to NCAA super regionals with win over Georgia

The Gophers will host a super regional for the first time in program history.

Juniors Katelyn Kemmetmueller and Amber Fiser celebrate after an out on Saturday, May 18 at the Jane Sage Cowles Stadium in Minneapolis. The Gophers beat the University of Georgia 2-1.

Courtney Deutz

Juniors Katelyn Kemmetmueller and Amber Fiser celebrate after an out on Saturday, May 18 at the Jane Sage Cowles Stadium in Minneapolis. The Gophers beat the University of Georgia 2-1.

Erik Nelson

The sun shined over Jane Sage Cowles Stadium Monday afternoon. So too did the Gophers’ offense.

No. 7 Minnesota (44-12) defeated Georgia (42-19) 8-1 to advance to the NCAA Tournament’s super regional round for the first time since the 2014 season.

“It’s hard to win a championship at any level,” head coach Jamie Trachsel said. “It’s hard to continue to extend our season. Everything that we’ve gone through this year … we’ve kept moving forward. It’s special. That’s why you never want the moments to pass you. We handled the magnitude of the situation well today.”

The Gophers scored three runs in the first inning and four in the third. Designated player Natalie DenHartog opened the scoring for Minnesota in the first inning, blasting a three-run home run off the right center field light pole. It was DenHartog’s 17th home run of the season.

“Frankly, our whole offense was due,” DenHartog said. “It felt great.”

Singles by shortstop Allie Arneson and pinch hitter Anne Miller extended Minnesota’s lead to 6-0. Four of the Gophers’ six hits were singles.

Pitcher Amber Fiser won her 29th game of the season, allowing one run and five hits while striking out seven. She allowed only two runs in three regional games while pitching every inning for the Gophers. 

Georgia head coach Lu Harris-Champer said Fiser kept Georgia’s offense at bay. The Bulldogs averaged 6.10 runs per game as of May 18.

“Her location is outstanding,” Harris-Champer said. “We face a lot of good pitchers [in the SEC]. She’s good as well.”

Minnesota will host No. 10 LSU (43-17) May 24-26 in a best-of-three super regional — the first hosted by the Gophers in program history. The start times for the games have yet to be determined. The Gophers last played the Tigers on March 4, 2017, winning 3-0 in Baton Rouge, Louisiana. 

Minnesota was supposed to play Georgia on Sunday, but the championship game and the elimination game between Georgia and Drake was canceled due to rain.

Trachsel said the team watched “Rocky IV” on Sunday to prepare for Monday’s game.

“We knew we would need to fight today,” she said. “We hit a bit and then sent them home to rest and come back for today.”

The winner of the Minneapolis super regional will advance to the Women’s College World Series in Oklahoma City May 30-June 5. Minnesota has never played in the Women’s College World Series.

DenHartog said advancing to the Women’s College World Series is the Gophers’ dream.

“It’s huge for this program,” DenHartog said. “We’re happy to do it together with the personnel that we have. It’s hard to comprehend at this moment. There are going to be times in the middle of July where we can sit back, relax and say, ‘Hey, this is pretty cool.’ Right now, this is awesome. We’re going to celebrate.”