Minnesota sweeps Iowa in weekend series

The Gophers won two games on Friday and clinched the series sweep on Sunday.

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.

Erik Nelson

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.

“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 in the second game.

Sunday Sweep

After two run rule wins against Iowa on Friday night, the Gophers continued their dominance in the finale. Two quick runs set the pace for another strong offensive game against Hawkeyes.

Minnesota got the victory 6-1 and allowed its only run in the seventh inning.

 “We just have to play our game, go out there and attack them and know that it’s going to be a dogfight,” outfielder Maddie Houlihan said.

The Gophers started quickly and scored two runs in the first inning. They added three runs to their total in the third inning to pull away 5-0.

Smith relieved Fiser, who started the game, in the fourth. Smith recorded two strikeouts that inning, which was scoreless for both the Hawkeyes and the Gophers. Brandner scored the lone run in the fifth inning with a solo home run over the center field fence. Sophomore pitcher Hannah Bailey came in to relieve Smith at the seventh inning. 

“Being able to throw all three of us today just keeps the hitters off balance,” Smith said. “It’s hard for a team to prepare for three different people, so I think we have an advantage on that side.”

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