Gopher softball’s Autumn Pease having breakout 2021 season

Pease has tallied 85 strikeouts in her 92 innings pitched for the Gophers softball team.

Matthew Kennedy

Gophers softball pitcher Autumn Pease has had a breakout junior season from the circle for the No. 23 ranked Gophers softball team. In the team’s 32 games this season, Pease holds an 11-1 record with a 1.45 ERA, 85 strikeouts and 15 walks through 18 appearances and 92 total innings pitched.

The highlight of Pease’s 2021 campaign thus far has been her no-hit performance on April 17, where she fanned three Nebraska batters down on strikes to record the 32nd no-hitter in Minnesota program history. Before Pease even entered the circle, she was confident she could put together a no-hit performance.

“Earlier in the day, I told myself, ‘I’m gonna throw a no-hitter today,’” Pease said. “So then when it was going on, I kept track in the back of my head like, ‘Oh, it’s the third inning, still no hits.’ And then Sydney Strelow made a really great back-end play in the fifth inning. And I looked at her, and I was so excited. Once the seventh inning ended, and all my teammates came up to me, and I almost started crying because it was so cool.”

Pease also said she watched Chicago White Sox pitcher Carlos Rodon throw a no-hitter on April 14 and told herself she would do the same and did three days later.

Pease credited the defensive plays made by Strelow and the Gophers’ fielders, saying they were key to her success from the circle.

“It’s not just the pitcher throwing the no-hitter,” Pease said. “It’s the defense as well because a pitcher can’t throw a no-hitter without the defense being so good. There were little bloopers that were hit that are hard to catch, but my teammates ended up just tracking everything down and sticking with all the balls. So I think that the biggest reason why I got my no-hitter was actually the defense.”

Pease has proven even sharper for the Gophers this season than her first year with the program in 2020, after transferring from Idaho State. Pease threw for a 2.12 ERA with a 4-2 record in 59.1 innings pitched and a 62/10 strikeout/walk ratio last season.

“I think I’ve improved a tremendous amount with just getting my spins tighter,” Pease said. “I had hit great spots, and my location was great last year, and I’m not a speedy pitcher. So hitting my spots in the strike zones even better than last year has been a huge growth in my game.”

Coming out of Murrieta Mesa High School in Murrieta, California, Pease had offers from smaller schools. After pitching a 2.36 era with 115 strikeouts over 121.2 innings at Idaho State, she decided to move up to a bigger program in Minnesota.

“We played Louisville in my first career start, and we beat them,” Pease said. “It was Idaho State’s first win over a Power Five team in some time, and I developed a mindset that I can compete regularly versus this type of talent. After sticking it out for the rest of the season, I realized it was the time to move and get a better education with a heightened challenge in the Big Ten at Minnesota.”

Against Louisville, Pease threw a complete seven-inning shutout with three strikeouts and four walks en route to a 3-0 win over the Cardinals on Feb. 8, 2019.

When Pease decided to transfer, she was interested in Minnesota because her sister had already moved out to the state and showed her around the University’s campus.

“She was driving me around, and I realized that this is such a cool campus. It just has the total college field that you see in the movies. And then, as soon as I wanted to become an orthodontist, I looked into dental school at Minnesota,” Pease said. “And I was like, ‘Okay, I’m going to go to Minnesota after my four years at Idaho State.’ And then when Minnesota reached out, I was like, ‘Cool, now I get to do my undergrad at Minnesota and my dental school, so I just get all of it in one.’”