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Gophers softball dominates border battles

Minnesota went a perfect 5-0, sweeping both the Iowa Hawkeyes and Wisconsin Badgers over the past week. The Gophers also swept Ohio State over the weekend.
Amani Bradley tripled for her 100th career hit in the first inning of the Gophers’ second game against Iowa. Photo taken by Brad Rempel for Gophers Athletics.

As the regular season winds down, the Gophers’ softball team is making a late-season push. Minnesota is now 14-6 in the conference after dropping the first three games to Northwestern.

The Gophers took all three games against Iowa last week and two against Wisconsin. The team also took all three games against Ohio State on Friday, Saturday and Sunday, not allowing Ohio any runs in Sunday’s game.

Pitcher Autumn Pease has been one of the major reasons for the team’s success. Pease has pitched in several of Minnesota’s latest games. The Gophers ace has not allowed a run in six of her latest appearances.

Minnesota sweeps Iowa at home

After a quick road trip to East Lansing, where the Gophers took two out of three games from Michigan State, Minnesota was back at Jane Sage Cowles Stadium, ready for a rivalry series with the Hawkeyes.

The fifth-year senior Pease pitched in all three matchups, tossing two complete game shutouts. In Game 1, Natalie DenHartog broke the deadlock with a 2-run home run to open the scoring. Minnesota added 4 more runs in the 6th inning and cruised to a 6-0 win over Iowa.

The following day was a similar story; Pease started in the circle once again. Amani Bradley tripled for her 100th career hit in the first inning. Jess Oakland brought her in to score on an RBI single, making it 1-0. Bradley plated two more runs on a single in the fifth inning.

Pease tossed another complete game shutout in the second game, throwing 235 pitches in two days. Pease struck out 12 batters in Game 2 to go along with the 10 strikeouts from the first game. Minnesota would win Game 2 by a final score of 3-0.

The final game of the series was the closest game of the three. It went into extra innings after both teams scored in the seventh inning to open the scoring. Kayla Chavez hit a sacrifice fly with the bases loaded to tie the game at 1-1. In the ninth inning, the freshman Jess Oakland hit a fly ball into center field that scored Chavez, and the Gophers walked it off.

Minnesota completed their sweep of the Hawkeyes with a 2-1 victory in Game 3. On top of the great performance by the team, Pease was named Big Ten Pitcher of the Week on Monday.

Gophers sweep Badgers in Madison

After dominating a border battle at home, the Gophers went on the road to take on Wisconsin. Even though Minnesota was on the road, it felt like home as they cruised to a sweep, outscoring the Badgers 16-0 in two games.

In the first game of the doubleheader, Minnesota jumped out to a 5-0 lead in the second and never looked back. Sydney Schwartz made a rare start at first base and faced off against her sister, Maddie Schwartz, the starting pitcher for Wisconsin. Sydney reached base on the only at-bat she had against Maddie.

In addition to facing her sister, Sydney Schwartz hit her first career home run. The offensive explosion from Minnesota led to a 9-0 victory in just five innings.

The second game of the doubleheader went the same as the first. Bradley continued her strong week at the plate, hitting a solo home run in the first inning. Minnesota’s offense would continue to add runs throughout the game, but one would have been enough.

Pease went six innings, striking out 9 hitters, and did not allow a run. Bri Enter closed out the win for the Gophers in what was a 7-0 rout of the Wisconsin Badgers.

Up next for the Gophers is the final road series of the season against the Ohio State Buckeyes. Following that series, Minnesota will host Michigan to wrap up the 2023 regular season.

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