We get one week closer to the end of the winter sports season and their playoffs as we begin in earnest the spring sports season with the debut of Gopher Softball. The Minnesota Golden Gophers are continuing to have success in both team and individual competition. Read below to see who stood out last week!
The Gophers kicked off their season at the Friends of Jaclyn Tournament in Orlando hosted by Central Florida. The Gophers went 2-1 on the weekend with wins over Northern Florida and Central Florida, a loss to Ole Miss, and a game rained out against George Mason.
The Gophers began their season with a big 13-0 blowout win over Northern Florida on Friday. Minnesota got off to a bit of a shaky start when Gopher pitcher Carlie Brandt loaded the bases in the top of the first inning, but the she got UNF go out down in order the rest of the way. It was the only threat the Osprey would have all game. Minnesota responded immediately as third baseman Kaitlin Kemmetmueller ripped a bases loaded double to score two runs in the bottom of the inning.
The game remained 2-0 Gophers until the bottom of the fourth inning where Minnesota would plate 11 runs! Oregon State transfer Hope Brander hit a bases loaded double and a home run in the inning to record 5 RBIs, Right fielder Maddie Houlihan added a double, two walks, three runs scored and two RBI. Brandt pitched three innings giving up two hits and striking out four for the win. Rachel Lowary pitched the final two innings and struck out two batters to close out the 13-0 win.
In their second game on Friday the Gophers looked to ace Amber Fiser to face the host Golden Knights. She showed no signs of early season run as she went five innings striking out nine batters and did not give up a hit. Minnesota got some great offensive performances from two freshmen as Josie White went 2-2 with an RBI and Ali Linder hit her first collegiate home run. Houlihan once again shined going 3-4 with 2 RBI. Brandner remained hot going 2-3 with a double. Hannah Bailey pitched the last two innings for Minnesota to close out the 7-0 win.
Saturday was not so nice to the Gophers. The Gophers could not get the bats to come alive against Ole Miss and dropped a game they would really like back 3-1. Fiser was sharp once again going six innings and striking out 10. She allowed just one earned run, but it was a part of a three run fourth inning for the Rebels that would be enough. The Gophers went up 1-0 in the top of the fourth on a Brandner bomb—her second of the weekend. But Ole Miss would string together three singles and then an error on Brandner at first base would allow two runs to score breaking open the game and making it 3-1. The Gophers could just muster two singles in the last three innings and the Rebels would get the 3-1 win.
Minnesota’s fourth game on the weekend on Sunday against George Mason was cancelled due to rain. On Monday Brandner was named the Big Ten Player of the Week for her weekend hitting .556 and slugging 1.556 to lead the Gophers. She recorded two home runs, three doubles, and seven RBIs.
The Gophers have a huge series of games this upcoming weekend at the St. Pete Clearwater Invite. The Gophers dropped to #27 in the USA Today Coaches Poll and will face three incredibly tough opponents this weekend. Friday at 2PM the Gophers will take on #6 Tennessee. The Saturday the Gophers will face #1 Florida State at 6:30 PM. Sunday morning the Gophers will face #29 California at 9AM. All three games can be streamed on ESPN3.
Gopher Women’s Hockey:
The Gophers were idle last week, but had some moving parts happen around them. The Gophers remained #1 in the nation in both national polls this week but fell to #2 in the pairwise and in the WCHA with Wisconsin’s sweep of Minnesota State. With four games left in the WCHA regular season the Badgers have a two point edge on the Gophers for the top spot and the regular season crown. It will come down to the wire, but the Gophers do have the easiest schedule remaining with a home series this weekend against Minnesota State and then a road trip to Bemidji State. Wisconsin ends their regular season with a trip to third place UMD and a home series with Ohio State who defeated WI earlier in the year.
The Gophers won the first three individual matchups on Friday night with Nebraska. The Gophers got wins from #6 Sean Russell with a pin at 125, a technical fall from #8 Ethan Lisak at 133, and #10 Mitch McKee at 141 before dropping the next six matches between 149-197 pounds. #1 Gable Steveson kept his winning streak alive at Heavyweight, but it was too little too late to win the match for the team.
On Sunday the Gophers dominated like they have not done for several seasons. The 45-0 win over the Terps was the Gophers first Big Ten shutout since 2012. The Gophers got seven bonus point wins including two pins to rack up the point total. Steveson defeated the #8 ranked heavyweight in the nation for his 26th straight win to begin his career, which places him at 16th on the Gophers all-time list alongside Dylan Ness, Chris Dardanes and Dave Dean.
Minnesota concludes the Big Ten duel match season on Sunday when Indiana comes to the Pav.
Gopher Track and Field:
The Gophers competed last weekend at the Iowa State Invitational and took home nine event titles. The Gopher men got first place finishes from Sammie Houston in the triple jump, Zach Nelson in the 60 meter dash, Teddy Freid in the pole vault, and the 4x400 meter relay team.
The Gopher women got titles from Hannah Morris in the long jump, Ashley Ramacher in the high jump, Amira Young in the 60-meter dash, Lexi Keifer in the pole vault, and the 4x400 meter relay team.
The Gophers will close out the indoor regular season at home with a pair of meets this weekend at the U of M Fieldhouse. The men will host the Snowshoe Open on Friday while the women will host the Parent’s Day Invite on Saturday. The Big Ten Indoor Championships are the following weekend in Ann Arbor with the NCAA Championships in Birmingham, Alabama in March.
Gopher Women’s Gymnastics:
The #18 Gopher women’s gymnastics team remained undefeated in the Big Ten with a 196.600-196.375 win at #16 Nebraska last weekend. The Gophers are now 8-2 on the season and 4-0 in the Big Ten.
For the second consecutive meet the Gophers recorded team event scores of 49.000 or higher on every apparatus. Lexi Ramler posted an all-around score of 39.475, taking second in the all-around competition snapping her streak of five consecutive all-around wins. Her 9.900 on beam and 9.875 on vault were good enough to claim two individual event wins. Paige Williams scored a 9.900 on the floor to tie for the event title with two Nebraska gymnasts.
The Gophers are back home Friday night for their final Big Ten duel meet of the season as they will host Maryland at the Pav at 7:30. The meet will air live on BTN.
Gophers Men’s Gymnastics:
The #4 Gophers scored their highest total on the year defeating #14 Arizona State 408.600-379.800. Each Gopher winning an individual event title recorded a new season high. Sophomore Shane Wiskus recorded first place finishes on vault (14.800), parallel bars (14.800) and high bar (14.200), all of which were Minnesota season highs and individual career highs. His parallel bars score is Minnesota’s best overall since the 2017 season and the third-best in the NCAA this season. For his effort he was named the Big Ten Gymnast of the Week.
Senior captains Vitali Kan and Shaun Herzog won the floor and pommel horse while senior Justin Karstadt won both the rings and the all-around title. It was his first time competing in the all-around since his sophomore season!
Freshman David Pochinka was given the Big Ten Freshman of the Week honors after he finished second on the pommel house, second on the rings, and third on high bar.
The Gopher team will have a week off next weekend, but Wiskus and Herzog will travel to Las Vegas to compete in USA Gymnastics Winter Cup event.
Gophers Men’s Tennis:
The Gophers had no trouble against the Big Green taking the doubles point before sweeping all six singles matches. The Gophers avenged a 5-2 loss to Dartmouth a season ago.
Marquette was a bit of a tougher task, but the Gophers got the job done. The Gophers once again got off to a good start winning the doubles point. #53 Josip Krstanovic lost in the #1 singles match for the Gophers, but Minnesota got wins at the #2, #4, #5 and #6 singles spots to clinch the match.
Gopher Women’s Tennis:
Minnesota was never tested in either match and cruised against lower talented opponents.
The task gets a big tougher this weekend when the Gophers head to Memphis for a pair of matches. Saturday the Gophers will face off against Missouri and on Sunday they will face the host Memphis Tigers.
Gopher Men’s Golf:
The Gopher men opened their spring season at the Big Ten Match Play Championships at Hammock Beach Golf Resort in Palm Beach, Florida. The #7 seeded Gophers dropped their first two matches losing 4-2 to #10 seeded Maryland before falling 3-2 to #9 seeded Indiana.
Against the Terrapins Minnesota got match wins from Evan Long and Angus Flanagan. They also got wins against the Hoosiers with Lincoln Johnson halving his match.
The Gophers picked up a win on Day 2 defeating #11 Michigan on a tie breaker after tying 3-3. The Gophers won the tiebreaker by winning more holes in the match 16-13. Once again it was Long, Flanagan and Johnson winning matches for Minnesota. The Gophers would then lose their final match 4.5-1.5 to #3 seed Iowa. Noah Rasinski got the lone win for the Gophers while Long stayed undefeated on the weekend with a halve in his match.
The Gophers will remain idle until the Schenkel Invitational in Georgia in mid-March. The Gopher women will compete at the Moon Golf Invitational in Melbourne, Florida this weekend.
Minnesota will kick off the 2019 baseball season this weekend at the College Baseball Classic at Surprise Stadium in Surprise Arizona. Minnesota will face two teams it saw in the NCAA Tournament last spring when they play the Gonzaga Bulldogs on both Friday and Monday and then get a rematch against the team that ended their 2018 season in the #8 Oregon State Beavers on Sunday. Saturday the Gophers will face off against New Mexico.
Look for a full Gopher Baseball season preview later this week.