We have been a bit remiss in keeping you updated on the Minnesota Golden Gophers non-revenue sports in the last few weeks. All of the winter sports are done with the exception of gymnastics, and the spring sports are in full swing in the middle of their Big Ten seasons. So catch up and see how the Gophers are doing as we make a sprint for what hopefully will actually be spring here in Minnesota.
The Gopher softball team has been the most successful team this spring as they make another run towards the top of the Big Ten. This past weekend they saw their home series against Michigan State cut from three games to a single doubleheader on Sunday due to the fun April snowstorm that hit the Twin Cities earlier in the week. That was a double edged sword for the Gophers who could use any win they can to keep pace with Michigan at the top of the Big Ten Standings, but also having one less game against the worst team in the conference RPI-wise when you are trying to keep yours as high as possible helps as well. In either case the Gophers easily took game one 7-1 and needed a late rally but came from behind to get the sweep winning 9-5 in game two.
Gopher ace Amber Fiser came into the weekend needing just one strikeout to become the sixth Gopher all time to record 500 career strikeouts. It took her exactly one batter to reach that milestone. She would go on to strike out 13 Spartan batters in the game and tie her career high in K’s for the third time this season. Minnesota would score one run in the first and fourth innings, two in the second inning, and three in the fifth to cap off the win. The Gophers did something that was incredibly rare in the fifth when they got three triples in one half inning. Anne Miller, Emma Burns and Makenna Partain all ripped three baggers. Add in a Kaitlin Kemetmueller double and Minnesota ran the score from 4-1 to 7-1. Fiser would throw all seven innings to pick up the win.
The second game was a bit more back and forth. Minnesota went down 2-0 in the top of the first inning and needed to claw their way back. They jumped back on top in the second inning after an Allie Arneson solo home run and two batters later a Partain two-run bomb to make it 3-2. The Spartans would plate three runs in the top of the fourth go to up 5-3 and end Sydney Smith’s day in the circle. Fiser entered the game with two outs and promptly struck out the next batter to end the threat. Then the Gophers bats came alive in the bottom of the innings. Minnesota plated three more runs on a two RBI-double by Natalie DenHartog and a RBI single by Burns. Fiser would shut down the Spartans for the rest of the game and Burns would add the final nail in the coffin with a three run home run in the bottom of the sixth ti make the final score 9-5. Fiser three 3.1 innings in relief striking out seven and giving up just two hits to get her second win of the day.
With their offensive explosion and shut down pitching by Fiser the Gophers took home two Big Ten Awards this week. While numerous players could have earned the Big Ten Player of the Week with their performances at the plate, only one could get the award. Honorable mentions went to DenHartog who went 5-8 with three doubles, two RBIs and two runs, and Burns who ended her day going 5-6 with four runs, five RBIs, one triple, one double and one home run. But, the honor went to Makenna Partain. She finished the weekend 6-7 with three doubles, a triple and a home run. She knocked in four runs, added a pair of stolen bases and ended the doubleheader with a 2.000 slugging percentage. Partain leads the Big Ten in runs per game with 1.1, and with four triples on the season.
Fiser was a shoe-in to win Big Ten Pitcher of the Week. She wen 2-0 throwing 10.1 innings striking out 20 and allowing just one run. She is currently second in the Big Ten with 199 strikeouts on the season. Her 18 victories and 1.40 ERA are both good for third in the conference.
The Gophers are now 29-10 overall and 10-1 in the Big Ten this season. They sit in third place in the conference behind 12-0 Northwestern and 11-1 Michigan. The Gophers currently are ranked #9 in the RPI and have a big road doubleheader at #25 Wisconsin on Wednesday. The first game will begin at 2PM with the second to shortly follow and both games will air live on BTN. Minnesota then heads to Lincoln for a three game series at Nebraska Friday/Sunday.
The last holdovers of the winter season will wrap up their seasons this weekend at their respective NCAA Championships.
The Gopher men are seeded sixth headed into the NCAA Championships in Champaign, Illinois. Minnesota will compete in Session 1 of the Pre-Qualifiers on Friday at 1PM against #2 Stanford, #3 Michigan, #7 Nebraska, #10 Navy, and #11 California. The top three teams from Session 1 and Session 2 will advance to the NCAA Finals on Saturday afternoon.
The Gopher men are coming off of a disappointing fifth place finish at the Big Ten Championships last weekend. Seven athletes advanced to the individual event finals with Shane Wiskus the only Gopher to earn a medal finishing third on the parallel bars. Wiskus finished fifth in the all-around and Justin Karstadt finished sixth each earning First Team All-Big Ten honors.
The Gopher women’s gymnastics team’s season ended at the NCAA Regionals two weeks ago at LSU. Minnesota finished in third place, one spot short of qualifying for the NCAA Championships this weekend. However, as the top all-around qualifier not on an advancing team, Gopher sophomore Lexi Ramler will compete at the NCAA Championships this weekend. It will be her second trip to the NCAA Championships where she will try and build upon the second team All-American honors on the beam she earned at last years competition.
Ramler continues to add honors to her season. Already named the Big Ten Gymnast of the Year for the second consecutive season, as well as a regular season All-American, Ramler was named the North Central Region Gymnast of the Year last week. She will compete beginning Friday at the NCAA Championships in Forth Worth, Texas.
Things are not going well for the Gopher Baseball team. Minnesota salvaged a single game in a weather postponed home series against Illinois winning Monday 5-4. The Gophers dropped both games of a double header on Sunday losing 4-2 and 13-3. Additionally Minnesota is without the services of sophomore pitcher Patrick Frederickson who left a game last weekend and did not pitch at all this weekend for Minnesota.
On Monday the Gophers came back from a 4-1 defecit to score two runs in the seventh and two runs in the eighth to grab a 5-4 win. Drew Hmielewski knocked in two runs, one each in the 7th and 8th to help the Gophers move to 15-18 on the season and 7-5 in the Big Ten.
The Gophers will take a weekend off from conference play this weekend as they first host South Dakota State Tuesday night, and then host the Oklahoma Sooners for a three game series this weekend. The Friday and Sunday games will be played at Siebert Field with the Saturday afternoon game being played at Target Field.
Both Gopher golf teams were in action this past weekend. The Gopher men took home sixth place out of thirteen teams at the Rutherford Intercollegiate hosted by Penn State. Freshman Lincoln Johnson was the top individual performer for Minnesota finishing in 16th place at four over par. They will close out their regular season this weekend at the Hawkeye Invitational in Iowa City.
The Gopher women finished in eleventh place out of twelve teams at the Lady Buckeye Invitational hosted by Ohio State this weekend. Sophomore Grace Kellar was Minnesota’s top individual finisher coming in a tie for 13th place at +8. The Gopher women will play in their Big Ten Championship Tournament this weekend at the TPC Rivers Bend Course in Maineville, Ohio Friday through Sunday.
Gopher Men’s Tennis:
The Gophers split a pair of matches in the Mitten State this past weekend losing 6-1 to #19 Michigan while defeating Michigan State 6-1. Junior Stefan Milicevic won the only match for the Gophers against the Wolverines at #2 singles defeating No. 53 Mattias Siimar 7-6, 6-7 11-9.
Against the Spartans Minnesota only dropped the doubles point en route to winning all six singles matches. #78 Josip Krstanovic who earned a 6-3, 6-4 win over No. 101 Jack Winkler in No. 1 singles for the Gophers.
Minnesota is currently ranked #34 in the nation and have a 15-6 overall record and a 4-5 Big Ten record on the season. Minnesota will finish their regular season this weekend with a pair of home matches against Illinois on Saturday and Northwestern on Sunday.
Gopher Women’s Tennis:
The Gopher women’s tennis team split a pair of Big Ten matches against ranked opponents at home last weekend. Minnesota upset #29 Northwestern 4-3 before falling to #34 Illinois 6-1. The loss to the Illini was the first home loss of the season for the Gophers.
Minnesota dropped the doubles point to the Wildcats to fall into an early 1-0 hole. But the Gophers would battle back to win four of the six singles matches. Tina Kreinis picked up a big upset win over No. 39 Clarissa Hand in a 3-6, 6-0, 6-3 match at #1 singles. Caitlyn Merzbacher River Hart and Camila Vargas all picked up singles wins for Minnesota.
Against the Illini only Tiffany Huber could pick up a win at the #2 singles spot defeating Mia Rabinowitz 6-2, 6-4.
The Gophers are now 11-10 overall and 5-4 in the Big Ten. They will end their regular season this weekend with a trio of home matches. Minnesota will host Iowa and Nebraska on Saturday and Sunday morning to complete the Big Ten season and then host Green Bay Sunday evening in one final non-conference match.
The Minnesota rowing team competed in the Big Ten Double Dual in Iowa City last Saturday. The unranked Gophers took on #11 Wisconsin, #13 Iowa and #20 Indiana in a series of races. Minnesota picked up wins from 2 Novice 8 and 2 Varsity 4 teams in the morning session and then added wins from all three varsity teams over Iowa in the afternoon session.
Minnesota will end their regular season at the Clemson Regatta this weekend before the Big Ten and NCAA Championships in May.
Gopher Track and Field:
The Gophers saw what would have been their first home meet at their new track stadium cancelled due to the weather this past Saturday. Minnesota next heads to Durham, NC for the Duke Invite this weekend.