A day after coming a run short of winning their fourth consecutive Big Ten Tournament Championship, the Minnesota Golden Gophers softball team got a bigger prize. The Gophers were given the #7 national seed and will host a home regional for the first time since 2014! The #7 seed is the highest in school history. Not coincidentally, 2014 is the only season that the Gophers have advanced through the regional to a NCAA Super Regional. But that’s not all! With the #7 overall seed assuming Minnesota can get out of the regional they will host the first ever home Super Regional in program history against the winner of the The Gophers will host North Dakota State, Drake and Georgia at Jane Sage Cowles Stadium in a double-elimination regional format beginning Friday night.
Needless to say, the Gophers were just a little bit excited when their seed was announced.
DO Y’ALL SEE THIS?! See you at Jane Sage THIS WEEKEND〽️〽️〽️ https://t.co/sUUHc24vfn— Amber Fiser (@amber_fiser) May 13, 2019
WE NEED EVERYONE IN GOPHER NATION TO BE AT JANE SAGE THIS WEEKEND!!!! https://t.co/t3eXlOI9mM— anne (@annemillaa) May 13, 2019
The Gophers will begin NCAA Tournament play at 8:30 Friday night against North Dakota State. If, and with three very good teams coming to Jane Sage Cowles Stadium this weekend it’s not a given in any way the Gophers can advance to host a Super Regional next weekend they would host the winner of the #10 seeded regional. The #10 national seed was LSU, and the other three teams in the Baton Rouge Regional include Louisiana Tech, Texas Tech and Monmouth.
Big Ten Tournament Recap:
Minnesota finished in second place at the Big Ten Tournament this past weekend. The Gophers edged a tough Purdue team looking to pull and epic upset 4-3 on Friday night in the quarterfinals. Minnesota started Sydney Smith in the circle and she was effective early. The Gophers posted her a quick 3-0 lead in the bottom of the second inning when NCAA Freshman of the Year Top Ten Finalist Natalie DenHartog took the first pitch she saw deep for her 16th home run of the season. Katelyn Kemmetmueller would add a two-run shot later in the inning to make it 3-0. Purdue could cut the lead to 3-2 after a 2 RBI single in the top of the fourth inning, but Smith would get out of a jam in the top of the fifth inning unscathed. She went five innings, struck out four batters and gave up just the two runs. Minnesota got an insurance run in the bottom of the sixth inning on senior Allie Arenson’s solo home run. Amber Fiser came in to pitch the final two frames and was wild in the seventh inning giving up a run on a hit batter, but she would shut the door when she needed and the Gophers escaped with the 4-3 win.
Due to the chance of severe weather, the semifinals and championships game were moved up to Saturday morning. Minnesota did not seem to be fazed as the Gophers had no trouble taking care of #2 seed Northwestern for the third time in a week. Fiser was electric going all seven innings and striking out a career high 13 batters for the fifth time this season. She gave up just four hits in recording her eighth shutout of the season.
The Gopher offense got off to a big start on the shoulders of sophomore transfer Hope Brandner. She took the first pitch she saw deep for her 17th home run on the season to make it 2-0 in the top of the first inning. The Gophers added a run in the top of the second when Kemmetmueller hit her seventh home run on the season and second in two days to make it 3-0. They added an insurance in the sixth as DenHartog scored after a single and scored on an error.
The Gophers would take on #1 seed Michigan immediately after for the championship. Smith got the start in the circle and threw three scoreless innings before the Wolverines got to her in the fourth with the single and a double. The Wolverines would add two more in the top of the fifth inning to take a 3-0 lead. And then the rain came. After about a 30 minute rain delay, the teams resumed the game on a field that looked like a mud pit. But it allowed Minnesota to regroup. After fisher shut down a Wolverine threat in the top of the 6th, the Gophers finally got on the board on a Brandner home run to make it 3-1. A single and double put two runners in scoring position with just one out, but the Gophers could add just one more run on a DenHartog sac fly to make it 3-2 after six innings. The Gophers had one last chance in the seventh getting the leadoff batter on base on a walk, but they could not get her home and the Wolverines took a 3-2 win and the title.
The Big Ten was finally recognized in softball this season. Not only did the Gophers get the #7 overall seed, but both Michigan and Northwestern will host regionals as the #15 and #16 overall seeds respectively. That has to be the first time in history three Big Ten teams will be home for the first weekend of the tournament.
Congrats to the Gophers for their season so far. We will have a full preview of the Minneapolis Regional later this week!!