Minnesota Dreams On To Its First WCWS
MINNEAPOLIS – During one of the first practices of the Gopher softball season, head coach Jamie Trachsel brought her players out to Jane Sage Cowles Stadium. She had the players sit down along the backstop while “Dream On” by Aerosmith played throughout the stadium. Her message was simple: why not us. From then on, the Gophers have been dreaming of the Women’s College World Series, and on Saturday the dream became real.
“I remember that day, just like it was yesterday… She started playing that song and I had tears in my eyes,” second baseman Makenna Partain said. “A lot of people counted us out. It’s just kind of a prove you wrong kind of thing. That was our whole mentality this year. Nobody was going to tell us we couldn’t.”
On the back of a fifth consecutive complete game by Amber Fiser, the No. 7 Gophers powered past the No.10 LSU Tigers 3-0 on Saturday. With the win, the Gophers advanced to the Women’s College World Series for the first time in program history.
“It’s hard to put into words, honestly, it seems a little bit surreal. [I’m] just proud,” Trachsel said. “Minnesota is a place you can chase your dreams and I’m so happy for all of these kids.”
The game was knotted at zero until the fifth inning when Gopher shortstop Allie Arneson drilled a 1-2 pitch on the inside part of the plate over the fence in left field for a solo home run. It was Arneson’s third of the season.
“I was ready for that inside pitch. My first at-bat she did that and I was like ‘it was going to happen again,’” Arneson said. “I think we loosened up after that, which was nice too.”
The Gophers added insurance in the top of the seventh when catcher Emma Burns lined a single up the middle, scoring third baseman Katelyn Kemmetmueller. Two batters later, left fielder Carlie Brandt singled Burns home, stretching the lead to three.
Fiser finished off LSU in the top of the seventh, earning her 31st win of the season, which ties her for second-most in a single season in program history. She is one win away from tying the team-record set by Sara Moulton in 2013. She has pitched 39 straight innings for Minnesota, dating back to April 11 in the Big Ten Championship against Michigan.
In seven innings, Fiser allowed three hits and three walks while striking out four. A day after throwing 147 pitches in the 5-3 win, she came back 24 hours later and threw 91.
While all of the Gophers RBIs came from the top four batters on Friday, Saturday was a different story as all of the team’s RBIs came from the bottom half of the lineup.
For LSU, it marks the second year in a row the team has fallen in the super regional, after making it to the College World Series the three years prior. Pitcher Maribeth Gorsuch started the game with three perfect innings but faded down the stretch before she was eventually replaced in the seventh inning. She gave up seven hits and three runs while striking out five.
A year removed from being eliminated in the regional round, the Gophers lost several key pieces coming into the season. Projected leadoff hitter and 2018 batting average leader Ellee Jensen was lost for the season due to injury and All-American Kendyl Lindaman transferred to Florida before the beginning of the year.
“So many people said we couldn’t do it,” Trachsel said. “Just when people keep counting you out, I think we bonded together, came together, instead of pulling apart.”