MINNEAPOLIS – As the weather warmed up in Minneapolis Friday, so did the Minnesota softball bats as the Gophers only needed five innings to take a series-opening win over Nebraska 10-1 in front of a sold out Jane Sage Cowles Stadium. Minnesota (25-14, 8-3 Big Ten) belted 11 hits to score all 10 runs in the first three innings of the game leaving Nebraska (30-15, 8-6) to find an answer to the strong arm of starter Amber Fiser.
“It was a really complete game from us,” said head coach Jamie Trachsel. “I like that we kept attacking and had to make different plays which we did throughout the whole game. I thought our game plan and how we prepared for Nebraska was all around good execution.”
In the circle, Amber Fiser improved to 17-8 on the season allowing one unearned run, extending her consecutive innings streak of not allowing an earned run to 20, while striking out five.
On offense, four Gophers recorded multiple hits while three drove in multiple runs. Senior infielder Danielle Parlich led the offensive distribution going 2-for-3 with three RBI.
Trailing by a run before even making a plate appearance the Gophers did not seem phased returning to action after weather forced a midweek cancelation against Wisconsin. The series opener had everything but a slow start as Minnesota sent all nine hitters to the plate in the opening frame.
The first three hitters were aboard setting up senior outfielder Dani Wagner to drive in the first of 10 unanswered runs for the Gophers via a Nebraska error. One batter later, Parlich ripped a single through the left side scoring a pair of runners before Wagner scored two plays later.
A 4-1 lead was not enough as the Gophers forced a zero on the board for the Cornhuskers in the second before putting up a crooked number of their own. Maddie Houlihan drove in MaKenna Partain, who led off the frame with a single, as part of her 2-for-3 night at the plate. Wagner and Parlich came in clutch once again each driving in a run a piece for an early 7-1 lead.
In the third, Nebraska tested the Gophers defense. With two outs and a pair of Huskers on board, Minnesota worked out of jam as a single up the middle looked to score a run until Wagner made the play of the night throwing out the runner at the plate from center.
The Gophers kept pushing down on the gas pedal plating three more runs in the third following a Nebraska pitching change. Leading off the inning with a double down the right field line, sophomore infielder Carlie Brandt scored one batter later as freshman outfielder Ellee Jensen sent a rocket to third as it skipped away from the Husker infielder. Jensen came around to score three batters later on a Houlihan single up the middle. Driving in the Gophers’ first run of the game, it only seem fitting that Wagner drive in the final run of the game scoring Kendyl Lindaman on a shot up the middle.
Out of the bullpen Sydney Smith pitched the fifth in relief for Fiser. Allowing a leadoff single proved to be no harm as the junior needed just eight pitches to retire the next three hitters for the Gophers to take the victory in short fashion.
The pair of Big Ten foes meet again on Saturday, April 21 at 1 p.m. prior to the series finale. Minnesota in search of their six consecutive win will do so again in front of a sold out crowd.
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