The University of Minnesota Gophers beat LSU 5-3 this evening at Jane Sage Cowles Stadium in the first game of a best-of-three series in the Minneapolis Super Regional.
A four-run fourth inning, seven strikeouts by Amber Fiser and two RBIs by Maddie Houlihan helped the Gophers record a historic win. Minnesota, which notched its first win ever in a Super Regional, improved to 45-12 on the season, while LSU fell to 43-18. History was made at Jane Sage Cowles in front of 1,344 fans, the second largest crowd ever.
“It is a testament to this team that a different person is going to step up every single game,” Houlian, a senior leader on the team, said. “That is what a complete team is, that you don’t have to rely on one or two people to get the job done. I guess today was my day to step up for the team.”
MNN Sports Correspondent Corbu Stathes caught with Houlihan on the field after the game:
The teams will meet again tomorrow at 5 p.m. in Game two of the series. A Minnesota win would send the Gophers to the Women’s College World Series next week in Oklahoma City, Okla. An LSU win would force a winner-take-all Game 3 at 3 p.m. on Sunday.
“To be able to come back the way that we did, fight and battle and to win that game means a lot moving forward,” Head coach Jamie Trachsel said. “We’ll take that and use it for our next game.”
Fiser went the distance and threw a career high 147 pitches and got out of a two-on, one-out jam in the second by striking out the side.
“This is what our dream has been. Our dream is the World Series and we are just one game closer to that,” Junior Fiser said. “We can’t get too big about it, we have another game tomorrow and we could have a game Sunday.”
LSU’s Aliyah Andrews was hit by a Fiser pitch to start the third and then stole second base to get in scoring position. Minnesota notched two outs, but the Tigers’ Shemiah Sanchez then struck out to apparently end the inning. However, the ball escaped Gopher catcher Emma Burns who then threw it wide to first base and allowed Andrews to score from second to give LSU a 1-0 lead. Shemiah Sanchez advanced to second base on the throwing error by Burns, but then Fiser got Sewart to pop up to third to end the inning.
The Gophers didn’t trail for long, as senior and Plymouth, Minn., native Houlihan launched a no-doubter home run to deep left center on the first pitch of the bottom of the third inning to tie the game 1-1. The home run was the senior’s seventh on the season.
The Tigers jumped back on top 2-1 when Amber Serrett hit an opposite-field home run to start the fourth inning. Elyse Thornhill then laced a one-out double down the right-field line and scored to give LSU a 3-1 lead when Amanda Sanchez blooped a single to center.
Minnesota cut the lead to 3-2 in the bottom of the fourth, as MaKenna Partain got to first on a fielder’s choice. She then scored when Houlihan crushed a double off the wall. The run would be Partain’s 66th on the season, breaking Rachel Nelson’s 1996 single-season run record. It was the second RBI of the day for Houlihan, who advanced to third on the throw home to try and get Partain.
Hope Brandner would walk and then Natalie DenHartog tied the game 3-3 when she plated Houlihan after sliding a single past the shortstop. Katelyn Kemmetmuellerthen drew a walk to load the bases for Allie Arneson, who pushed Minnesota’s lead to 5-3 with an opposite-field single.
Fiser scattered eight hits and pitched a scoreless fifth, sixth and seventh to secure the win. Brandner made some impressive plays today at first, one being a diving catch for the third out in the top of the fifth. Kemmetmueller also came up with big defensive plays today, recording two of the three outs in the top of the sixth.
Fiser improved to 30-7 this season, increasing her personal best for wins in a season after winning 27 times as a sophomore. Fiser’s 30 wins rank as the fifth-most in a single season at Minnesota. She joins Sara Moulton (32 wins) and Sara Groenwegen (31 wins three times) as the only Minnesota pitchers with 30 or more wins in a season.
(info and photo courtesy of Gopher Sports)