A wild game finished in a wild way as Sydney Fabian dodged a tag at home plate to end a ten-inning, three-hour-and-forty-minute marathon of a Big Ten championship game against No. 2 Michigan. The game went past midnight and into the early morning hours on Sunday on the campus of Penn State, and the Gophers won 3-2.
The Big Ten Tournament championship victory is the second in three years for the No. 23/19 University of Minnesota Gophers. They also won in 1999 and in 2014.
Sara Groenewegen was named the tournament MVP for what head coach Jessica Allister called one of the gutsiest performances she has ever seen. Groenewegen pitched every inning, 24, of the tournament for the Gophers. She struck out 11 batters only giving up two earned runs in the ten inning championship game.
“I am just so proud of our team right now. We were nothing but resilient,” Allister said.
Early both teams traded scores all the way. Michigan scored right away in the top of the first and the Gophers answered when Sam Macken came home on a wild pitch. Michigan scored in the third and again the Maroon and Gold answered in the form of a Macken run when Maddie Houlihan brought her in with a sacrifice fly in the bottom of the inning.
The Gophers are now off to the NCAA Tournament for their fourth straight season and for the 11th time in program history.
The Gophers earned an automatic bid to the tournament after winning the Big Ten Tournament Championship. They will travel to Seattle, Wash., the NCAA Division I softball committee announced Sunday evening. Washington is the host and will take on Weber St. first on Friday. Minnesota will face North Dakota State.
In total, 64 teams were placed at 16 different regionals on campus sites. Each regional is a four-team, double-elimination tournament. The 16 regional winners will advance to super regionals, from which the eight NCAA Women’s College World Series teams will emerge.
The Gophers enter the tournament with a 41-12 overall record. They are 13-17 all-time in NCAA Tournament games. Last season they fell in the regional championship game to Arizona in an extra inning thriller.
The Gophers take a 14-game win streak into the NCAA Tournament. They are 13-5 against NCAA Tournament teams this season.