MADISON, WIS. – It took more than eight hours and a helicopter, but the Gophers finally beat Wisconsin 6-0 on Friday in the first quarterfinal of the Big Ten softball tournament.
The two-time defending tournament champions endured two rain delays — of 49 minutes and 4 hours, 52 minutes— and a chopper delay of 44 minutes before the game, which started at 11 a.m., finally ended about 7:15 p.m. Yes, a helicopter was brought in to fly over Goodman Diamond to try to dry it after the fourth inning.
Sophomore Amber Fiser gave up only two hits and struck out seven without allowing a walk in four innings to get the victory for the Gophers (37-15)— Minnesota’s 20th in the past 22 games. Her first strikeout gave her 300 for her career.
“That’s a tough day for anybody and I am really proud of how we handled that,” coach Jamie Trachsel said. “… A great way to start the tournament.”
Minnesota, which was the home team for this game, put its first two batters on base — MaKenna Partain doubled and Kendyl Lindaman got aboard on an error — before the first rain delay. The Gophers took a 2-0 lead — on a Badgers error and Sydney Dwyer’s RBI — before the second.
In the second inning, the Gophers doubled their lead to 4-0. Partain drove in a run on an infield single and Maddie Houlihan had an RBI triple.
In the fifth, after the chopper delay, Trachsel switched pitchers, bringing in junior Sydney Smith, a first-year transfer from LSU. Smith didn’t allow a hit in three innings and struck out four.
Dani Wagner’s RBI double, on a ball dropped by the left fielder, made it 5-0 Minnesota in the fifth.
In the sixth, Lindaman’s double to the opposite field scored Partain, who was 3-for-4 and scored three times, as the Gophers extended their lead to 6-0.
Besides Partain, two other Gophers had multiple hits. Houlihan was 2-for-4 with two RBI, and Ellee Jensen went 2-for-3.
Minnesota, seeded second and ranked No. 21 by ESPN.com/USA Softball, will play Indiana at 1:30 p.m. in Saturday’s semifinals. The third-seeded Hoosiers beat Illinois 2-1 on Taylor Uden’s walk-off homer.