SEATTLE – The first season for the Gophers softball team under coach Jamie Trachsel came to an end with a 5-2 NCAA regional loss to Washington on Sunday.
Afterward, Trachsel, a Duluth native hired from Iowa State, made a point to thank her five departing seniors, who helped the program continue its run of success that began under Jessica Allister, before she departed for Stanford after seven years leading the Gophers.
“Through no choice of their own, their lives changed,” Trachsel said. “For them sticking with it and showing great leadership with different personalities, staying the course and trusting the process, they’re a huge reason why this team was able to do what they did.”
Said senior Erika Rozell of Lakeville: “We’ve been through a lot as team, this team this year and over the past four years. I wouldn’t want it any other way. We learned about ourselves, a lot about how to be a good teammate. … We’ve learned just a lot of lessons about life and friendships and leadership.”
The Gophers sat at 14-10 at one point this season, but they finished 41-17 with a Big Ten tournament championship last weekend. In Seattle, they lost their opener to Texas but then won three in a row, including a 3-0 victory over the Longhorns late Saturday night behind Kendyl Lindaman’s 20th home run of the season and Sydney Smith’s 10-hit shutout.
Sunday, they couldn’t hang on against the fifth-ranked Huskies (47-8) after taking leads of 1-0 and 2-1. Julia DePonte drove in two runs, including the go-ahead run in a three-run fifth inning. Washington swept its three NCAA tournament games on its home field to move on to the super regional next weekend.
MaKenna Partain and Maddie Houlihan each had two hits for the Gophers, who put two runners on with two out in the seventh inning. But Sydney Dwyer grounded out on a nice play by Huskies shortstop Sis Bates to end the game.
“It was going to be a challenge, no doubt,” Trachsel said of facing Washington. “I was proud of how we came out and kept applying pressure throughout the game. We gave ourselves a chance in the seventh inning.”