A young pitching staff for Michigan State and multiple schedule changes worked in Minnesota's favor in Sunday's doubleheader at Jane Sage Cowles Stadium.
The Gophers won the first game 7-1 and the second game 9-5 in the shortened series. Minnesota technically earned the series sweep in two games because the third game was canceled due to scheduling complications, due to inclement weather last week.
"We had 16 extra base hits today, and that's a lot of extra base hits," head coach Jamie Trachsel said. "It was collective throughout our entire lineup, and that's a great contribution from your lineup."
The first game went in favor of Michigan State for a brief period in the first inning, but it was all Minnesota after that. Minnesota players MaKenna Partain and Maddie Houlihan each had two RBIs in the game. Beyond that, extra-base hits were a theme in the early game with Partain hitting two doubles and a triple. There were nine total extra-base hits for the Gophers in the 7-1 rout.
Minnesota's star pitcher, Amber Fiser, pitched all seven innings of the game and allowed five hits and one run through those innings. She threw 134 pitches in the game and recorded 13 strikeouts in the victory.
Fiser notched an impressive individual record against the first batter she faced in the game. With the first out of the first inning, Fiser recorded her 500th career strikeout. The 13 in the game tied her career high in a single game as well.
"I don’t always think about what number I’m at; I never honestly know what strikeout number I’m at during a game," Fiser said. "My goal is just to go out there and throw out the batters or put the ball in play and have confidence in the defense behind me."
In the second game, senior pitcher Sydney Smith got the nod in the circle to start and pitched the first 3 2/3 innings. She gave up five runs to the Spartans and struck out four batters. Fiser came back in after some rest and collected seven more strikeouts in the last 3 1/3 innings to collect her second win of the day.
This game wasn't as decisive as the first one. The score went back and forth as Michigan State took a 2-0 lead early, to which Minnesota responded with a three-run second inning. In the fourth, both the Gophers and Spartans scored three runs apiece.
This time the offense came from freshman Emma Burns, who led the team in RBIs. She had four while Partain and freshman Natalie DenHartog had two RBIs each. Burns, Partain and senior Allie Arneson had home runs in the game to power the Gophers to victory.
With the series sweep, the Gophers have one loss in Big Ten play so far. They go on to play Wisconsin in a midweek doubleheader on Wednesday.
"Each day is a new opportunity," Trachsel said. "Each opponent is a little bit different ... we’re just trying to take care of Minnesota softball and the things that we can control in every single area."