In Minnesota's first regional home softball game since 2014, the Gophers treated fans to a victory.
No. 7 Minnesota (42-12) defeated North Dakota State (42-15) 3-0 at Jane Sage Cowles Stadium. Pitcher Amber Fiser threw a complete game shutout. Fiser allowed three hits and struck out 12.
The Gophers scored all three of their runs on plays that didn't result in a hit. However, they were able to manufacture runs through patience at the plate and opportunistic base running.
Head coach Jamie Trachsel said Minnesota remained composed throughout the game.
"We're proud of our composure," Trachsel said. "We didn't panic. We didn't start to press. We had good discipline."
Neither team had an extra base hit as the teams combined for nine singles. Minnesota broke through in the second inning when third baseman Katelyn Kemmetmueller scored on a passed ball. A sacrifice fly from right fielder Maddie Houlihan gave Minnesota a two-run lead, while Hope Brandner walked with the bases loaded in the sixth inning, allowing center fielder Ali Lindner to score and increase the lead to 3-0.
Trachsel said great teams find different ways to win, something that described the Gophers' performance on Friday night.
"We've done that all year," she said. "As of late, we've come up with a lot of big hits and some home runs. We don't feel like that's the only way that we can win a ball game, and we proved that tonight."
The first game of the Minneapolis regional between Drake (42-14) and Georgia (40-17) went to extra innings. Georgia won 6-4 in eight innings, meaning that Minnesota's game didn't start until 9:01 p.m.
Fiser said she didn't have trouble with the late start.
"I think it's fun," Fiser said. "I love playing under the lights, and I think our team embraces that. We haven't been able to do it that much this year, so being able to go out there under the lights [with] this big atmosphere [and] to have all these fans supporting us, it's amazing."
The Gophers will face Georgia at 3 p.m. on Saturday at Jane Sage Cowles Stadium. The winner will advance to play in the final on Sunday at 3 p.m., while the loser will play Saturday evening at 8 p.m. against North Dakota State or Drake.