MINNEAPOLIS -- The Summit League’s top pitcher was dealing, but the Big Ten’s top pitcher was better.
The North Dakota State University softball team had no offensive answers Friday night, May 17, in the NCAA regional opener, as the Bison were blanked 3-0 by host Minnesota. NDSU (42-15) is scheduled to face Drake on Saturday afternoon, with the losing team eliminated.
Gophers pitcher Amber Fiser surrendered three Bison hits but struck out a dozen NDSU batters, as Minnesota advanced to the winners bracket.
NDSU starting pitcher KK Leddy held the Gophers to just one hit through the first four innings. She went 5-1/3 innings, allowing six hits and all three runs, falling to 22-9.
“I’m real proud of the way KK went out there and battled today,” said Bison coach Darren Mueller. “I thought she did a really good job against a good hitting team and kept them off balance.”
The Bison got the game’s first hit in the second inning when catcher Maddie Hansen singled to left and got to second on a sacrifice bunt. But Fiser, who was the Big Ten’s top pitcher this season, settled in and retired the next seven Bison she faced.
The Bison brought the tying run to the plate with two out in the seventh, but Fiser ended the game with another strikeout.
It was the Gophers getting on the board first in the bottom of the second. Leddy hit Minnesota’s Katelyn Kemmetmueller with a pitch. She went to second on an infield single, took third on a throwing error and scored on a passed ball.
Vanessa Anderson got a one-out hit for the Bison in the fourth, but was stranded at first when Fiser struck out Hansen and Cara Beatty to end the threat. The third Bison hit came via another single to left, this time by Sam Koehn with two outs in the fifth. And again Fiser ended the inning with a strikeout.
Minnesota doubled its lead in the fifth inning as the Gophers touched Leddy for four singles, only one of which made it out of the infield. She loaded the bases with two outs before Kemmetmueller flied out to deep center to end the inning.With rain looming all evening, the scheduled start was pushed back another 25 minutes when the opening game between Georgia and Drake went to extra innings. Georgia won 6-4 on a two-run homer in the bottom of the eighth and will face Minnesota on Saturday.
“NDSU is tough. They’re a team that’s always dangerous no matter when you play them, but especially in the playoffs,” said Gophers coach Jamie Trachsel. “They come in and play really free and really loose.”
It was the fourth all-time meeting between the Gophers and Bison in the NCAA tournament. They met once in Minneapolis in 2014 and twice in Seattle in 2016, with Minnesota winning all three prior games.