Gopher softball aces praise former pitching coach turned head coach

Over the last decade, Gopher softball has been blessed with a string of dominant ace pitchers one after the other. They’ve helped lead the program to some lofty achievements. The common thread has been pitching coach Piper Ritter, who’s now taking over as head coach.

Click the video box on this page to see KSTP Sports’ chat with former Gopher All-American pitcher Sara Groenewegen and current All-American ace Amber Fiser about the tradition Piper Ritter has maintained, and their expectations as their former pitching coach takes over as head coach

After her own decorated career as an all-conference pitcher with the Gophers from 2001-2004, Ritter served as the program’s pitching coach for 13 seasons. She was quickly promoted to head coach when Jamie Trachsel left to fill the coaching vacancy at the University of Mississippi.

Ritter is the first former Gophers player to become head coach of the softball team. Her playing career set a high bar for her future student-athletes.

Per Gopher Athletics, Ritter – then Piper Marten – left the university with career records for strikeouts (1,122), innings pitched (921.1), games (173), wins (88), shutouts (33), and complete games (85). Her career strikeout mark ranked third all-time in the Big Ten and 14th in NCAA history. She threw a record-tying five career no-hitters for the Gophers, including two perfect games.

Ritter’s run of coaching fellow stars in the circle started her very first year back at her alma mater. Briana Hassett chased some of the program records Ritter had set before her successor Sara Moulton began to re-write the record books.

Following Moulton, Sara Groenewegen won Big Ten pitcher of the year honors, two All-American nods and departed as the new caretaker of most of the program’s records.

Current ace Amber Fiser is continuing the string of aces and accomplishments. As a junior in 2018, she was the Gophers top pitcher in their first Women’s College World Series appearance. Fiser will return for a fifth season in 2021 after the NCAA granted seniors additional eligibility when the 2020 season was halted due to the health crisis.