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Extra-inning walkoff HR sends Gopher Softball to Regional Final

Gopher softball players storm the field after Hope Brandner's walkoff home run in the 8th inning gave them a 2-1 win over Georgia in the NCAA Regional Semifinal Photo: ESPN3
Gopher softball players storm the field after Hope Brandner's walkoff home run in the 8th inning gave them a 2-1 win over Georgia in the NCAA Regional Semifinal

May 18, 2019 06:54 PM

The No. 12/8 University of Gophers trailed 1-0 heading to the bottom of the seventh but rallied to a 2-1 win over No. 14/16 with a Hope Brandner walk-off home run in the eighth inning. 

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With the win, the No. 7 overall seed Gophers advance to championship Sunday and will have two chances to move on to Super Regionals. Georgia will now face either Drake or North Dakota State at 8 p.m. tonight in an elimination game. The winner of tonight's elimination game will need to beat the Gophers twice tomorrow. The first game tomorrow will be at 3:00 p.m. with the final game at 5:30 p.m. if needed. 

"Our crowd was amazing. I thought our crowd helped us win that game," head coach Jamie Trachsel said. " From (Amber) Fiser to Hope, I mean everybody, it was a total team effort. We were resilient, we were determined and we found a way to win"

Brandner's game winning home run was her 19th of the season. She is one homer away from tying the single season program record. 

"Our mindset was just to go up and score one at a time," Brandner said. "This gives great momentum heading into the rest of the weekend and proves to us that we belong to be here."

Amber Fiser took the circle for the Gophers and settled in nicely, retiring Georgia in order in the first, third, fourth and fifth innings. 

Fiser was tossing a no-hitter through five innings. It was broken up in the top of the sixth when Georgia sent a solo shot to center field for their first hit and the first run of the game for either team. 

Georgia started the top of the seventh with a walk. The runner moved to second and then to third on a wild pitch with two outs on the board. Katelyn Kemmetmueller caught a foul ball for out three to prevent another run and keep the Gophers in the game. 

Minnesota placed two runners in the bottom of the seventh with one out after Ali Lindner drew a walk and pinch hitter Taylor Chell was hit by a pitch. MaKenna Partain drove in Lindner for the tying run with a single up the middle.  

With two outs on the board Fiser had to face one of the nation's best home run hitters in the top of the eighth when Alyssa DiCarlo stepped to the plate. Pitching coach Piper Ritter came out for a circle meeting and told Fiser to go right at her, according to Fiser. She did just that with a three strike strikeout. 

Brandner led off the bottom of the eighth and sent Jane Sage Cowles Stadium into a frenzy with her walk-off home run to left field. 

Fiser only allowed two hits in eight innings of work while striking out eight batters. She is 28-7 on the season with a 1.19 ERA. 

"This game shows what Gopher Softball is all about," said Fiser. "We have really been working hard this year. Getting this momentum and confidence is huge for us." 

2019 NCAA Softball Minneapolis Regional Notes
Saturday, May 18 | Jane Sage Cowles Stadium | Minneapolis, Minn.

Game 3
#7 Minnesota 2, Georgia 1 (8 innings)
•Minnesota advances to a Regional Final at Jane Sage Cowles Stadium for the second time. The Gophers also won their first two Regional games in 2014, defeating Green Bay and NDSU, then beat Auburn in the second game on Sunday to advance to the program's lone Super Regional appearance.

•The Gophers won their second straight game in the series with UGA, improving to 3-4. It was the first-ever postseason game between the teams, and also the first time the teams have played in Minneapolis.

•Minnesota improved to 22-27 all-time in NCAA Tournament play, while Georgia fell to 68-38. 

•The Gophers improved to 7-9 this season versus teams ranked in the Top 25.

•The game was just the second to go extra innings this season for Minnesota, which improved to 1-1 in extras. Georgia, which played its second extra innings game in as many days, fell to 2-4 this season in those games.

•Minnesota starting pitcher Amber Fiser went the distance, allowing just two hits and striking out eight. So far this weekend, Fiser has worked 15.0 innings, allowing just five hits and one earned run, while striking out 20 and walking just three batters.

•Fiser improved to 28-7 this season, establishing a personal best for wins in a season after having 27 wins as a sophomore. Fiser's 28 wins ties Sara Moulton (2011) for fifth-most in a single season.

•Hope Brandner's game-winning walk-off home run in the bottom of the eighth inning was her 19th this season. She is one HR shy of tying Kendyl Lindaman's school record total of 20 homers, which she did twice (2017, 2018). 

Courtesy: University of Minnesota Sports Information
 

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Chris Long

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