Allie Arneson had only three home runs this whole season. One two months into the season. One in the Big Ten tournament.
And one in the NCAA Super Regional.
The senior is sixth in the batting order and follows up sluggers like Hope Brandner and Natalie DenHartog. But in the postseason, she’s been clutch. And it was her bat that has sent the Gophers to the Women’s College World Series.
The No. 7 seed Gophers shut out No. 10 LSU 3-0 on Saturday in front of an announced crowd of 1,288 at Jane Sage Cowles Stadium for a two-game sweep. They will journey to Oklahoma next weekend to continue their postseason pursuit of a first NCAA championship.
History made. We never stopped dreaming. pic.twitter.com/oVXCAT5Ocv
— Minnesota Softball (@GopherSoftball) May 26, 2019
The Gophers (45-12) previously made the Women’s College World Series in 1976 and 1978 when playing in the Association for Intercollegiate Athletics for Women before the NCAA took over the competition in 1982.
LSU (43-19) came out much stronger than Friday, with pitcher Maribeth Gorsuch and the defense not allowing the Gophers to take a base until the fourth inning. The Gophers eventually broke through in the next inning with Arneson’s homer.
RBI singles from other bottom-of-the-lineup hitters freshman catcher Emma Burns and junior infielder Carlie Brandt solidified the result in the last inning.
“A couple people hit a couple pitches that surprised me. The actual pitch that they hit, I wasn’t expecting to see them produce on that particular pitch,” said LSU coach Beth Torina. “… A couple people did some things that I would say I was unprepared for. And, yeah, the bottom of the lineup was really tough on us.”
The Tigers made it interesting at the bottom of the seventh inning, but the officials called one of the hitters, who would have managed a base hit, outside the box. It was then a mob in the infield when junior MaKenna Partain fielded the ball and threw it to sophomore Hope Brandner at first base for the final out.
FOR THE FIRST TIME EVER…
— NCAA Softball (@NCAAsoftball) May 26, 2019
The Gophers finished with seven hits. Junior Amber Fiser held LSU to three hits and the Tigers left eight runners on base. Fiser threw just 91 pitches, compared to 147 on Friday in the Gophers’ 5-3 victory.
Fiser, who has been the Gophers’ star all season, wasn’t her at best Friday, but she didn’t let that throw her off Saturday.
“She was better on Day 2 than Day 1, which is unusual,” Torina said. “… We got to her on Day 1 and didn’t do much with her [Saturday]. I thought she was sharper [Saturday]. I mean, she was on a mission, and she’s talented. So you’re going to have to get a couple breaks, and we couldn’t get one the entire time.”
Gorsuch finished with a 2.56 ERA after not allowing any hits Friday when she took over about halfway through for starter Shelbi Sunseri.
Eight teams will advance to the college World Series in Oklahoma City at OGE Energy Field at USA Softball Hall of Fame Stadium starting Thursday.
This article is written by Megan Ryan from Star Tribune and was legally licensed via the Tribune Content Agency through the NewsCred publisher network. Please direct all licensing questions to firstname.lastname@example.org.