#18 Minnesota Softball 2019 Preview

Minnesota Golden Gophers
Overall Rank: #18
Conference Rank: #1 Big Ten
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Minnesota had a superb 2018 campaign, going 41-17 overall, 17-4 in Big Ten play and winning the conference tournament title. The Golden Gophers were sent to the Seattle Regional where they lost a tough game against Texas in their opener. The team rebounded nicely to beat Boise State and Texas to reach the Regional Finals, but that is where their road ended. This Minnesota team looked poised for a great year in 2019, but the transfer of Kendyl Lindaman hurts. She hit .361 with 20 homeruns and 55 RBIs last season and will spend the 2019 campaign with the Florida Gators.
2018: 41-17, 17-4
2018 Postseason: NCAA
Coach: Jamie Trachsel
Key Departed Players:
Kendyl Lindaman, C/UTL, .361 BA, 20 HR, 55 RBI
Dani Wagner, OF, .283 BA, 7 HR, 29 RBI
Sydney Dwyer, IF, .275 BA, 8 HR, 34 RBI
Key Returning Players:
Ellee Jensen, OF, .401 BA, 5 RBI, 11 SB
MaKenna Partain, IF, .375 BA, 7 HR, 48 RBI, 13 SB
Maddie Houlihan, OF, .333 BA, 6 HR, 37 RBI, 17 SB
Amber Fiser, P, 1.69 ERA, 27-10 W/L, 244.1 IP, 237 SO
Sydney Smith, P, 2.92 ERA, 7-5 W/L, 79.0 IP, 56 SO
Losing Lindaman will certainly hurt the power hitting of the Golden Gophers, but players like MaKenna Partain and Maddie Houlihan are ready to pick up the slack. Partain hit .375 with seven homeruns with 48 RBIs last season. Houlihan added a .333 average with six homeruns and 37 RBIs. With Ellee Jensen, who hit .401, setting up the rest of the offense, Minnesota has the talent to keep scoring some runs. This group may not be as dangerous as they were with Lindaman and no individual is going to replicate her production, but the lineup as a whole can keep this team as one of the best scoring squads in the Big Ten. The pitching staff can carry this team back to the NCAA Tournament, mostly on the shoulders of Amber Fiser. Last year she went 27-10 with a 1.69 ERA in 244.1 innings of work. Senior Sydney Smith will again provide most of the innings when Fiser needs a break. As long as the lineup can get along without Lindaman, Minnesota will compete with Michigan for a Big Ten title and get back to the tournament.
Projected Postseason: NCAA Softball Tournament