#13 Minnesota Softball 2020 Preview

Minnesota Golden Gophers
Overall Rank: #13
Conference Rank: #1 Big Ten
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Minnesota had a breakthrough season in 2020 as they won 46 games, hosted the Minneapolis Regional and Super Regional where they eliminated two SEC Teams in Georgia and LSU. The Golden Gophers advanced to the Women’s College World Series in Oklahoma City where they went 0-2. Despite losing two straight games in Oklahoma City, the experience of playing on that stage will only help the Minnesota program continue to grow as a national power moving forward.
2019: 46-14, 20-2
2019 Postseason: NCAA
Coach: Jamie Trachsel
Key Departed Players:
Maddie Houlihan, OF, .297 BA, 7 HR, 37 RBI, 7 SB
Sydney Smith, P, 2.40 ERA, 13-5 W/L, 108.0 IP, 25 BB, 99 SO
Allie Arneson, INF, .244 BA, 3 HR, 18 RBI
Key Returning Players:
Makenna Partain, INF, .383 BA, 5 HR, 33 RBI, 13 SB
Natalie Denhartog, UTIL, .373 BA, 17 HR, 64 RBI, 5 SB
Hope Brandner, INF, .354 BA, 19 HR, 59 RBI
Katelyn Kemmetmueller, UTIL, .222 BA, 7 HR, 22 RBI, 8 SB
Amber Fiser, P, 1.27 ERA, 31-9 W/L, 259.2 IP, 74 BB, 346 SO
This team should be strong offensively once again in 2020 as the Golden Gophers return their top three players in their everyday lineup. Makenna Partain hits for a very high average with a mix of power and speed that will be tough to deal with. Natalie Denhartog is one of the top all-around hitters in the country as she hit .373 with 17 homeruns, 64 runs batted in, and stole five bases. Hope Brandner is a threat to go over 20 homeruns after hitting 19 of them in 2019 while driving in 59 runs and hitting .354. Amber Fiser is the ace of the pitching staff and she will have a big say as to how far Minnesota advances in the postseason in 2020. Fiser threw 259.2 innings in 2019 and was absolutely dominant. Fiser struck out 346 batters while walking just 74 and had a 1.27 earned run average for the Golden Gophers last season. Look for Fiser to be in the National Pitcher of the Year conversation all year long. It will be interesting to see who enters the mix as the number two starter. Sydney Smith graduated and won 13 games and struck out 99 batters, while walking only 26. Trips to Ohio State and Michigan highlight the Big Ten schedule and, if Minnesota can go 4-2 in those six games, then they will more than likely be in a tightly contested race with the Wolverines to win the conference. Expect the Golden Gophers to hang around the top eight national seed conversation all year long.
Projected Postseason: NCAA Softball Tournament
Madness 2020 Draft Rankings:
#3 Amber Fiser