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March Mania

Gophers softball gets three more seniors back for fifth year of eligibility

A few weeks after Minnesota Golden Gophers softball pitching ace Amber Fiser announced her intentions to return next season for a fifth year of eligibility, a few of her senior classmates have decided to do the same.

Brooke Vander Heide, Katelyn Kemmetmueller and Carlie Brandt will be back next season, too, the program announced via its Twitter account Monday.

That decision was made possible last month when the NCAA granted an extra year of eligibility for spring sport seniors who had what was supposed to be their final seasons cut short by to the coronavirus pandemic.

Vander Heide, a transfer from Brigham Young, played center field for the Gophers this season. She had a .246 batting average when the season was abruptly suspended, and her 17 runs scored were third on the team behind Natalie DenHartog’s 22 and MaKenna Partain’s 20.

Kemmetmueller has proven to be a defensive savant at third base, earning Big Ten all-defensive team honors. Those skills will be welcomed back with open arms.

Brandt is a super utility player who has played every position except catcher during her career with the Gophers. She spent this season playing shortstop.