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Softball Season Ends In Heartbreak
Posted: Monday, May 15, 2006
ROCK ISLAND, IL - The fifth-ranked and top-seeded UW-Eau Claire softball team suffered a heartbreaker today, losing twice to Coe College in the championship round of the NCAA Rock Island Regional, resulting in elimination from the national tournament.
The Blugolds saw their 13-game winning streak come to an end in the first game of the championship round when they lost to Coe College 1-0, forcing a winner-take-all final game. In the final game, the Blugolds lost 6-5 when Coe scored in the bottom of the seventh to break a 5-5 tie.
Coming into today, the Blugolds were the only undefeated team left in the eight-team double elimination regional and had won 31 of their last 32 games.
Coe, the three-seed in the regional, defeated Hope College 3-1 earlier in the day to advance to face the Blugolds in the championship. Coe lost the first game of the regional to the University of Chicago 1-0 and then went on to win six straight games.
The best chance the Blugolds had in game one was in the bottom of the first when the Blugolds had runners at the corners with one out. However, Cohawks pitcher Billie Schultz struck out the next two Blugold batters to get out of the jam.
The Kohawks then got on the board in the fourth inning after an RBI single by Leslie Schneck scored Chris Engel. That would be the only score of the game as the Blugolds would only get one more hit the final four innings as the Kohawks forced a second and final game, winning 1-0.
The Blugolds only had three hits in the game and only had one runner advance past second base. Pitcher Mallory McKinney (Jr.-Brooklyn Park, MN/Champlin Park) pitched well in the loss striking out six and allowing just four hits. This is the first loss for McKinney (26-2) in the last 26 appearances.
In the final game, the Kohawks began the scoring in the bottom of the second inning on an Ashley Leonard home run to center field.
The Blugolds would respond in the top of the third. The inning would begin with a Steph Salter (Jr.-Schofield, WI/D. C. Everest) walk. After two Blugold outs, Mallory McKinney and Jill Janke (So.-Black River Falls, WI) would both walk to load the bases. Mandy Tschernach (Jr.-Rice Lake, WI) then got hit by a pitch to score Salter to tie the game at 1-1. Amber Haack (Jr.-Madison, WI/La Follette) would then step to the plate and hit a base clearing grand slam home run to left center field to make the score 5-1 in favor of the Blugolds.
However, the Kohawks would answer in the bottom of the inning. Chris Engel would hit a two-RBI single to cut the lead to 5-3. Coe would then score on a Blugold error and on a wild pitch to tie the game 5-5.
The score would stay that way until the bottom of the seventh inning. Mallory McKinney would get the first two Coe batters to fly out. She then walked the next batter. Leslie Schnack would then hit a game-winning RBI double to end the Blugolds season as Coe advances to the national tournament, winning 6-5.
Casey Leisgang (So.-Seymour, WI) led the Blugolds at the plate in game two, going 2-for-3. McKinney (26-3) gave a courageous effort on the mound, but came up short picking up the loss.
Three Blugolds were named to Regional's All-Tournament team, Mallory McKinney, Amber Haack, and Mandy Tschernach.
The Blugolds end their season with a 37-6 overall record. The 37 wins are the second highest in school history. UWEC breaks the team record for best winning percentage in a season at .881. The previous record was held by 1997 team, who had a .814 (35-8) winning percentage. The Blugolds also broke the team record for highest fielding percentage in a season at .964. The previous record was .960 back in 2001.