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Softall Eliminated From WIAC Tourney
Posted: Sunday, May 4, 2008
STEVENS POINT, Wis. - With a 6-1 defeat at the hands of UW-River Falls, the third-seeded UW-Eau Claire softball team lost its second game of the conference tournament and was eliminated.
The day started out with a 7-5 victory over fourth-seeded UW-Stevens Point in eight innings to eliminate the Pointers before Eau Claire also knocked out top-seeded UW-Whitewater with a 4-1 contest. However, fifth-seeded River Falls beat the Blugolds to advance to the championship and face second-seeded UW-Oshkosh, the other team to beat 25th-ranked Eau Claire. It is the first Wisconsin Intercollegiate Athletic Conference (WIAC) Tourney Championship in four years to not feature the Blugolds.
The 7-5 extra-inning win over the Pointers came due to a two-run single from Kristi Doucette (Jr.-Green Bay, Wis./Ashwaubenon) in the top of the eighth. Jenny Ross (Fr.-Mendota Heights, Minn./Henry Sibley) held Stevens Point scoreless to get the win. She threw the last three frames and gave up a run on two hits. Bri Sturm (Jr.-Zumbrota, Minn./Zumbrota-Mazeppa) started the game and allowed four runs off seven hits and a walk over five innings.
The offense gave Sturm a 2-0 lead in the top of the third thanks to RBI singles from Michelle Butkus (Sr.-Medford, Wis.) and Bekki Kidnie (So.-St. Paul, Minn./Johnson). Stevens Point got a pair of their own in the bottom of the inning and followed that up with another duo of runs in the fourth. Eau Claire had pushed one across in the top of the fourth so the score was 4-3 after four.
[Jill Janke (Sr.-Black River Falls, Wis.) put the Blugolds up by a run in the sixth when she singled in Tamara Zeman (So.-Lodi, Wis.) and Casey Leisgang (Sr.-Seymour, Wis.) with two down. Eau Claire could not hold the Pointers scoreless in the next two frames and had to play extras, which ended after eight due to Doucette's heroics. Zeman, Doucette and Janke each had three hits in the game while Janke knocked in three compared to Doucette's two. Zeman scored a pair of runs. The entire offense outhit the Pointers 16-to-9 and left 11 on compared to six for the home team.
Eau Claire was outhit 7-to-5 in the game against No. 17 Whitewater, but still came away with the 4-1 win. Doucette again provided the offense for the Blugolds when she homered in the second to put the Blugolds up 1-0. A two-run Leisgang homer in the fifth and a solo jack by Butkus in the sixth made it 4-0. Whitewater did parlay two hits into a run during the bottom of the seventh, but it wasn't enough.
The Warhawks went through three hurlers, but the Blugolds stuck with Ross the entire time. She struck out five while walking none during the seven-hit performance. Whitewater left seven on while the Blugolds stranded four.
Doucette's 2-for-3 game was the only multi-hit performance for the Blugolds. She scored once and tallied an RBI.
The Blugolds ran into trouble against River Falls' bats. The 6-1 game appropriately started off with a leadoff homer from Falcon Mindy Rudiger. Two homers and a sac fly put five more runs on the board in the next three frames as River Falls jumped to a 6-0 lead.
Like Whitewater in the game before, the Blugolds managed a run in the bottom of the seventh but it would fall short. Jen Barron (Jr.-Brooklyn Center, Minn.) singled in Katie Stalker (So.-Madison, Wis./La Follette) to score the lone Eau Claire run. The Blugold batters marked off seven hits but the Falcons had 15.
Jessica Flood (So.-Madison, Wis./La Follette) gave up nine of those hits over five innings of relief. Three runs came across in those innings while Sturm gave up the other three in her opening two. Sturm's frames saw six hits and two walks.
River Falls and 14th-ranked Oshkosh now play for the title. River Falls hasn't won since 1994 and Oshkosh has never won the WIAC tournament. The pairings for the national tournament will come out on Monday.<