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Softball Advances To Championship Contest
Posted: Sunday, May 18, 2008
SALEM, Va. - Although top-seeded Louisiana College (44-6) got an early jump on the UW-Eau Claire softball team, the Blugolds turned it on in the fifth to take the lead for good, winning 2-1 at the 2008 NCAA Division III Championship at the James I. Moyer Sports Complex.
The win for the Eau Claire (35-11) is the seventh straight, which is the team's longest winning streak this season. Eau Claire ended Louisiana College's six-game win streak.
Because the Blugolds have not dropped a game at the double-elimination national tournament, they now sit in the driver's seat to take home the title. Eau Claire will the face the winner of the UW-Whitewater vs. Louisiana College game that will take place at noon (EDT) on Monday. The championship game is scheduled to begin at 2:30 p.m. (EDT) the same day. A win Monday for the Blugolds would mean they are national champions, while a loss would set up a second championship game on Tuesday at 11 a.m. (EDT).
Blugold head coach Leslie Huntington is excited about her team's chances this week.
"We?ve got an incredible opportunity ahead of us tomorrow, and it's just amazing to think about the position that we?re in right now," Huntington said.
To get to the championship game, Eau Claire needed to come from behind in the game Sunday. Just as the Blugolds did on Saturday, they scored two runs in the fifth that would put them ahead for good. Betsy Kettinger (Jr.-Bloomington, Minn./Jefferson) got things going in the fifth with a single before Sara Baumgartner (Fr.-Arcadia, Wis.) came in to pinch run for her. Katie Stalker (So.-Madison, Wis./La Follette) then hit a double to left field, after being down two strikes, which set up runners on second and third. A wild pitch during the next at-bat allowed Baumgartner to score the tying run. Casey Leisgang (Sr.-Seymour, Wis.) would then hit a single to right field to drive in Stalker and the Blugolds took the lead.
Stalker's double in the inning was the turning point in the game for Eau Claire.
"Katie Stalker being down two strikes and coming through and lacing that shot through the middle was something that we have been waiting for Katie Stalker to do all season long," Huntington said. "She couldn't have picked a better time to do it and do it very well. I think that was really the key. The emotion went to a new level when that happened."
Leisgang led the game, going 3-for-3 and picked up one RBI. Three other Blugolds each had one hit. Stalker came up big on the defensive side as well, as she threw out five runners. She also recorded a double play to end the game.
Two Louisiana College batters, Ashleigh Clement and Aimee Dubroc, went 2-for-3 tonight. Dubroc recorded Louisiana's lone RBI for the evening.
Jenny Ross (Fr.-Mendota Heights, Minn./Henry Sibley) picked up the win for Eau Claire and is now 26-2 on the season. The victory tied Eau Claire's single season win record with Mallory McKinney, who set the mark in 2006. Tonight Ross pitched her 16th complete game of the season. She struck out only one batter and allowed five hits and one earned run but accumulated six assists as six batters grounded out to her.
Louisiana College's Rene? Schwartzenburg was credited with the loss, her first of the season, and is now 16-1. She allowed six hits and two earned runs in six innings of work and struck out two.
- KM -