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Softball To Host Eau Claire Invitational this Weekend
Posted: Thursday, April 7, 2005
EAU CLAIRE - The eighth-ranked UW-Eau Claire softball team will look to stay red hot this weekend, when the Blugolds host the nine-team, 2005 Eau Claire Invitational this Saturday and Sunday on Gelein and Hobbs fields at Carson Park.
Joining the Blugolds in action will be Wisconsin Intercollegiate Athletic Conference opponents UW-River Falls, UW-Oshkosh and UW-Platteville as well as non-conference opponents Elmhurst (IL), Minnesota-Morris, Northland, St. Scholastica (MN), and Hamline (MN). Game times are at 10:00 a.m., Noon, 2:00 p.m., and 4:00 p.m. on both fields on Saturday and 9:30 a.m., 11:30 a.m., 1:30 p.m., and 3:30 p.m. on both field Sunday, with one game at 5:30 p.m. on Gelein Field.
The Blugolds kick off the action Saturday at 10:00 against Elmhurst and then play UM-Morris immediately afterward at noon. Eau Claire continues action Sunday at 1:30 against St. Scholastica and concludes the tourney at 5:30 against Northland. The Blugolds play all four of their games on Gelein Field.
Eau Claire will be looking to extend its current 10-game win streak this weekend, and is the only team currently ranked in the top 25 according to the latest National Fastpitch Coaches Association Division III Poll. The Blugolds last saw action on Tuesday when they swept a doubleheader over River Falls. Eau Claire won both games by scores of 3-0 behind complete game shutouts from Mallory McKinney (So.-Brooklyn Park, MN/Champlin Park) and Andrea Neuville (Jr.-Green Bay/West).
The Blugolds sit at 16-3 on the season after starting the year 2-2 at the Rosemount Dome Invitational in Minnesota. At the invite, the Blugolds ended St. Thomas' string of 43 consecutive wins, the longest ever in Division III and just four wins short of tying Arizona's all-division record of 47 straight victories.
Defending WIAC Champion Eau Claire has had the right combination of hitting and pitching this season, boasting a .274 team batting average and a microscopic 1.26 team ERA. McKinney leads the team with an 8-1 record in the circle and a 1.37 ERA in 66.2 innings pitched while Neuville is 6-2 with a 0.94 ERA in 44.2 innings.
Current WIAC Softball Athlete of the Week Steph Farenbaugh (Jr.-Brownton, MN/McLeod West) has been clobbering the ball this spring, posting a .391 average with 12 RBI while stealing nine bags in 10 attempts. Leadoff hitter Casey Leisgang (Fr.-Seymour) carries a .375 average into play this weekend and leads the team with three home runs, two triples and 22 runs scored. Leisgang also leads the team with an incredible .708 slugging percentage. Jill Janke (Fr.-Black River Falls) has collected 18 hits, tied with Farenbaugh and Leisgang for the team lead, for a .333 average. She leads the team with 18 RBI on the young season.
The Blugolds kick off action against Elmhurst on Saturday, who brings an 8-5 record into play after having a doubleheader against Augustana rained out on Wednesday. Hillar Pietrucha leads Elmhurst with a .606 batting average and 20 hits while Katie Gervase has been the main run producer, tallying 14 RBI and a .409 average.
After Elmhurst, Eau Claire immediately plays UM-Morris, who comes into the weekend with just a 2-20 overall record. Nicole Rettig is the only player on the roster with a batting average over .300, as she sits at .345.
Perhaps the Blugolds' toughest challenge will come in their opening game on Sunday, when they battle St. Scholastica. Saints' ace Laura Heise shut down Eau Claire last season in a complete game, five-hit, 4-0 win. The Saints have not been in action since March 22 thanks to a rainout against UW-Stout on March 30. The Saints are 12-4 on the season as Heise is 9-2 with a 0.80 ERA.
Eau Claire concludes play at 5:30 p.m. on Sunday against Northland. The LumberJills bring a 4-10 record into play after dropping a pair of games to UW-Superior on April 1. Northland fell to the Yellowjackets by scores of 15-6 and 5-0.