Win streak at 10
The softball team has not won a Wisconsin Intercollegiate Athletic Conference championship since the 2006 season. They now hold their fate in their own hands heading into the final weekend of the season.
The Blugolds defeated St Mary’s University of Minnesota 6-1 and 9-1 Tuesday in a final tuneup before two conference doubleheaders this weekend, including Sunday against first-place UW-Whitewater (26-6 overall, 9-1 conference).
Senior pitcher Ashley Meinen, the winner in game two Tuesday, said the team would love to bring a conference championship to Eau Claire.
“I want nothing more than the success of this team right now,” Meinen said. “We’re super excited.”
The two victories over St. Mary’s extended the Blugolds’ winning streak to 10 games, the team’s longest since an 18-game streak in 2006.
As has been the case throughout the current streak, the team was led by its starting pitching against St. Mary’s. Meinen and sophomore Emma Wishau each picked up victories, with Meinen allowing one run in five innings while striking out five in game two to improve to 11-3. Wishau also allowed just one run while throwing six innings of five-hit ball to move to 10-6 on the season.
Meinen pointed to a higher level of aggressiveness in the pitcher’s circle as a reason for her high level of performance as of late. Eau Claire head coach Leslie Huntington said Meinen has been performing the way the coaching staff knew she could all season.
Emily Muller added two more hits in game two, while junior second basemen Jenny Hess went 3-3 and stole two bases while batting lead off.
Huntington said Bromelkamp, who leads the team with 36 runs batted in, has worked extremely hard to improve her hitting mechanics and plate discipline and has been building confidence all year.
“She’s just having a great senior year,” Huntington said. “She’s doing a great job both at the plate offensively as well as behind the plate.”
At 10-2 in conference play, the Blugolds have a chance to win the conference title this weekend at home. The team has a doubleheader against UW-Oshkosh (15-17 overall, 5-5 conference) Saturday and a showdown with first-place Whitewater Sunday. If Eau Claire wins all four games, the team will be conference champions.
Huntington said her players understand a game-by-game mentality is necessary. Still, the coaching staff will have to do their best to reign in the emotions that will surely come into play.
“They know that this is what they’ve been working all season for,” Huntington said. “They’re going to have a lot of energy this weekend and they’re very focused on what’s ahead of them.”
Meinen and Muller both echoed Huntington’s sentiments that the team will have to play under control and not get too emotional this weekend.
“I think we will be alright,” Muller said. “We’re obviously going be more excited, but I think it will work in our favor. I think we will be focused and ready to play.”