Softball falls to defending champs

The Blugolds challenged the Div. III defending national champions, St. Mary’s University (Minn.), on Friday.

St. Mary’s is ranked No. 1 in the most recent National Fastpitch Coaches Association Div. III poll, while the Blugolds are ranked 11th.

The teams played two games, which originally were scheduled to be played April 5 but bad weather postponed the games until Friday. It was the second game postponed this season due to bad weather.

Although the Blugolds scored first in both games, they were unable to hold their leads. They lost the first game, 6-3, and the second, 9-1.

In the opening game, the Blugolds took an early lead, scoring two runs in the first inning. Junior Tracy Steffens batted in senior Becky Bourne and junior Leah DeMares batted in junior Megan Grinnell.

The game remained at 2-0 until the Blugolds scored again in the top of the fourth to make the score 3-0 with an RBI by sophomore Jannah Grinnell.

The Blugolds, though, would score no more runs for the rest of game.

St. Mary’s came back strong in the last half of the contest. In the bottom of the fifth, it scored four runs, leaving the Blugolds trailing by one run.

In the bottom of the sixth St. Mary’s increased its lead by scoring another two runs. The game ended with St. Mary’s winning 6-3.

In the second game, the Blugolds opened the first inning with an run. Senior Becky Bourne was batted in by sophomore Dinah Martin. The run would be the Blugolds’ only run of the game.

St. Mary’s easily regained ground, earning four runs in the bottom of the first.

In the fifth, St. Mary’s increased its lead by scoring one run and added another four runs to its score in the last inning winning the game, 9-1.

The losses put the Blugolds’ record at 10-6 on the season. St. Mary’s record went to 9-5.

In the series, Eau Claire committed six errors only after making 17 in its first 14 games.

St. Mary’s had 21 hits in both games, while the Blugolds only had 10.

The Blugolds are scheduled to face UW-Superior at 3:30 p.m. Tuesday at Carson Park.