Spring Fever Pitch

Lyssa Beyer

The softball team found success in Arizona over spring break, coming away with a 10-2 record to boost its overall record to 14-4.

“We’ve meshed really well together,” freshman pitcher Jenny Ross said. “The captains have been great leaders. It’s pretty early yet, so we’re still figuring out everyone’s roles.”

Ross said the weather wasn’t very good at the start of the trip.

“It was sleeting and it was probably just as cold as at home,” she said. “But it improved greatly and it was a lot more pleasant.”

The Blugolds took on a variety of teams, including North Central (Ill.), Nazareth (N.Y.), Augsburg (Minn.) and Buena Vista (Iowa).

The only two teams to defeat the Blugolds were Doane (Neb.) and North Central

Ross seems to have found her role when she went 5-0 over the spring break series to give her a 7-0 overall record and a player of the week nod. She has only allowed one extra-base hit and has had at least five strikeouts in five games. She accumulated a total of 29 strikeouts in 29 innings over the trip to give her an ERA of 1.21.

“It was a huge honor,” Ross said in reference to her player of the week award. “I didn’t even know until my teammates told me. I’m honored by it. They have been totally supportive. Hopefully I’m headed in the right direction.”

Coach Leslie Huntington said she was impressed with how Ross has come back from surgery on her ACL last year.

“I’m really pleased with how Jenny has come along,” she said. “To be able to come in off of knee surgery like that is impressive. It really gives our team a boost. That was a question for us, who was going to step up on our pitching staff and she’s really stepped up.”

Senior Casey Leisgang also found success over the trip. The co-captain racked up 23 hits in 41 at-bats, scoring 19 runs. She was named Louisville Slugger/National Fastpitch Coaches Association Div. III Player of the Week, announced on Wednesday. In one game Leisgang was walked four times, three of which were intentional and scored three times in that game alone.

“I don’t know what to say about Casey other than she’s the kind of player you want at the plate when the game is on the line,” Hungtington said. “She really performs under pressure.”

The team will head to Decorah, Iowa for its next game this weekend against Luther College.

Ross said the team went to Carson Park on Wednesday to clear off Gelein Field for practice. The team will have its first home game on Tuesday against UW-Stout. The game begins at 3 p.m. and is a doubleheader.

The Blugolds will then be on the road until April 13, when they will take on the conference champions UW-Oshkosh in a doubleheader. Oshkosh was picked by the WIAC to finish first in the conference this year.

Ross said she is hoping to have Gelein cleared off will give the team an advantage against Luther College.

“Hopefully we’ll have sort of a home field advantage,” she said. “Other than that we are just practicing in the gym and tweaking things. We are making corrections in hitting and fielding that we noticed in Arizona.”

Huntington agreed and said the team is going to focus on a variety of things this week.

“We are going to be spending more time on defense,” she said. “We need to improve our short game with bunting and all that.”

In addition, the NCAA Div. III Softball Committee recently announced that UW-Eau Claire will be one of the first eight first-round hosts for the 2008 NCAA Div. III Softball Championship