Story by Ashley Hofer and Nick Gourdoux

Overtime is a weekly prediction column where sports editor Ashley Hofer and staff writer Nick Gourdoux make their picks concerning upcoming sporting events. Questions about Blugold outcomes comprise the first four quarters, while the overtime question poses a national scenario. The staffer with the most correct picks wins the all-important bragging rights for the week.

Last week’s prediction results were dismal, at best. Ashley managed just a single correct pick, and Nick didn’t do much better by getting two right. Both misjudged the tennis outcomes and were mixed on the remaining questions. But Nick’s additional right prediction gave him another tally in the win column, meaning he and Ashley are tied in the semester standings. This week, the writers fight for sole-possession of first place.

First Quarter: How many runs will the softball team score against Luther College (Iowa)? (A) Zero or one (B) Two or three (C) Four or more

Ashley: While the women’s team has showed improvement recently, a game against nationally-ranked Luther may temporarily halt that progress. The Norse have an impressive 14-3 record this season and have given up only 13 runs. That’s right, allowing just 13, while notching 150 runs for themselves. The Blugolds do have a pretty decent offense, as they average nearly four runs per game, but I think Luther will prevail and shut down the run-scoring. My pick: (A) Zero or one.

Nick: Luther’s pitching has been impressive, as Ashley pointed out. However, the Blugolds are playing two games against Luther, and thus far this season, the Blugolds have only been shut out three times. Odds are the Blugolds will score at least one run in one of the games, and the other run is only one bad pitch away. My pick: (B) Two or Three.

Second Quarter: What will be the result of the softball team’s doubleheader against UW-River Falls? (A) Win two (B) Win one (C) Lose both

Ashley: After winning three games in Illinois last weekend and two yesterday, the Blugolds have improved to 7-11 and stopped a 10-game slide. Now, the team will face its first WIAC opponent of the season. River Falls has been strong as of late. The team, which owns a 9-7 record, has won five of its last six games. Highlighting this stretch was a 17-0 victory over Martin Luther College (Minn.). While some of this can be attributed to lackluster opponent performances, I still think the Falcons will be tough competition. My pick: (B) Win one.

Nick: I think the Blugolds have a very good team, despite what their 7-11 record might imply. One thing worth noting about the 3-7 road trip the Blugolds just completed is the fact that they played in five different cities in a week. A couple days of rest and the first home games of the season should do the Blugolds good. My pick: (A) Win two.

Third Quarter: How will men’s tennis do against Wartburg College (Iowa) and Wheaton College (Ill.)? (A) Win both (B) Win one (C) Lose both

Ashley: While the men may have suffered two defeats during their six-match trip over spring break, this is still a team to be reckoned with. The losses were the first in over a month. But Eau Claire is still 18-4 overall, and Wartburg and Wheaton are just 7-11 and 4-5, respectively. I see the Blugolds picking up right where they left off. My pick: (A) Win both.

Nick: I see no reason to pick against the Blugolds. They’re a very good team, and, as Ashley pointed out, the opponents each have a sub .500 record. My pick: (A) Win both.

Fourth Quarter: How many matches will women’s tennis win against Wartburg College (Iowa)? (A) Eight or nine (B) Six or seven (C) Four or five (D) Three or less

Ashley: The Blugolds just picked up a perfect five out of five matches in Florida last week and show no signs of slowing down. They have yet to lose in 2010 and are 15-3 overall. Looking at the team’s results, the women have generally had decisive wins, especially this spring. While Wartburg is a tough 15-6, the team has been a little shakier this spring, going 1-8, 1-8 and 5-4 in its last three matches. I think the Blugolds will snag the win, but not by a huge margin. My pick: (B) Six or seven.

Nick: It’s hard to say how the Blugolds will do. Yes, they won all of their spring break games, but Wartburg, as Ashley pointed out, is a very good team. Eau Claire does have the home court advantage, which will play a big role because the Blugolds will know how the balls react to the surface in McPhee. I think that will give the advantage to Eau Claire in a close match. The Blugolds will win, 5-4. My pick: (C) Four or five.

Overtime: How will the Brewers fare during Friday’s game against the St. Louis Cardinals? (A) Win (B) Lose

Ashley: The Brew Crew got off to a rough start, losing the opening day game 5-3 against the Rockies. They did, however, manage to pick up the next two games and are now 2-1. The Cardinals, on the other hand, showed some power opening day, winning over the Reds 11-6. The team also had more success last year, winning the Central division. I’d love to pick the Brewers, but with so little information available this early in the season, I’m going to have to go with the Cards. My pick: (B) Lose.

Nick: The Cardinals have a very strong top half of their rotation with Adam Wainwright and Chris Carpenter, but I’m not sold on the back half. Since Carpenter pitched Monday, he is scheduled to go on Saturday. That means the Cardinals will likely send their fourth starter to face Dave Bush and the Brewers. The Brewers have a dominant offense that added a tremendous amount of speed in the off-season. I think the Brewers will win a close one because their revamped pitching staff will limit the Cardinals more than the Cardinals back-end starters can limit the Brewers offense. My pick: (A) Win.